pandemic poetry

Covid 19 2020 – A Poetic Journal by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

covid 19 2020

Moonstone Press has just released Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s, Covid 19, 2020 – A Poetic Journal. 

The Chapbook is available here: https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/sahms-guarnieri-diane-covid-19-2020-a-poetic-journal/294?cs=true&cst=custom 

What Others Say:

As sobering as Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, when the Bubonic Plague devasted London, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s, Covid-19, 2020 is a grim recounting of the horrible year through which we have just lived.

Starting with the ironically named “March Madness” section, a term that usually refers to the annual NCAA basketball tournament but so succinctly captures the mass disorientation, like “a sci-fi movie, yet real,” as she notes on 3-23-2020, the journal proceeds through April, the cruelest month, mixing death and rebirth in its stew of life, into the horrific summer of 2020 –

185,000 dead in the United States by Labor Day – and into fall/winter with the mounting dead, the glimmer of hope that a vaccine may soon be available. The collection ends on New Year’s Eve, over 350,000 Americans dead under the chaotic leadership of the Trump administration, the most of any nation in the world.  Along the way, as if the pandemic were not bad enough, Sahms-Guarnieri addresses the social turmoil that tore the country apart, the racial injustice that spawned BLM.

Sahms-Guarnieri captures the fear and loneliness so eloquently in the April poem, “Nature & Mothers Weeping,” which begins:
.
Horrific scene played on TV—
a mother weeping & wailing
for daughter, dead. COVID-19.
.
Last seen alive via FaceTime:
Mom, I can’t breathe.
.
I, with thoughts of my only
living daughter, weep
for those whom I don’t know
.

The July poem, “Untouchables, for daughter, Mary,” drives the point home :
.
We who always embrace every time
we meet & whenever we leave each other,
came no nearer than 6 feet.
.
An unmeasurably cruel calculation
for me & daughter, whose hazel irises,
as life protectors, gently glided into
.
mine: touching, without touching,
.
As Defoe wrote over three centuries ago, “everyone looked on himself and his family as in the utmost danger…London might well be said to be all in tears.”

Charles Rammelkamp, author of Ugler Lee and Mortal Coil 

You can get the chapbook here: https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/sahms-guarnieri-diane-covid-19-2020-a-poetic-journal/294?cs=true&cst=custom

Call For Submissions – Pandemic Issue #7

corona

Coronavirus – A Year In.  Pandemic Issue #7

We are a year into the pandemic since our first issue was published. Issue #7 will be published at the end of this month. Tell your poetic story of coronavirus, your family’s story: your town’s story; your state’s story; your nation’s story; as the pandemic continues. Let us remember the fallen; the suffering; the doctors; nurses; first responders; front line workers; negatives; positives. Tell the story.

Submissions are due no later than April 25th.

Guidelines are simple: one to five poems in word doc. A bio of no longer than one hundred words. We anticipate a significant amount of submissions and therefore will not be able to respond to individual submissions. Send your submission to sahmsguarnieriandreutter@gmail.com

North of Oxford

Editors Poems up at Poetry and Covid

poetry and coivd

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Three poems by Diane Sahms  just published at Poetry and Covid : https://poetryandcovid.com/2021/04/02/three-poems-62/

2021 by g emil reutter just published at Poetry and Covid: https://poetryandcovid.com/2021/04/01/2021/

Most Read Poets 2020

232 1

This year has offered many challenges to all of us. There has been great change, great loss, a fight against an invisible assailant. As with all things in 2020 the pandemic has dominated. This year’s most read poets includes the six pandemic issues we published. The list begins with Wesley Scott McMasters followed by The Pandemic Issues and rounded out by Ezra Solway, Robbi Nester and Akshaya Pawaskar.

Gypsy Blood by Wesley Scott McMasters

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/03/14/gypsy-blood-by-wesley-scott-mcmasters/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #2

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-2/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #5

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-6/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/__trashed-2/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue # 3

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-3/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-4/

Philadelphia Pulp by Ezra Solway

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/philadelphia-pulp-by-ezra-solway/

Perspective by Robbi Nester

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/perspective-by-robbi-nester/

War of Elements by Akshaya Pawaskar

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/war-of-elements-by-akshaya-pawaskar/

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North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

“Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel”

“Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel” by Mary M. Michaels https://marymmichaels.weebly.com/

Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #6 from North of Oxford and Mary M. Michaels for graciously providing her art.  In order of appearance we present:  Henry Crawford, Megha Sood, Sheila Allen with Emily Jensen, Kerry Trautman, M. J. Arcangelini, Stephen Bochinski, Christine Riddle, Maria Keane, Marko Otten, Patricia Carragon, Jonel Abellanosa, Reizel Polak, Lois Perch Villemaire, Stephen Page, John Stickney, Ethel Gofen, Nan Ottenritter, Larry C. Tolbert, Kirsty A. Niven, Roderick Deacey, Gwil James Thomas and JeanMarie Olivieri
.
.
Henry Crawford
.
View From The Refrigerated Truck
.
The one below me died last Thursday.
They took him to the ICU the day before.
Put him on a ventilator.
.
Next to me a woman I remember
from the waiting room. The steel doors opened
to a blast of sunlight and cold vapor.
.
Stacked her in the first
vacant space.
.
My wife caught me coughing.
Drove me down in our yellow Honda Civic.
She knew this woman.
.
They’d gone to junior high together.
.
There’s room for another body
on my left. I saw a technician sneezing
as they were hooking up my drips.
.
It might be nice to see her again
but not here.
.
I’d tell her watch out. It’s not the dying
but the dying alone. Not the pain but the
knowing. Not the void but the temperature
that gets you.
.
Henry Crawford is the author of two collections of poetry, American Software (CW Books, 2017) and the Binary Planet (Word Works, 2020). His online poems are available at Henry Crawford Poetry, Online. He is currently the host of the online series, Poets vs The Pandemic.
.
Megha Sood
.
Insane “New” Normal
.
Like a blind cave
brittle rib cage hosting the infection
an unwanted guest:
the virus opens its mouth
its glistening black teeth
in the dead of the night
.
devours everything
precious and beautiful
cleaves the life out of the soul
leaves you gasping;
with bated breath and a jarred mind
.
you are left alone
in a vacant mind
lying on the death bed
reminiscing the day love embraced you
around a summer bonfire
.
now loneliness bounces off
sepia-tinged walls
death draped in pristine
white sheets sitting
at the foot of the bed
.
scoops its share masticating life
leaving you rotten like an empty room
with chipped off walls
forgotten and waiting for its due
.
vacant mind begets explanation
in the hollowness of the night
when the wheezing and choking
cleaves your soul
leaves you asunder
.
It rattles your mind
you struggle with the existential truth
as this insane “new normal” renders
dying alone a new meaning.
.
A Condolence Call
.
Grief sits like a day old soup in my kitchen unless the anger stirs it
rattles and boils it. Grief rises to the surface and chokes me
.
I hear the loss of a mother. My friend’s mother, over the phone
It’s a condolence call yet I can’t seem to join in his grief
.
Sudden loss disjoints your body, the pieces don’t seem to fit anymore
Body and language are extricable. Our tongue moves in the way
.
our body can’t decipher in grief. I can’t seem to form a legible sentence
our conversation keeps coming back to the grocery, the loneliness of
.
being stuck in a condo looking over the lush green deserted parks.
I don’t want to bring back the conversation of the dead and dying.
.
The whole thread of conversation is about feeding the ones we love.
Loss is pouring through the thin sluices of this city. Every damn day.
.
Which starts again the same way it ended yesterday Or was it tomorrow?
With sidewalks pitted with the bones of the dead.
.
I can’t seem to fathom the desperation and anger in his voice of not being
able to visit her mother during her last times, the pain and the grief carry over
.
like a failing enjambment from one meaningless conversation
to another till we ran out of the small talk. The silences between
.
the pauses take the shape of the unsaid condolence, as I slowly hang up the phone.
There is no defined language for grief. Lesson learned.
.
This City Weeps. This City Wails
.
The infection moving crisscross
jumping street and avenues
the Broadway Boogie Woogie
straight out of a Mondrian
A labyrinth of bones buried
under the sidewalks
.
Once lined with laughter
Now pitted with fear
Parks morphing into graves
Dead outgrows the living
Sky shredded with elegy
.
People drowning their grief
Looking out from the balcony
The incessant clapping
Can’t douse the cacophony of death
Of screaming hearts and sobbing souls.
.
Anger and grief filling the sewers
the putrid smell carried by air
Heavy with grief and sorrow
Nothing heavier than the pain of dying alone
.
As the infection moves through the
City wailing like a widow
The contagion like grief
Anointing every soul it touches
.
Earmarking it for death
The night whimpers
under its own breath.
.
This city wails. This city weeps.
.
Conjecture
.
What roses are blooming outside the four walls of my room with no name?
The seasons pass without waving goodbye. There are only enough things I choose
to ignore this year
.
Hunkered inside my room, I am counting hollow shadows crossing the streets
Tender sapling breaking open through the moist crumbled earth
.
Douse with the monsoon rains. Empty seasons passing outside this walls
like the phantom shadows beside a moving train, a fallacy of time passing.
.
Days rolled into nights like incessant numbers on my calendar.
A hamster on a wheel life with memories etched on our dead and the dying
.
Counting the loss by every passing day I wonder, what lilies are blooming in the square today?
Loneliness begets acceptance, bodies shriveled like raisins craving for the warm acceptance.
.
What buds have birthed in the small garden, I wonder.
Some losses are too heavy to count, some debts are too big to pay.
.
All my passing seasons are now a conjecture of my empty mind
Trapped inside the sepia tinge walls of my high rise, burgeoned by the grief
.
Like a father blackening his elbows on the window sill
counting his breaths like long scratches on a prison’s wall.
.
Megha Sood is an Assistant Poetry Editor at Mookychick.Over 450+ works featured in literary journals and numerous works in print anthologies by the US, UK, Australian, and Canadian Press. Blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/
.
Sheila Allen with Emily Jensen
.
Silent Killer
    -For Mark Romutis
.
Warnings were sent and then ignored
Washington heard not a single word
And blindly life continued on
While a silent killer was coming, going strong
.
He said,
We‘re all united together
We‘re all working so hard together
It will be a great victory soon
.
But the truth sings a different tune
There was no caution from our leader here
Except to pose and place blame here and there
But the enemy was in the air
And was on us, in us, hiding everywhere
.
He said,
We‘re all united together
We‘re all working so hard together
It will be a great victory soon
.
And so his voters listened well
And took no heed, even rebelled
And brothers, husbands, and sisters fell
While the virus raged on, raging hell
.
He said,
We‘re all united together
We‘re all working so hard together
It will be a great victory soon
.
We need a leader to help us heal
A ruler who listens, and deeply feels
Who makes science and facts the ideal
To bring our country back to life again
.
And THE PEOPLE now say
We‘re all united together
We are all working hard together
It will be a great victory soon
It will be a great victory soon
.
These are lyrics written after my brother died on April 12. – Sheila Allen
.
Kerry Trautman
.
Introvert Quarantined
.
It should be heaven here at home with people I
love and made, bright things I
.
chose to line my walls and shelving. Instead
I long for Manhattan, for the N train to 42nd
.
rattling grime and garbagey curbsides.
My children seem to multiply,
.
husband a coworker making smalltalk while the
breakroom microwave hums.
.
I miss too-loud bar cover bands, guessing stories
of strangers at parties where I only
.
know two people and just want to lure the cat
from under the bed or join it. Windows glass
.
is cold to touch, trees beyond still brittle grey,
my kitchen has only canned beans, tuna and stale
.
crackers, apples we start to reach for then
change our minds. I want a restaurant menu
.
with ingredients I need to Google, a wine list
like Morse code I close and ask
.
for water, waiter judging my shoes other
patrons chatting relaxed with their
.
bulbous wines. Here between my walls everyone
knows me too well, has heard me fart as I hop up
.
the stairs, watched me sew and re-sew
holes in the knees of my pajamas. I know
.
whose footsteps are coming, whose sneeze that was
which cupboard door just
.
opened and didn’t close. Slip me into the queue
for TSA, someone’s Samsonite knocking into
.
my heels, someone’s hummus assailing my
sinuses. Press me between two strangers in airline
.
seats with an inch-wide hard armrest
pretending to separate my belly from theirs. Thrust
.
my body out at the cold
air of the world.
.
Quarantined Together
.
You and I argue the politics on TV—
the paper-shuffling sound bites
like a slipcover slid over
a holey plaid sofa,
and I wish the remote control could
click me views into
other living rooms.
.
Do wives there finish their sentences
without repeated shouts like
linguistic backs of hands?
Do husbands there listen, nod
I see your point?
.
I want to hold
the volume-down button
and TV graph lines dip
downward in a breath of relief
like bicycle coasting
with legs yawned wide
away from pedals.
.
I avoid you, avoid the suit
behind the crested podium
like the oak tree at the park
with a two-foot hornet’s nest.
.
There must be characters somewhere
who are better scripted,
Someone is getting this right.
.
I need clairvoyance like a
glow-in-the-dark telephone
I can pick up to hear
my neighbors cleaning their garage
with harmonious chatter,
or my two poet-couple friends
versing on twin manual typewriters
beside billowing curtains,
or the young couple marrying
in the stone church downtown
with only the priest and their parents
six-feet apart in the pews.
.
I need a TV channel to tell me
who will live to feel
the heat of summer, and who
will have to trust their memory
of waves pulling wet sand
around their toes
in a fever dream while blinking
their last blinks.
.
If I turn the TV off
I am an ostrich.
On mute I could listen
instead to Debussy or Dylan
but maps would still glow there—
reddening circles radiating
from major cities
sprawling by the hour.
.
There must be something to press
to my ear.
I’m willing to hear
all I’ve done wrong
and what could have
switched it right,
willing to beg forgiveness and
burn bridges before
I flush red and burst
on a map of Ohio
but first I need to shout
into something
built to receive my voice.
.
Kerry Trautman’s books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015,) Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017,) and To be Nonchalantly Alive (Kelsay Books 2020.) She is a poetry editor for Red Fez. Tired of tiny Zoom faces, she longs for in-person poetry.
.
M. J. Arcangelini
.
Pandemic Ghazal
.
pacing the yard just past dawn. Birds chattering,
free to fly wherever they wish.
.
Television talking heads spewing numbers,
pointing to charts, somehow translates into lives.
.
Mask as fashion statement. Sequined mask. Flag mask.
Mask as political position. Frightened old masked man.
.
What are your symptoms this morning? What?
You don’t have any? Look again. Look again.
.
Talking to shadows. The empty guest chair.
The solitary bed. Swapping photos with Onan.
.
Even the recluse gets lonely when he’s
denied what he had chosen to forego.
.
M.J. Arcangelini has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in a lot of little magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies.  He has five collections, the most recent of which is “A Quiet Ghost,” Luchador Press 2020. Arcangelini has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
