poems

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #2

Rooted (1)

Painting – Rooted by Belinda Subraman

Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #2 from North of Oxford. In order of  appearance we present: Ray Greenblatt, Cathleen Cohen, Cameron Morse, Ed Meek, Joan Mazza, Hiram Larew, April Penn, Grace Andreacchi, Mary Shanley, Bruce E. Whitacre, Jonie McIntire, Lindy Warrell, Nicole Yurcaba, Thaddeus Rutkowski, and Mike Cohen.

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Three Poems by Ray Greenblatt 
.
Losing Time
.
Last night rain tumbled
and ticked down metal drain pipes
making us restive in our beds
glancing the clock numberless times
not certain when we slept.
Today is glaringly
clear, yet, it feels like
the virus continues
to pound on the door.
Meanwhile, nature pushes up
its pinks, purples, golds
and infant whitenesses
as if all was well.
.
Virus
.
The sunlight in the school
across the street is
the only thing alive.
.
As the day rotates
the light moves up and down
the stairway forming students
from glare and shadow.
.
In a classroom it highlights
assignments on the board
now many months old.
.
Emergency lights
remain on at night
automatically.
.
Maintenance wanders the rooms
pushing vacuums at dust
inevitable but
no longer made by children.
.
The Moments
.
We sit in a stern little family group
holding hands for grace
staring at each other
trying to absorb every feature
we might have overlooked
might have never noticed before.
Each bite of our meal
we savor though humble.
          This might be the time for lasts.
Let music we love ring through
our brains like fond echoes.
The book we are reading
we have reread but want
to cherish each word
like never before.
.
Ray Greenblatt is an editor on the Schuylkill Valley Journal. His book reviews have been published by a variety of periodicals: BookMark Quarterly, Joseph Conrad Today, English Journal, the Dylan Thomas Society, and the John Updike Society. His new book of poetry, Nocturne & Aubades, is newly available from Parnilis Press, 2018.
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Three Poems by Cathleen Cohen
.
Pandemic Week Four
.
I eye my grandmother, so young
in the photo.
.
She gazes
                 not at me, but
.
out towards the yard
where blue jays knock wrens off the feeder.
.
She leans her chin on fingers
spread out like a fan.
Braids cradle her white neck,
a column, a monument.
.
What now? I cry.
.
She was 18 during the Spanish flu.
Circuit singer, sent back money
to her mother.
.
How we children adored her
singing, playing waltzes on piano
as we twirled. She was always
joking, chirping.
.
So you must have words now!
I implore, but she sits,
elegant, unmoved.
.
I tug her like a doll
from room to room,
position her on tables, chairs, desk
with a view the window, but
.
no,
turn her to face
my stricken face.
.
Measures
.
At first I count
strides
            (each a foot length)
as my mother taught
to measure rugs or the length of a room
when buying a couch.
.
This was decades back.
But now I practice
                              pacing 6 feet
.
then venture out, shocked
by blue jays swooping
.
and the bright red hat
of my neighbor
                        who appears near the hedge
without warning.
.
He’s lonely, wants to chat.
I freeze like a deer, edge back, measure
risk,
       which is not static.
.
Three teens jog past, safe
at a distance but
they’re shouting companionably.
One spits on the ground.
.
Is it safe
                  to pass that place?
When will we adapt
to this new way to orbit?
.
Between Us
.
As was written,
our trials can be lengthy:
forty years of desert wandering,
forty days of shelter in the ark.
.
But I also think of Moses
forty nights on the mountain,
cowering at first, shivering
in a crevice, surrounded by
.
thundering  voice
.
but ultimately
open, receiving.
.
He carried back radiance,
a glimpse of presence.
.
Now I search for radiance
(not in portents or the news)
but in bird flight,
the changing colors of hours,
beloved voices,
prayers sung from balconies, extending
beyond walls.
.
For walls are temporary, porous
to the  radiance
.
that must pass between us.
.