.
Stephen Bochinski
.
Us
.
The thing is it is dark
bringing a flashlight won’t help
it is too artificial for places like this
besides you must perceive
with senses other than sight
when darkness descends
eclipsing even the rays of the sun
and you find yourself alone
the only source of illumination
your dream seen with liminal eyes
and the subconscious self a sensory organ
with which it is possible to perceive
the vast beauty of our collective soul.
.
Rooted
.
It is impossible to flee
to some other country
the borders are all closed
as are the locked doors
of our individual abodes.
There is no escape
in climbing out the window
out the screens of televisions
or the glow of our devices
no more hiding in the attic
with our memories and our memes
or the darkness of our basement
to sit out the great depression
of our anxieties and despair.
It is the return to somewhere ancient
over the threshold of a primal door
to weep the tears for all those years
that separation wrought
to tend to the tender places
we all were cut to our psyche’s bone
where the ancient healing rituals
forgotten by our elevated selves
are remembered in our beloved earth
where the tree of our nature is rooted
where together we withstand the storm.
.
Stephen Bochinski has been writing since taking an evening creative writing course at a local community college in the mid-nineties while working construction during the day. He has since retired from construction and continues to write while living in Oceanside Ca. and walking on the beach.
.
Christine Riddle
.
Sheltering in Place: Week 5
.
In the pre-dawn stillness I imagine I can hear the Earth’s heartbeat
pulsing in harmony with the cosmos, reliably in orbit,
unfazed by this pandemonium. Meanwhile, I’ve been flung off course,
diverted onto a foreign trajectory, destination uncertain.
I mask, I distance, but mostly I shelter in place
and wonder what’s to become of us.
.
Other crises arrive in a spectacle: tsunamis, wildfires, Twin Towers.
But this time there was no seismic shift, no arsonist, no terrorists.
This one crept in quietly and scattered like mercury uncontained.
Like fog at sea it knows no bounds, its reach is limitless.
Its victims transformed into weapons.
.
Whether human creation or Nature’s spawn it lives among us now.
And I must accept that the unthinkable is reality,
that we were so smugly unprepared,
that we are all vulnerable.
.
In the pre-dawn stillness, birds still sing.
.
Christine Riddle’s poetry has appeared in Moments of the Soul, Ink to Paper, Prize Poems 2020, and will soon be published in Tennessee Voices an Anthology. An essay appears in Far Villages.
.
Maria Keane
.
Containment
.
Blackened flowers
tangle in weeds.
Crimes become catacombs of amnesia.
.
Time lapses, behavior struggles for the
flavor of freedom, the right to claim
air to breathe, enduring the
struggle to stay alive.
.
Scarred wings of memory
struggle for liberty, all movement
shocked by a third rail of dying.
.
Keane’s published poetry, has been the recipient of several literary grant residency awards by the Delaware Division of Arts.  Her poetry has received national honors by the National League of American Pen Women. A book of poetry, Being There (includes illustrations by the author) was published in October, 2018.  It was awarded a First in the Creative verse/ book award by the Delaware Press Women Her visual art was awarded a Professional Fellowship in Works on Paper in 1997 by the DDOA and the NEA.
.
Marko Otten
.
rainforest lockdown
.
we have known rainforests
visiting them partly for our pleasure
we penetrated them deeply keen on their mysteries
.
every time I thought I’d come out a better person
returning home wiser like mister natural
.
a week after reinstated lockdown
we tried to venture into the inner city
to skulk around at night
the only people under blue towers and
most silent raining
.
streets glistening under lampposts and neon lights
suddenly plain to see: a wilderness exposed midtown
wilder than what we’d seen anywhere ever before
retreat
confused guessing
wait a minute: wasn’t that a cab few blocks down?
yes we did see one
maybe not
something was moving
or driving around
or did you
for a moment I just…
.
retreat
no better person to return home
unexplored wild calling
.
Marko Otten is a Dutch poet who reads and writes poetry in English. The expressive powers of the language got him hooked. Marko Otten is a published historian and a supervisor in education. He graduated at Groningen University (1982 with honors) and took classes at New York University and at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. He is married to Anne. Their children Judith and Martijn married and settled in Zutphen and Barcelona respectively.
.
Patricia Carragon
.
send me an angel
(inspired by Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions)
.
wisdom comes with maturity   but it’s hard to be wise
when your nation caters to avarice and ignorance
.
you never saw the storm seize the new year
& like the government   life shuts down for struggle to thrive
.
anxiety doesn’t believe in social distancing
sends cryptic messages between you and your mask
.
you did your best   prayed for that miracle
that fell prey to lies & deceit
.
open your eyes   your angel left for another zoom call
.
stay locked in your quarantine
watch gray feathers   etched in red   blow off the fire escape
.
the trapper & the furrier
            (inspired by regina spektor)
.
2020   a strange   strange year
like a time bomb   waiting   for breaking news to strike
.
beasts in filthy cages
pellets and food   pets from puppy mills
.
children sleep in soiled cages
family separation   asylum still out of reach
.
dystopian predictions   dystopian facts
.
big business declares war on its workers
unions   wages   healthcare   live at triage
.
newspeak from the white house
twists failure into praise   fiction into history
.
our self-proclaimed leader plays mobster roulette
the press   elections   & laws face execution
he gives carte blanche to an alien dressed as the flu
.
& the sick keep getting sicker
with too many fevers   chills   coughs    & losses of smell & taste
.
death toll rising   ghost towns replace cities
bodies overflow morgues   the homeless live underground
.
tests & cures not fast enough
business as usual for corporate generals
.
2020   a strange   strange year
people shut indoors   waiting   not knowing what to believe
their time bombs   not knowing when to explode
.
Patricia Carragon latest books from Poets Wear Prada are Meowku and The Cupcake Chronicles, and Innocence from Finishing Line Press. Ms. Carragon hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology and is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
.
Jonel Abellanosa
.
Dirge in the Time of the Pandemic
.
The dark is mastering me, peace of mind
a measure it plays as if it desires personhood.
I give the twelfth hour a simple name –
.
“Midnight.”
.
Curtains hiding glass panes hint blue,
place in my mind where time doesn’t pass,
no need for anything to be done, no need for
.
accomplishments.
.
Light flashes outside, and I know the sky
over my heart speaks no thunder.
When the moon leaves, I resume my part
.
in the world.
.
Living has become so hard, loved ones
families lose like notes a mournful song
leaves to silence. It doesn’t have to be
.
this way
.
but in the world that holds echoes
“Greed” is more powerful than the powerto end the music that keeps repeating.
.
Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. He is a nature lover, an environmental advocate, and loves all animals particularly dogs. His poetry and fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary journals and anthologies, including Windhover, The Lyric, Star*Line, Fox Chase Review, Poetry Kanto, Marsh Hawk Review, That Literary Review, Bosphorous Review of Books and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Meditations” (Alien Buddha Press), “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press). He loves to self-study the sciences.
.
Reizel Polak
.
Delivery during Quarantine 
.
This unexpected sight the sad
park benches unfriendly to elderly
to pause take pleasure in the shrubbery
the whistling birds yellow tape crossed over
armrest to armrest defends against
a tranquil freedom to sit in the company
of others to talk tell a joke and yet
every one has begun to know
to stay apart cover-up one’s mouth
one’s nose still the eyes can speak
I see another pedestrian walking this way
your face I think looks gloomy your glance
far away I nod I smile with my eyes
in this square I pass through and out of
an eerie-quiet air the hedgerow birds
sing out of sight double whistles
I wish I knew to name these voices
such comfort I admit to love deeply
the sound of the birds calling to each other
the sound of creation every new day
and here what comes along ahead tugging
on a leash a little dog turning back
to glance at me where I follow its owner
at a distance along this path descending
to the grounds of willow trees what odd
connection this dog wagging its tail
seems to awaken between my human element
& animal life another pedestrian this way
you nod I nod as we slip past
each other to my errand on nearly-
abandoned streets residents as separate
distinct unique on this extraordinary ride
on Earth bound-up in the presence
of the Unknowable to see best we can
entering the written pages of history to come
.
I am a member of The Academy of American Poets. My poems have been published in Midstream, Ibbetson Street Press, Greville Press Pamphlets U.K, others, and one pending publication in Annals of Internal Medicine.
.
Lois Perch Villemaire
.
Peanut Butter
.
I have a mild sore throat and feel lightheaded.
Tightness in my chest and congestion.
Back of my hand to forehead.
Feverish?
Oh please.
I can’t have the virus.
I could develop respiratory issues,
Have to be hospitalized,
And need to go on a ventilator.
They say only 20% survive
being on a ventilator.
They say a symptom of the virus is
losing sense of smell.
I march to the kitchen pantry,
Pull out a jar of peanut butter,
Unscrew the top,
inhale deeply through my nose.
Ah, yes, I definitely smell peanut butter.
Thank goodness.
.
Lois Perch Villemaire lives in Annapolis, MD. She is inspired by life experiences and enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction, and memoir. Her work has appeared in Potato Soup Journal, The Drabble, FewerThan500, Pen-in-Hand, MWA Journal, and Global Poemic. She blogs for annapolisdiscovered.com and annapoliswellnesshouse.org
.
Stephen Page
.
Grocery Shopping
.
I am sitting in our dull-gray
Pathetically petite rental car
With the cracked windshield and tiny
Unhubcapped tires,
(Last Friday Teresa smashed our sleek
White SUV that drives like a yacht
Gliding over calm waters)
Alone, my mask around my neck,
Waiting for my her
To finish grocery shopping
(Only one family member
Is allowed entrance at any time).
.
When will I ever learn?
I have been here before,
I have been here before,
I have been here before,
Thousands of times
(Though mostly before the mask),
Hungry, thirsty, hours
                                    Passing by,
Worrying if maybe she had fallen,
And medics are attending to her,
(I don’t have my phone, and she left hers
For me to hold onto)
But knowing that most likely
She was wandering inside the clothing stores
Inside the shopping mall
That just reopened,
Only to know, that as I don my mask and enter
A hunting/fishing gear store that opens
From the parking lot, that she will
Reappear outside as soon as I enter,
Looking for me,
Searching the parking lot
For me and our ugly rental car.
.
I purchase a camouflage backpack,
A 9 mm pistol, a hunting knife,
and a hand-size stun device.
I stuff the three defense/attack components into
The outside pocket of the pack,
And as I exit the store,
There she is, wandering the lot,
Her arms stretched, her shoulders hunched, holding
Bags filled with things
Only she thinks we need,
Having no idea that she is late
For an appointment with our lawyer
Concerning the accident, or that I
Had been waiting for hours.
.
I am past starvation and dehydration,
But I smile behind my mask
As I walk toward her.
I gently lift the packages from her surgical gloved
Hands.
.
Stephen Page is part Native American. He was born in Detroit. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College and is a rancher in Argentina . He wears a mask whenever he ventures outside and socially distances.  He loves his wife, spontaneous road trips, long walks through woodlands, and making noise with his electric bass.
.
John Stickney
.
 Somewhere Among  Us a Virus is Taking Notes
        (after C. Simic and Z. Herbert)
.
This virus
is the perfect
student
.
Unlike you
it is careful
of boundaries
.
Exact marks
entered
in the margins
.
It sees you
eyes
calm and clear
.
And
at the end
of term?
.
A report card
filled with the
“Highest” marks
.
(inspired by the push to open US Schools)
.
My Bookshelf Background
.
Broadcasting here
From within
A definite space
Of relatively
Small intent –
.
Oh, ain’t we
Just all
So well read
.
(inspired by the backgrounds of experts featured on TV through the magic of Zoom)
.
Look To The Sky
.
Because the mice escaped the lab
with the ability to control similar sized minds,
they have roped themselves to the backs of ravens
and plan an aerial assault
on your cupboard filled with
Cheetos,
Cheese Curls,
Cheez-Its,
Cheese Nips,
Cheddar Bunnies,
Cheez Wiz
and those delicious,
cheesy
Goldfish.
 .
(inspired by the Pandemic Fifteen caused by snacking)
.
John Stickney is a poet/writer originally from Cleveland, OH, currently living in the coastal area of Wilmington, NC.)
.
Ethel Gofen
.
If the symptoms of Covid-19 you feel
Here’s a doctor’s plan to help you, I’ll reveal:
Inhale, hold your breath five seconds, then exhale.
Do this five times in a row and do not fail.
On the sixth breath end it with a cough galore.
Then repeat this whole breathing routine once more.
Next lie on your stomach, pillow at your head.
Don’t lie on your back but on your front instead.
Spend ten minutes taking breaths slightly deeper
Than normal.  (Later you can be a sleeper).
This allows your smallest airways to get air.
J. K. Rowling claims this method gave her care
When she had the symptoms though never a test
For Coronavirus this plan is the best.
.
Ethel Gofen is a retired freelance writer, author of two books as part of a series, Cultures of the World, for which I wrote the volumes on France and Argentina in 1990 and 1992. Ethel and her  husband and both had Covid-19 in May although I had no symptoms.
.
Nan Ottenritter
.
street garden
.
cathedral-like canopy above
black asphalt below
kids in the street
chalked glorious flowers
blooming where they are planted
.
as a child
.
in the garden,
nowhere to go,
on my own for
what-to-do,
i remember possibility.
.
quarantined today
in the garden,
nowhere to go,
some to-dos,
i sing the purple iris,
.
the bird rejecting thistle,
downing suet.
a sense of possibility
flirts, hovers.
i await its landing.
.
The beforetime
.
is over, she said.
I knew what
she meant, having
stopped imagining
a going- back,
a return to normal.
.
In the beforetime,
stock portfolios and
stocked kitchen shelves
shielded me.
The presence of others
was mostly a comfort,
working invisible magic
in my heart.
.
In this middletime,
I hunker down,
grow a garden,
grow myself,
with only a wire to the world,
a good book.
I am finally
in and of place.
.
Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician living in Richmond, VA. Her works have appeared in the Artemis Journals: Women hold up half the sky, TheNewVerseNews, Poets Reading the News, Life in 10 Minutes, the 2019 Poetry Society of Virginia Anthology, and As You Were: The Military Review.
.
Larry C. Tolbert
.
To Accept Once and For All
.
I open with praise for
Our dark-skinned
Brothers and sisters
Your dogged
Determination
To be free,
Watching family
And friends
Strange fruit indeed
One by one cut down
From trees,
.
Snarling dogs
Water cannons
Never good news in
Police rifle reports
.
Rest in peace
Silenced freedom’s friends
You, not Jesus, died for our
Original sins
.
I praise the
One in six people
Our founding fathers
Labeled dark-skinned
Alienable exceptions
Within a
White constitution
At our country’s
Inception
.
I praise your
Black constitution
For enduring the
Resulting
Unimaginable
Abuse
.
Your free labor fueled
An economy to
Unholy heights
Drove a nation’s soul
Along sharp saber’s edge,
Unfathomable
Pools of blood,
Unmeasured
Depths of shame
.
Your road to hell paved
With such good intentions
Of ill-bestowed certain
Self-evident truths
—All men created equal
With unalienable rights,
Among those
Life,
Liberty, the
Pursuit of happiness—
.
I close with this prayer,
May we all awake
Sooner and better from
This 2020 nightmare of
Worldwide disease,
Economic collapse,
Inept, venal leaders and
Social unrest to
Unite and achieve at
Long last call
Long-sought
Justice on race in
A world
That works
For all
.
To accept once and for all
What has always been true
That—
Unalienable rights
Denied
Become wrongs
To accept once and for all
What has always been true
That—
We are “E Pluribus Unum”
“One from many”
 Black, brown, yellow
 Red, white, and blue
To accept once and for all
What has always been true
That—
We are all one race
The Human Race
Me     And     You
.
Larry C. Tolbert is a writer and poet with master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and San Francisco State University. Raised by grandparents on a Southern Illinois farm, he has lived in Northern California his entire adult life. His work has been published in Birdland Journal and ESCOM Journal (College of Marin).
.
Kirsty A. Niven
.
Setting
.
Pink clouds brush the slates of tenements,
a sugary blush, candy floss breath –
the world is a bleary-eyed painting,
the street a Dundonian Hopper.
.
The only eye that sees me here,
a glass square with lace eyelashes.
Tear stain speckles mark the glass,
machine gun sputters in a speakeasy.
.
Dust fills my lungs like an hourglass.
My plaster skin dries in the heavy air,
the steady descent to forgotten stone.
The centre remains a hollow.
.
A cavern with an echoing scream –
dropping downwards into an infinite abyss
judged by stabbing stalactites
for another isolation infused ramble.
.
Finality falls over the chimneys.
.
Kirsty A. Niven lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Landfall, Nocturne and Of Burgers and Barrooms. She has also featured in several journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, Dundee Writes and Causeway/Cabhsair. Kirsty’s work can also be found online on sites such as 45 Magazine, Ponder Savant and Nine Muses Poetry.
.
Roderick Deacey
.
A Virus Among Us     
.
These days, we live in hope – we can’t be sure –
the damage is extensive, I’m afraid!
Things won’t return to how they were before
.
So, must we wear these masks for evermore
like characters in some bizarre charade?
We hope not, but we really can’t be sure.
.
We dine well-spaced outside the café door
and pray no-one is sick where the meal’s made.
Is their home-made bread as good as before?
.
Shall we drink till we can think no more?
Turn back the clock and let our worst fears fade?
Hopes can come true, can’t they? We’re not so sure.
.
Each day we count our dead and keep the score;
this cruel curse is like a deadly blade!
Things can’t go back to how they were before.
.
The mighty plague has dragged us to the floor!
So shall we rise up once more, undismayed?
That’s our hope, but we know one thing for sure –
we won’t go back to who we were before.
.
Roderick Deacey is a performing poet based in Frederick, MD, appearing regularly in the DC area with his bass-player and drummer. His book of beat poems, “neo-beatery ballads” was published in 2019. Deacey won the Frederick Arts Council Carl R. Butler Award for Literature in 2019.
.
Gwil James Thomas
.
Now That The World Has Changed.
.
If there’s one thing that the world
isn’t short of at the moment
it’s Coronavirus poems –
but now that the world has changed,
that’s not hardly fucking surprising either.
.
I remember one wild and lost year
constantly finding fresh trouble,
whilst clinging to my past –
until one day I finally
opened my eyes to the world
around me and decided that
it was time to move on,
but as I did I also found the world
had moved faster than I’d remembered
and I’d wanted it to somehow
slow down for a little while
so that I could catch back up with it –
then recently it did and now
everyone’s wearing hazmat suits,
turning on one another
and slowly going bat shit crazy.
.
Meanwhile, I sit here counting pennies,
whilst waiting to pen the next poem –
telling myself that this shit storm
simply is what it is until somehow,
someday it’ll be no more.
.
Some Things.
.
Back home again,
I saw an old
hometown hero
pull up to the lights –
he’d been another
regular in the
local pub
and to be blunt
I was surprised that
he was still alive –
but he’d lived more
lives than most
had anyway
and he leaned out
of the window,
complaining to me
about the crazy tenant
in the bedsit below his,
before then telling me
that he was off
to buy some booze
and I realised he’d
told me the exact
same things
before I’d left town
two years ago
and I watched as
he pulled off
with Free Bird
playing through
the same broken
car stereo –
glad that some things
since this virus arrived,
had stayed the same.
.
Gwil James Thomas is a novelist, poet and inept musician. Originally from Bristol, England he’s also lived in Brighton, London and Spain. He’s a Best of The Net and Pushcart nominee whose written work can be found in numerous publications. His most recent chapbook’s here: www.analogsubmission.com/chapbooks/gwiljamesthomas-cocoontransitions
.
JeanMarie Olivieri
.
Grocery Shopping
.
Trapped
in the car
waiting for the parking lot
to empty just a bit
.
My local grocery store
is an older, smaller model
than her suburban sister-stores
yet it seems now to hold
the entire neighborhood  ̶
a potentially lethal block party.
.
I will not be trapped
by fear.
I mask up and enter.
.
Looking Forward
.
Crowd surfing at Burning Man
New Year’s Eve in Time Square
Championship playoffs
.
Too much time alone
I’m dreaming of places
I never wanted to be
.
Standing in this desert
hope like water in my canteen
I am squinting into the future
looking at life beyond six feet
All I see is you
.
Molt
.
Weeks turn to months.
I have been confined too long.
Seeking solace in the night
I molt my skin
don a discarded shell
and dig a home into wet sand
careful to escape the boiling pot.
Sometimes my skin thickens
my feet harden into hooves
and I race the veld with my herd.
On clear nights with a full moon
I spread my wings and soar
a sleek predator
bringing fast death to small animals
before roosting in my nest
to awaken with feathers by my bed.
.
JeanMarie Olivieri is a mostly retired business writer who mostly writes poetry. She has been published in online journals and several anthologies. She is a co-organizer for the Living Poetry Meetup group, and an editor for the Heron Clan Poetry Anthology series. Follow her at https://jeanmarieolivieri.wordpress.com/
.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Summer Pandemic Issues

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #5

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-6/

 

Spring Pandemic Issues 

North of Oxford presents The Pandemic Issues.

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/__trashed-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #2

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #3

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-3/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-4/

Diane and George April 2020

.
Stay Calm – Stay Safe – Stay Home and When Out and About Wear a Mask
Diane Sahms and g emil reutter

 

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #5

pandemic mary

The Great Falls of the Lehigh River and Stoddart Mills Ruins By Mary M. Michaels  https://marymmichaels.weebly.com/

.
Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #5 from North of Oxford and Mary M. Michaels for graciously providing her art .  In order of appearance we present: Howie Good, Robbie Nester, J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford, Ray Greenblatt, Dee Allen. , Dan Brady, Mike Maggio, Michael D. Amitin, Mark J. Mitchell, Rikki Santer, Benjamin Siegan, Anne Becker, Akshaya Pawaskar, Amy Barone, Judy DeCroce and Antoni Ooto, Ben Nardolilli, Jane ‘SpokenWord’ Grenier, Barbara Crooker, Tim Suermondt, Michele Riedel and Diane Wilbon Parks
.
Howie Good
.
Oh, Mercy
.
I board the subway at 72nd Street carrying a metal briefcase like the one that contains secret nuclear launch codes. A busker playing guitar at the far end of the car is trying to make up in enthusiasm what he lacks in formal training. He apparently adheres to Lou Reed’s dictum: anything with more than three chords is jazz. The passengers ignore his musical pleas for attention. They nap. They text. They shed virus. When the train emerges for a moment above ground, the sky looks as if it’s been digitally erased. There are colors in nature that birds can see, but humans can’t.
.
Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
.
2 Poems by Robbie Nester
.
Instruction
.
When fear takes you by the throat and
shakes you, breathe slowly. Remember
the feeling of hanging, a leaf on the end
of a branch, in headstand at the yoga studio.
Imagine the weight of an heirloom tomato
the precise shape of a geranium in your palm.
Fear cannot abide such sensations. Shove it
to the back of your closet with your oldest shoes.
Throw open the shades and listen to the rain
finding its way into the soft earth, waking
seeds that have slept in the ground
for months, so they open their mouths
and drink, tasting the air at last.
.
The 52 Hertz Whale
.
was the world’s loneliest because no other
whales would swim with him. His song
sounded awkward, maybe too shrill,
out of kilter. He was just plain odd.
Originality doesn’t count for much
among cetaceans. But we humans
are less discriminating, at least about
whale songs. We are listening,
sitting at our windows, staring out
at the empty streets, sure that we
are the whale, or that he is us.
.
Robbi Nester is the author of 4 books of poetry, including a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and three collections, the most recent being Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019).  She is also the editor of three anthologies. Her poems, reviews, articles, and essays have appeared widely in journals and anthologies.
.
 
J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford

 

My Lilac
.
There can be no balance,
But amid all the desolation and pain
Lilacs still lift and elate me beyond measure.
Her sweet fragrance wafts across my lawn
As though divinely assigned for such a time.
It is she who still calms, settles, stills my soul,
Slays today’s reality if only for a moment
Taking me back in reverie to childhood
Backyard games and daydreams
Where possibilities danced
Among calming lavender blossoms
Unfettered and unhindered by masks.
.
.
J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County, Maryland, U.S.A.  She has authored 3 collections of poems, “Lord I’m Dancin’ As Fast As I Can,” “This Garden Called Life” and “From Pain to Empowerment, The Fabric of My Being.”  For the past 15 years she has produced and hosted the nationally-recognized cable television show, Sojourn with Words, which has received two Telly Awards for “Excellence in Cultural Programming.”
 .
2 Poems by Ray Greenblatt
.
Invisible War
.
We do not wear gas masks
but Halloween masks
bizarrely decorated,
nor carry rifles
instead washing hands
anxiously raw,
and stand at a distance
like slightly neurotic
very polite children,
while people fall dead
all around us;
.
at least when the V-2’s
stopped ticking we knew
we were in trouble
and could run for it,
but this invisible
silent  monster can clasp us
like any innocent clown
at any  time on any corner
or tucked in our beds
saying last prayers.
.
Going On
.
oh yes
we’ve all been away
from each other
been away
on inner trips
and oh yes
we have all changed
because now we see each other
differently
we see each other
as we never have before
we have all aged
for questions of life and death
have been whirling all around us
so close around us
some will never return
and we wonder why
we wonder why we have survived
we wonder how we have survived
exhausted
fearful
touching places to see
if we are really here
and all we can do
is blindly
hopefully
go on . . .
.
“Ray & Sue Greenblatt were vacationing with family in Delray Beach, Florida in February. All seemed very normal, but when they returned, everything hit the fan! They will always be very thankful that they got home in time!”
.
3 Poems by Dee Allen.
.
Barren 
.
Barren
.
Streets—Oakland’s 74 miles closed
To cars—Mayor Schaaf prioritises
Two-wheeled exercise and safety
For gentrifiers.
.
Barren
.
Subway stations—Social
Distancing maintained
To the extreme. Underground
Solid concrete ghost town.
.
Barren
.
Hotel rooms—They’d make better
Shelter in place for the homeless than being
Warehoused in close quarters on mats. Existing method:
Good way to get infected.
.
Barren
.
Shelves—Inside the supermarket—
The spirit of hoarding
Cleared them of supplies.
Long line of humanity outside are in for a nasty surprise.
.
Barren
.
Heart—There’s
Nothing left dwelling in the husk for some.
Nothing left but hostility—Blame for sickness
Lands on descendants of Asia.
.
Barren
.
Describes this reality, re-configured
By rapid infection—Humanity homebound—
There’s no reverting back
To normal after this.
.
I survived
Ten presidents, the residual terror of four
Foreign wars, power outages, outbursts of nature,
A petrol shortage, evictions and homelessness.
.
I will survive this, even as this contaminated air
World quickly goes
.
Barren.
.
Masques Up 
.
There was a time
When wearing a masque
In public was equated w/ anti-system
Protests in the streets, attending the
Most extravagant, fun balloon
& paper streamer-strewn
Costume ball @ best
& crime @ worst—
.
It’s the Law now
To throw the masques up.
Simple, repurposed
Cloth covering our faces, concealing all
But our eyes. Looking fresh
.
From a steam train
Robbery Old West style
Or a Black Bloc
Putting some smash on the blue block
That redlines & forecloses
& holds money simultaneously
Chase Bank©—
.
To throw the masques up
Is an exercise of
Good judgement now. Invasion of our persons
Held back w/ a new school
Protection spell. Just add cloth
Firmly over nose & mouth.
Continued being assured against
.
Robbery of our lives
By a thief so intrusive,
Another murderer unseen,
But far more elusive.
.
Out Front
For Jennifer A. Minotti
.
I am grateful for…
.
The arched roof above my head
The twin rafters with
The twin lights, holding it in place
The four walls surrounding me
The two windows with
The two Venetian blinds, down & shut at all times
The red brick floor below my feet
The wooden shelves full of books & movies
The VHS by themselves & DVDs in clear totes
The Keetsa© mattress I sleep on
The melatonin that helps me sleep
The vegan food in my fridge, a meat-free zone
The fruit & vegetable juices I savour
The filtered water I drink more than tap shit
The hardcover journal notebooks and
The rollerpoint pens I use to express myself
The shower I use, even though I’m a bathtub man
The Hewlett Packard laptop computer aiding creation of
The once and future poetry volumes
The Samsung© TV & VCR/DVD player combo
The little house in East Oakland I call home
The vast collection of political slogan t-shirts
SOMETIMES ANTI-SOCIAL ALWAYS ANTI-RACIST
Remains a personal favourite but
BEING BLACK IS NOT A CRIME
.
Gets me the most love on the street
.
But most of all
.
I am grateful for…
.
The bus drivers
The firefighters
The restaurant
Deliver drivers
The subway train conductors
The launderette clerks
The grocery store workers
The farmer’s market workers
Which I happen to be one
The doctors
The nurses
The paramedics
The pharmacy workers
The protestors for the rights of all Black lives
The dead and the living
The mutual aid collectives
Giving food, water, medicine and household
Items to the people living hand to mouth
During this goddamn pandemic
And long before
.
All the heroes
Out front
In our service
Seeing to our immediate
Survival needs
.
They could use the praise
.
And you don’t need
Super powers
To be a hero
.
Just be there
Out front
For us—
.
Dee Allen. An African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early 1990s. Author of 5 books [Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater and Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press, and his newest from Conviction 2 Change Publishing, Elohi Unitsi ].
.
Dan Brady
.
The personal and impersonal
.
Who denies their chains
Those long-standing claims
From the empires of our past?.
.
Error    driven into fear
Misapprehensions    into enmity
Thence to greed     and onto war
.
Smoky battleground
Corpses strewn … a medallion glints
The long – justice – of silence
.
The parade   crowds cheer
The grim reaper waves …
Supporting    everyone’s troops
.
Midway barkers loud
Angry sky, blusters sweep papers
The Dark comes for its own
.
One thing I know
About this world’s ending …
No one will see it coming
.
We saw them
Titanic muscular clouds
Lightning flashed   there were eyes
.
We need to make calls
End this man now, lest this be how
Civilization falls – – –
. 
Mike Maggio
.
Innominate
.
I
Today, a tulip trembled in the breeze:
an urgent temptation to bloom.
.
II.
When I awoke,
it was to the delusion of dream.
.
III.
Outside, a vicious wind.
Outside, the trees. Fearful.
.
IV.
One moment, seclusion.
One moment, a prickly crown of memory.
.
V.
There’s nothing we can’t touch.
Nothing we can lay a finger on.
.
VI.
Sweet dove, waving from the wilderness,
wherefore this social distancing?
.
VII.
In a moment of delirium,
I journeyed to my mother’s grave.
.
VIII.
Nothing on the horizon.
Not even a ghosting of sun.
.
IX.
2,000,000+ sick.  200,000+ dead.
I cannot count to infinity.
.
X
One dark night, I witness my reflection
taunting the reaper.
.
Michael D. Amitin
.
Mambo’s Blues
.
Sad Spanish strains
Night street
.
All dissent quiet
Church mice sleeping
Humans creeping
Petrified forests
.
Papers run you around
Papers to walk the dog
Police looting city blocks
.
Forgotten masquerade masks soaking in
God forsaken puddles
Gloves, skeleton mud runners
.
Double fried kisses, canned peaches and mist
Stare from
Weathered shelves
Embraces on hold till a
Magic clock-strike twelve
.
Poets creak, Paris pastors reach,
The abandoned plunging
hollow cold-ice streams
.
With great introspection
Masses ponder the great dissection
.
Easter bunnies screw in tournesol sheds
The bum rap meds, no one to touch his hand
.
Lab rats grin as the mother
of all vaccines warms to the
Resounding orchestral death march
.
We stay together Keep our love
Hide in the never heard of
.
Knit our threads, bake our breads
Sing our songs, read Walt all night long
Nurses, doctor helping hands
Stave off the storm with clothespins
.
Nature heals, as the wheels roll off the highway
Rest like tires in a wilted roadside graveyard
.
Shutters flailing viral winds
Mind eye flashing gold
Designs of maladroit wine boats
Rocking ship shake harbors
On my droopy curtains
.
Sweet Suzy muse never forgets my address
Drops off provisions
Flipping bad luck coins
Like hot cakes griddle bound
To the sunrise…
.
Leapfrog fantasies
Kind of blue nights
Late winter Paris
Sunup
.
Mother earth freaking
Miracle balm on our last sundown legs
.
Used to trip on window pane
Now it’s tryptophane
Sleep away this nightmare, nevertheless
Ship ahoy, mates!
.
Jesus came down in a chariot
2nd coming time
Walls shaking, the frame was hot
big cigar chief told him
cool it with that riff of peace
we’re the visigoths..
.
The gothies
the meanest band in town
.
We’ve chucked the wafers for the great vaccine
Dissolves on your palate- a king’s tongue in his queen
wail in the water
and cream,
.
The great hereafter filled with brothels
n’ laughter, Louis playin’ the West End Blues,
He mused
.
Ay ye merry moutons
Line up, don’t ya’ cry
Take a shot, be an astronaut
A fireman to boot
.
Poet and musician, Michael D. Amitin travelled the roads of the American West before moving to Paris. Recently named International Beat Poet Laureate 2020-2021, Amitin’s poems have been published in California Quarterly, Poetry Pacific, Cajun Mutt Press, and others. A current collaboration with Parisian photographer Julie Peiffer has given rise to the “Riverlights” project.

 .

Mark J. Mitchell

 .
                                        Mass in Time of Plague
.
                                         (For Interior Choir)
                                    After Haydn, Mass in Time of War
.
1.         Kyrie
.
Let mercy roll like fog through every home.
Show mercy to all that can still see.
Let mercy flow to the known and unknown.
.
A slow silence drips from each untrimmed tree
And that gray chill touches each of your bones.
Show small mercy to all that you still see.
.
This morning love flows from a telephone.
Take that for now. Birdsongs and humming bees
Fly like mercy you’ve shown the known and unknown.
.
There’s more mercy than you’ll hope to see.
Let mercy flow into your sealed home.
Accept this gift: Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.

.

2.         Gloria
.
All your glory’s hidden by folded masks.
Pay no attention to the broken sky.
Count steps to the sidewalk. Savor the climb.
You must rise and converge. Everyone stand.
All that glory’s hidden by hand-made masks.
Soft fingers are unused to homely tasks.
Fold your sorrows now. No reason to cry.
Taste glory’s salt on your tongue. That scoundrel time
Must fall. Cover your face. Cover your hands.
Pay no attention to that broken sky.
Every word—even this—is a lie
And your glory’s hidden by fragile masks.
Those small slips, tiny errors—they are not crimes.
Cool morning sun cleans you. No, soft winds fan
Low clouds to the ocean. There’s nothing you lack.
Pay no attention to our broken sky.
Count the steps pavement asks you to climb.
So now—rise and converge. Now! Learn to stand.
.
3.         Qui tolis peccata mundi
(You who take away the sin of the world)
.
If you can replace the half-missed good-bye,
Then carry this prayer.
If you can separate the masked from the wounded
Then spill us some mercy.
If you can change boredom to devotion
You’re welcome to these prayers.
.
4.         Quoniam tu solo Sanctus
(For You alone are holy)
.
Solitude is not holy.
Absence is not holy.
Noise filled voids
Are never holy.
.
If you are holy,
It’s time to climb down.
Don’t make us
Beg for grace.
.
5.          Credo
.
Now—believe that dry cough’s perfect. Your last.
You’ll be sent away—now—we all believe—
To die alone. There’s nothing worse. We’ve learned
That breeze can kill. A stranger’s naked face
Means an end of time, but a cheap cloth sieve
Means hope. We believe this is what we’ve earned.
.
On empty streets—each and each—hides a face
That bears harm. We walk through an open sieve
Of foot traffic. We dance, slide, duck, we weave
Away from touch, sure it would be our last.
We don’t know why. But it’s time to believe
In threats we don’t see. We believe that a turn
Is coming. Even end times have an end.
.
We watch for sweat. That ill-omen of heat
Will find us—even believers. There’s no sieve
Fine enough for health. We believe retreat
Is carrying a battle forward. Terms
Enter our speech—spells and charms we believe
Almost true. We believe this cannot last.
We believe love, but we’ve forgotten her face.
The end, we believe, in the end, we burn.
.
6.       Benedictus
.
Bless silence, bless absence, bless our closed doors.
No exit is not a cell. We’ll learn to pray.
We’re intimate with windows, acquainted with floors,
blessed by silence, broken absence, stiff doors
with loud hinges. Now’s not a time for more
anything. Sit still, let ghost priests say,
Bells silent. Bless absence. Close doors.
This exitless cell is yours. Pace and pray.
.
7.   Agnus Dei
.
Bored lambs in a pen, we pray,
Take away sins we desire.
Softly enclosed, old lambs we ask,
Save us from desires we fear
We are, all of us, lambs of time:
Grant us peace.
.
Mark J. Mitchell’s novel, The Magic War appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied at Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. He lives with his wife, Joan Juster making his living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco until the pandemic hit.
.
2 Poems by Rikki Santer
.
Quarantine Spring
.
Coldest nights on record
tucking in the impatiens
with tattered thermal blankets
& days with a bad taste that rattles
.
like cod loins freezer-burned.
Brylcreemed ideas from a dangerous
podium, viscid shipping & handling
my emotions to the front door
.
landing me in moods for reduction.
The granular seepage of time,
my mind too near to itself.
I am a tiny balloon chasing
.
its string, dandelions shake their
heads, toss seeds to the squalls.
.
Landmark
.
The train, a wailing pronoun in the dark breath of night
when quarantine responds to quarantine and I ask myself
how do I get from here to the rest of the world
or scale a kinder incline beyond the noise
above this jittery, jumbled ground
my eyes rheumy with incessant news, lips dry
from the briny kiss of pundits.
Words gather to call upon landscape,
sleep a foreigner who keeps me up under a swollen moon
and I am weary of suggestions for further study
pregnant glossary of regrets,
and I am wedded
to my weary couch denuded in its binocular view.
The braying train again in periphery
its skein of myth and fable trails behind
spectral thresholds blinded by the winds,
a wolverine in my lap,
skulls dangle from trees
this tasseled place dead air
of press conference somewhere between scorched earth
and uncharted territory.
Train cars stuffed with under-songs of tarnished narratives,
clouds pinched across the much midnight sky.
.
Publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Hotel Amerika and The Main Street Rag. Santer was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Santer’s eighth collection,  Drop Jaw, was published this spring by NightBallet Press.
.
Benjamin Siegan
 .
American Summer, 2020
.
More record-breaking heat. With it comes assailing storms—sable skies peppered with bursts and cracks of bluish-white along with a torrent of rain and swells of harrowing wind. God help us when hurricane season hits. The downpour subsides as I prepare for my trek to work. More violent precipitation is predicted at day’s end, but for now, sultry air and ashen clouds prevail.
.
I check the traffic report. Another Black Lives Matter protest in midtown—collective calls for dignity, equality, compassion, and justice. Although traversing the assemblage will add time to my commute, I’m nothing but supportive of their efforts. I marched with them during the strife-ridden spring. But despite the need for systemic change coalescing with a looming, unmitigated plague, the job beckons—reopen in service of the plunging economy as sickness spreads.
.
News radio provides updates during my labor-bound drive. The President offers misinformation, contradictions, and snide, racist remarks. The Governor has nothing but empty platitudes and prepared sound bites. The Mayor conveys desperation, urging those who can to stay at home. But rent needs to be paid; money is required for food. Electricity, water, phone, car, and internet—their fees are indifferent to the virus. I also need to keep the digital distractions funded. I’m not too proud to admit that I might go mad without them.
.
Close to my destination, another obstacle—an angry throng making their way to City Hall. They wave Confederate flags. One banner features a crudely-drawn swastika. Some brandish pistols and assault rifles. They elevate signs with an amalgam of messages: All Lives Matter, Jesus Supports the 2nd Amendment, Open the Bars, Hilary and Obama—Partners in Treason, Quarantine=Socialism, Destroy the Deep State, I Need a Haircut, Re-elect Trump—Keep America Great, Protect White Heritage, COVID is a Democrat Hoax, Save the Aryan Race. Quite the pack of dangerous, hateful, morons, spreading ignorance and disease—a source of figurative and literal pollution. No doubt a few members of this despicable mob will venture into my place of business, requiring me to hold my tongue to continue employment and hold my breath to stave off illness.
.
Upon arrival at work, I put on my mask—a thick, garnet-colored cloth shield that spans the entire lower half of my face. The supervisor is required to provide a flimsy, disposal covering to those without. They fit poorly and frequently slip below the nose when speaking. I’m thankful I was able to procure my own washable, protective gear during the early phases of the pandemic. For once, being a paranoid germaphobe proved beneficial. My temperature is taken in the back room, out of public view, to confirm it is within normal parameters. I’m asked if any recognized symptoms are being experienced and affirm my healthy status. Industrial, indigo latex gloves are issued before I’m sent to the floor.
.
My assigned tasks have increased greatly from the Pre-Coronavirus era. In addition to my regular responsibilities, I must also enforce the company’s safety policies. Statutes are fluid, shifting from week to week. As of today, no one may enter without some form of mask, patrons must remain more than 6 feet apart from each other at all times, and the moving of tables and chairs is prohibited. Most are compliant, but there are always a handful who argue—labeling me a fascist, an oppressor, a violator of their rights and freedoms, with occasional bouts of screaming and swearing. Some acquiesce. Others make a scene before leaving and vowing never to return. My skin has grown thick. The insults and accusations fail to garner a reaction. I just repeat the stipulations in a detached, neutral tone and carry on.
.
The verbal abuse is much more tolerable than the cleaning mandates. After each customer has left, I must scrub down any surfaces they’ve touch with a pungent bleach solution. Bathrooms are scoured with disinfectant every hour. The chemicals sting my eyes. Sweat constantly pours from the brow. The perspiration bleeds into my pupils, making them constantly burn. I’ve taken to wearing bulky, lab goggles during sanitation duties. My peers mock me, but their ridicule pales in comparison to the harsh bite of noxious fumes.
.
The evening delivers its promised deluge. Drops of water spatter against the window with frenetic intensity. Physical and emotional exhaustion sets in. A final cleansing is administered, a complete sterilization from top to bottom. The tip jars are divided equally— a little, well-earned financial boost until my next paycheck is deposited.
.
I press through the turbulent weather that veils the moon and stars and casts night in its darkest incarnation. I opt for music on the return trip, drowning out detonations of thunder with the roar of guitars. A late, microwaveable dinner, one episode of a mindless television show, and I’m drifting into sleep—knowing I’ve done my part, made my contribution, to this horribly aberrant version of reality. I may not be saving lives, but I’m keeping people caffeinated. Such is the vital role of a barista in the summer of 2020.
.
Originally from Chicago, Ben Siegan had the good fortune of being influenced by the expansive literary and theater culture the city provided. While his career is that of an elementary educator, he has always dedicated his limited free time to the craft of writing. Siegan’s works have included collections of poetry, prose, material for the stage, and even a full-length rock opera. Now having settled in Virginia for the last decade, it is his hope to continue increasing efforts toward professional writing aspirations.
.
2 Poems by Anne Becker
.
Lockdown
.
Depression era glass
words cocked up
spill over the damn
in quarantine: fear our
human fellows, hope
to thread the labyrinth of
viral particulates hang
suspended, cling to
surfaces—how long—how
long—how long—left to our
own devices our fingers
strike—snake bites—our
hands full of lattice-like
molecules, traffic streams by
birds crazy at first light stake
their claims to the over story,
each house of bark, of leaves,
web of terrible green pollen
germ cell, extravagant
procreation, snore and
beep of nuthatch, happy
jeer of jay, flash of red—
of blue—gold finch cry
their desire for potato
chip, for chicory, the rust
wren for tea, little brown
jobs we strain to identify
all the egg blue shells
break before we cross
the path, deer stands at
my shoulder—awkward
tender smile—watches—
 you reborn—know I’m safe—
bounds past, in the air we
breathe, frightened and angry
there’s nothing we need do
queue of bright images—blink—
blink blink—blink—cry wolf,
cry whale, all the animals we
care for, foxes domesticate
themselves—same old traffic
sounds, sad coo of the train
clacks in the distance
eats us, breaks our
bread, its leathery crust,
slip crumbs beneath
dreadless masks, dust settles
old scores, dishes left
undone.
.
Social Distance
.
As when my son, first extruded
from the tissue that formed him,
head reluctant to quit the muscular
membrane that kept him safe,
unsure of the emptiness into which
he might fall, he and I are all about
food, and sleeping and waking—
but now no protest cry when we’re
hungry or desire sleep so much
we can taste it under our eyelids.
Now we cross town on asphalt
pathways to reach each other—
young bucks, their small rack
of antlers smothered in velvet,
step from the sheltering woods
to watch us pass—his beard
scraped away, his chin raw.
And I want so badly to swab A & D
ointment—the cure-all of childhood—
on the redden and blistered skin
of my son.  Although the chin is not
plush and inviting like the silken
round of the bottom, and I’m not
allowed to claim his body with
comforting, probing hands the way
I once did when I didn’t have to admit
our distance: my one cell, divided
and divided again and again, had
become him—not me. And, anyway,
in this time of deadly virus, we don’t
hug, we don’t kiss—although
because of his neuroatypical sense
of touch he has never liked the light
feathering of fingers on his flesh, he
doesn’t embrace often—like his
father—and his grandfather, my
father, before him—and when he
does, it’s a quick, hard press.
.
Anne Becker, poet and paper artist, leads a workshop, Writing the Body, for those who have experienced life-threatening or chronic illness. Her poems printed on her own handmade paper have been exhibited in the US and in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. She is a poetry editor of Burgeon, an arts journal based in Washington, DC.
.
Akshaya Pawaskar
.
Politics of nature
.
River by the city
is finally breathing
unmasked and sheer
free of the murky veneer.
The peacock flower
has shed its flames.
It stains the tarmac
with colors of a once
happier world.
On driving down
these concrete woods
a Sign post
reads -go slow
Wildlife crossing.
And even the pigeons
teeter on their
twiggy feet
like toddlers
learning to walk
their wings tired,
of being chased
empty roads inviting.
We sit at home
connected by wires,
cables and Ethernet
afraid of being tangible,
while the dogs continue
to lick their paws clean
and each other dry.
The buffaloes walk
in herds less than
a meter apart,
unsanitizied, carefree.
Six feet are for
humans, single files
are for the convicted.
When the tables turn
the entitled animals
become caged and
the caged ones
find an amnesty
a freedom though
of numbered days.
.
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Indian Ruminations, The Blue Nib, North of Oxford, Rock and Sling, Shards and Red Fez.
.
Amy Barone
.
A Dawning
.
Orange-yellow flare on the horizon.
Trees still shrouded in night.
Relief at the gift of more hours.
Summoning angels to flex their might.
From towers of closed churches, bells chime.
.
 Amy Barone’s poetry collection, We Became Summer, from New York Quarterly Books, was released in early 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing.) Barone’s poetry appears in Local Knowledge, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin, and Standpoint (UK.) She lives in NYC.
.
Judy DeCroce and Antoni Ooto
.
Open Window
.
invisible nemesis
coyote wind sighing
over the sill—
.
what is not done, wastes,
as every hour stalls scattering
in time, in place
.
a foreign breeze,
hitching a way in
.
messenger in a gale,
seemingly empty yesterday
yet rock-solid—leaning forward
.
Passing
.
A time of extremes; late and clearer,
sharp shadows of loss.
.
Indecision and reflection, as night
rests on other ages.
.
Fate holds all the cards
shuffles with slight-of-hand
and deals out lives
into unknown places.
.
While few small moments remain.
.
Internationally published writers, storyteller and educator Judy DeCroce, and poet/artist Antoni Ooto are based in Upstate New York. Married and sharing a love of poetry, they gather inspiration during their morning poetry sessions.  Over a pot of coffee, they listen, critique, and revise their work.
.
Ben Nardolilli
.
Knowing the Vine
.
Trying to bring the outside inside, and what better way
than to become a primitive agriculturist?
some plants on the balcony, some flowers in the kitchen,
maybe a tree will grow rootless in a bucket
in the middle of my room in the middle of Brooklyn
.
Forgive the changes in spaces, and alterations in spirit,
my body’s not a temple anymore and palms
won’t give me the future, whether they hold cards or not.
Time to get working on a fertility cult, right now
it’s not clear if this God is shaped like a man, or a bull
.
What flourishing! I can already smell the succulents,
and yes, some crops are for my consumption,
smoke and sauce, I make them both thanks to my growth,
it’s a wonderful way to recycle when the street
is too sick to walk on, and only good for running away
.
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Local Train Magazine, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is trying to publish his novels.
.
Jane ‘SpokenWord’ Grenier
.
My f*cking Virus poem #1
.
in the city of the undead
6 ft apart
your cough I dread
your breath
where’s your mask
get the fuck away from me
I’m busy not touching groceries
locked down in my room
as the heroes’ work through doom and gloom
in the city of the undead
6ft apart
we wait instead
don’t touch
there are corpses
death by viral sources
nurses underdressed
doctors depressed
workers
drivers
all looking for protection
orange man boasting perfection
death from oblivious discombobulation
.
Jane ‘SpokenWord’ Grenier’s performances range from the Whitney Museum w/Cecil Taylor, to festivals, libraries, slam lounges, galleries, clubs, busking street corners and living rooms everywhere. Publications: 2 books of poetry w/art and audio – Word Against the Machine & Tragically Hip; Good Housekeeping, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe; anthologies: Rogue Scholars Express, Bonsia Publications, Oh-Wow Publications, and the National Beat Poetry Anthology’ 2019.
.
3 Poems Barbara Crooker
.
Worry Beads
.
I wish I could quiet the voices
in my head, the ones with the projected
infection rate, the viral spread, the body
count.  It’s been three months
since I’ve seen my grandkids,
except on a screen.  My county
is still under lockdown, and there’s
a curfew, which really doesn’t matter,
as there’s no place to go.  This is not
like a blizzard or hurricane, some
outages, then the storm passes.
This is the season of subtraction,
as faces of friends disappear.
What items will be gone
from the grocery store this week?
Popcorn, flour, hand sanitizer, yeast?
But spring has returned,
and bare sticks break out into blossoms:
azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel.
The grass has spread a plush carpet,
and orioles gorge on sweet orange slices.
Maybe these are the good times,
with darkness to follow?  My skin sings
whenever you touch me.   Hold me,
my darling, as long as you can.
.
Daily News
.
And so this day is like every other,
beginning with coffee and ending
with wine.  But with nowhere
to go, and nothing to do, I’m
going to take my time, sit
in the morning sun and savor
the darkness, black and bitter
In the larger world, terrible
things continue to happen.
Here, the only action
is the hummingbird zipping
and sipping sugar water,
jazzed on sweetness, in love
with the sun.  In the herb
garden, lavender, rosemary,
sage, thyme release their scents
as the heat rises.  The implacable
sky is laid down with a paint roller.
Schedules and deadlines no longer
matter.  If a small chore needs
to be done, we do it; there is
no later, only now.  We miss
our friends, see our neighbors
only at a distance.  There isn’t
any news to share.  The sun
traverses the sky, the day
passes, just like the one before.
Soon, shadows will lengthen,
and the stars will print
their reports in the dark,
which echoes the consolation
of wine filling my glass.  I
remember to thank the grapes,
crushed on my behalf.
Tomorrow, we’ll do this
all over again.
.
NOVEMBER 18, 2019
.
I didn’t know it then, but this was the last good day.
I was in the glittering city, visiting an old friend.
We walked on a busy street to the 9-11 Memorial,
the gold of late November reflected in the glass
windows, the water’s mirror.  Ate dinner
in a crowded restaurant, so close to the next table,
we could have joined their conversation.  Traded
bites of pumpkin tortellini, scallops in wine,
shared a crême brulée.  Sipped a bit of wine
from each other’s glass.  Rode the subway.
Grabbed the last two seats for a sold-out show,
then strolled Times Square, bathed in the neon
glow. We didn’t realize then that these were things
we would not do again.  That life would become:
An Emergency Room, An Isolation Ward,
An Abandoned Mall, A Shuttered School.
That this was as good as it would ever get,
and that the rest was silence.
.
Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry; Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series) is her latest.  Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence, and Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Compassion
.
2 Poems by Tim Suermondt
.
  Counting the Beautiful Days
.
And there are a lot of them,
hanging on despite the discontent
and absolute horrors of the long
months we’ve had to deal with.
I walk the quieter city streets,
keeping my distance only because
I have to, but I feel the ghosts
of thousands in the very air, readying
for their moment to create
a crowd, become flesh and bone
again, surprising themselves at how
crowded, often dirty subway cars
hold a sparkle, a small beauty after all.
.
  Left to the Sailboats
.
The birds follow me until
they realize: he plumb forgot the bread.
.
I go left to the sailboats, just a few
bobbing around on the water, more boring
.
than inspiring, how I miss the great ships.
Where did they go? I ask America—
.
I know she’s here, somewhere.
.
Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest Josephine Baker Swimming Pool from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, North of Oxford, Bellevue Literary Review, Stand Magazine, december magazine, On the Seawall, Poet Lore and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.
.
2 Poems by Michele Riedel
.
Covid protest
.
“The caged bird wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he open his throat to sing”
Maya Angelou
.
Flat on my back,
feverish and faint, I dissolve
into the dark corners of tallying symptoms-
splintered lungs, lost breath.
.
Cell phone buzzes—
George Floyd, George Floyd!
I want to shout out in solidarity
across this broken land
.
but the scratch of bent birds
in their cages
press into my chest with every
clawing cough. My pillow
Is hard pavement.
.
I push into the tarred fear,
the sear of every swallow,
try to hold breath 8 minutes—
the pulse pounding torment
of no reply.
.
Basketball in hand,
a scared teen
chances to cross a street
disappears into the night
of no reply.
.
Someone’s mom in ICU
another alone in ER,
a nurse without PPE
all cry in the dark night
of no reply.
.
A man shelters
in place under park bench
in the dark night
of no reply.
.
I black out my screen,
take a picture of the night
starless and shadowed,
wait for morning light—
.
think about how a cloud
shifts and a piercing light
appears,
how wings touch in flight,
silvered and soaring
.
and scarred throats find
their songs.
.
Zoom yoga
.
You are eating chips in your
undershorts.
I lie that they can see.
You belch, knees and ankle poppig
as you land on your mat;
phone blinking like emergency flashers.
.
A moan as your shoulder bends
stiffly in cobra pose.
You finally ignore message alerts
as we move into bridge pose
while Abbycat brushes our legs extra
slowly with her whiskers.
.
The instructor reminds us to breathe deeply.
I razzle my exhale
trying to sound like Lauren Bacall.
.
We windmill into three legged dog.
only legs and feet viewable—
look lost in each little meet up box.
.
I marvel how she manages, re-images
moves us from space to connection.
.
Put your head on straight!
I adjust my neck.
She says it again and I laugh—
you tell me to be quiet
.
Soon, our minds are lost somewhere
between couch and ottoman.
Two minutes into deep relaxaton
you’re snoring.
.
Sunlight falls through skylight
softening shadows, muting your edges
In this moment, you are illumine,
an angel.
.
Michele has been published in Streetlight Magazine, MCV Literary Messenger, River City Poets Anthology, versewrights.com, thebezine.com and has a poetry blog at www.wordpalettes.wordpress.com. She loves to attend critiques, workshops and open mike events and has found a supportive community with River City Poets. She taught Reading and ESL (English as a second language) in elementary schools and loves the written word.
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Diane Wilbon Parks
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What If There is Light at the End of this Pandemic?
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the air splinters and bleeds into a hush
that   swallows   whole –    its  prey,
that spits out a rosebud of bones  and broken wings.
we    attempt  miniature flights,
but   fall back to weightlessness
into silk strands of  what   was,
 into January’s cold white winter
 when fingers were allowed touch,
when breathing was not caged.
what if,    what was,  could   be  again,
 and  if,   hope could stay, longer?
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The air’s staggard breathing
opens  up crowded rooms,
Covid’s pale white ghost
 drifts  indiscriminately,
blows into consenting lungs
that are born to breathe,   to carry,
this haunting pandemic
 crouches in waiting rooms
searches for light
to dim its flicker
 to darkened,
and sinks deep
 in the earth at dawn.
what if we could loom
 into what was
and open its silence,
wipe clean this virus,
this pandemic,
 this racial divide?
What if   prisoned by this glass,
this mask, this door, this lock,
 this isolation
deletes this dry cough
and its toxic fingerprints,
removes this virus,
enlighten our perspective
for inclusion,    our
hopes of
 unity?

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Diane Wilbon Parks is a visual poet and artist. Diane has written two poetry collections. Diane’s been recognized as a Prince George’s County, Poet of Excellence. She is an U. S. Air Force Veteran and resides in Maryland.

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Summer Pandemic Issues

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #5

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-6/

Spring Pandemic Issues 

North of Oxford presents The Pandemic Issues.

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/__trashed-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #2

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #3

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-3/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-4/

Diane and George April 2020

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Stay Calm – Stay Safe – Stay Home and When Out and About Wear a Mask
Diane Sahms and g emil reutter

 

Call for Pandemic Poetry Submissions

pandemic

Due to the overwhelming response to our four Pandemic Issues we published in April, and continued interest, we will once again publish poetry concerning the pandemic. Please send us your best work and how the pandemic has affected you, your neighborhood, and your country. As the virus continues its unrelenting attack, we urge all to be safe and wear a mask.

Send your submission in one Word doc. with no more than four poems, including a 50 word bio. Please send to sahmsguarnieriandreutter@gmail.com . The deadline for submissions to the new pandemic issue is August 10thDue to the anticipated response we will not be able to respond to each individual submission and all submissions received after August 10th will be discarded.

North of Oxford presents The Pandemic Issues.

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/__trashed-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #2

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-2/

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #3

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-3/

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/north-of-oxford-the-pandemic-issue-4/

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https://dianesahmsguarnieri.wordpress.com/

https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/