Cathleen Cohen is the Founder and creator of ArtWell’s core program, We the Poets, and a member of ArtWell’s Board of Directors (effective 2018). Following her retirement in 2015 as a treasured member of ArtWell’s staff as Education Director, Cathy continued in a volunteer capacity. As a master teacher, poet, and literacy specialist, she serves as a vital mentor to new Teaching Artists and volunteers. Cathleen holds a Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, a BA from The Johns Hopkins University and a certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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Three Poems by Cameron Morse
.
Crucifixion of a Phantasm
.
Spring rain self-quarantine,
Augustine flays below the scourge
of bodily sickness. COVID-19
the topic of every breakfast, herd
immunity and high-dose Vitamin C,
how you refused baptism
even as your fever heightened.
Christ being nothing to you then
but a phantasm. Outside,
hyacinths purple dank mulch
with their royal robes.
Robins drop to the rippling bird bath
in the light-spangled orchard,
cardboard boxes sogging curbside
in recycling bins. I seize
upon the quarantine to learn the rules
for recycling, the new labels,
and rip the plastic window
screen from a box of spaghetti
noodles. Inhale the cleansing
chill of social distancing: school
closed, reading cancelled,
and today’s sky doubtless is a kind
of phantasm, perhaps even
a phantasm crucified, for all I know.
Its pallor overwhelms me.
.
Infected
.
Vacuity wonders where the world is
that perched upon its shoulder.
Wonders where the wonder
of the world went. Will anything
I say now make sense to me after I’m well?
Will you clear the cobwebs from my eye
shells? Vacuity listens to itself
in the conch, its own voice
carping from a great distance.
Its fatigue is talking. Shrill
as a crow in hardnosed winter air.
Its fatigue lets the dogs
spill into the house, pounce over September’s
bright new upholstery. Lets its forehead
sink into the heel of a hand.
There is no helper here, Vacuity thinks,
where there used to be thoughts.
The virus is everywhere.
.
Burr Oak Woods
.
A walker in black
leggings, pink-dyed hair,
raises her makeshift
mask to ask who stole her car,
where in the woods is
the lost parking lot that holds it.
Worn with cares and fears,
writes Augustine. A screenshot
from Facebook confirms
seven Costco workers COVID-19
where we buy pullups and wipes.
Bethany Falls Trail with Theo
for the first time, my two-year-old
emptying the spray bottle in his
mouth. My body unclenches
on a bench beside the gravel path.
All is stillness in the woods,
the oceanic wind surge, rat-a-tat
blast of somewhere a woodpecker,
faraway rumble of an airplane
lifting its crucifix over us
or against. For each passerby,
I yank my boy into the understory.
For great intervals of time,
there is only us, a single trunk
somewhere is thinly creaking.
.
Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, Portland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Baldy (Spartan Press, 2020). He lives with his wife Lili and two children in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. https://cameronmorsepoems.wordpress.com/
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On Pandemic Island by Ed Meek
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Now the seven days have become one.
Every day the Monday of a long weekend.
It’s National work-from-home-day.
Call your parents, friends, siblings’ day.
Home school day.
.
Wherever we are, we now inhabit a small town.
S, we take long, meandering strolls.
Random cars cruise deserted streets.
Weary of strangers, we startle
At sniffles, coughs and sneezes.
.
We give everyone a wide berth,
Navigating around them
As if we are in boats.
We live in the singularity
Of the eternal present.
Every day like a snow day
without snow. We plan
for the indefinite future
on an etch a sketch
.
.

Ed Meek has been published by Dash, Constellations, Blue Mountain Review, What Rough Beast, Red Wheel Barrow Review. My new book, High tide, is coming out this summer..

Three Poems by Joan Mazza
.
Sonnet for Covid19
.
Before the quarantine, I made plans
for how I’d spend the time alone at home
with only cats for company. No drone
to deliver milk or eggs. I wash my hands
as soon as I return with what might be
the last fresh lettuce, cucumbers, lemons
for a while. Everywhere—lurking demons
both bacterial and viral. Pity
those who don’t have extra for any extra
food or tissues, would not think of hoarding
Chapstick, dental floss, or Bach recordings,
plus paper books for the coming trifecta
of contagion, solitude, and ennui.
Creating keeps me from going screwy.
.
Silly Shopping on eBay
.
Balm for anxiety, we’re shopping online
buying essentials like coffee and chocolate,
wine and brandy for those who still drink.
Booze sales boom during the threat of Covid19
as it presses against a shortage of masks.
.
I won’t be buying troll dolls with succulents
growing out of their heads, or vintage Barbies
in their original box and clothes for seven
thousand dollars. No tall platform sandals for me,
no exfoliating scrub, or off-the-shoulder blouses—
.
already passé. I don’t need home hair dye kits
or articles on how to pass the time during
the quarantine. I’m grateful not to be married
to Pence or Falwell or Bundy, or the gun and ammo
collectors I once knew. My days are full, hours
.
too few. Like other quilters with a ginormous stash,
I find large scraps for sewing masks and make
them reversible. I’d add some silly beads or buttons,
beards of ribbons. But no to bling. Extra texture
might offer coronavirus another way to cling.
.
No embroidered leaves and daisies like those
on jeans in the sixties, no childish charms will dangle.
I could make bread and rolls shaped like genitalia,
cookies iced with bawdy words to bake my rage
at feeling helpless. But I’m still on a healthy track,
.
won’t gain back pounds I shed. When I come out
of the world of dread, you won’t recognize this thin
and sober, pale and mindful me in my snazzy veil.
.
What I’m doing in quarantine that I didn’t do before
.
My fantasies have changed from a larger house,
tropical vacations and ocean swimming
to shopping at Costco, Walmart, and Food Lion.
In my reveries, I restock my supplies without
the worry of using up my paper products. I stroll
the aisles of specialty shops and choose imported
spices, fresh and crisp broccoli rabe, lettuce,
.
artichokes, and cucumbers. I fill two carts
without fear of stares or microbes lurking
on the wagon’s handle or in the air. In my best
fantasy, I find everything I could ever want
or need, a dream of organic fresh vegetables
that don’t rot. My trash, including wet cat litter,
disappears as soon as I place it on my porch.
.
Today I write in that small leather notebook
of handmade paper and a metal clasp, once
too good to use, record my gratitude for my
deep freezer, electricity, and well water.
Every day, I bless the letter carrier, who
delivers packages and mail, and I repeat
my thrill to have the Internet in my house
.
in the woods. I didn’t expect to be so happy
to be alone without the men who collected
guns and ammo, men who got drunk and found
fault with how I spent my time and money,
except when I paid for beer. I never thought
I’d so easily fall in love again
with my sewing machine, fabrics, thread.
.
Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia. www.JoanMazza.com
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Spoons or Rakes By Hiram Larew
.
What we need now
            is glow –
The sort of night that embers make
The sound in nests
         or apples’ shapes
A glow that gives more than it takes
The kind of spoons or rakes
                 that neighbors love
Those shoreside waves that warm the boats
We need the wool of passing years
               or more
What holding does when little’s near
.
Larew’s fourth collection, Undone, was issued in 2018 by FootHill Publishing.  On Facebook at Hiram Larew, Poet and on www.PoetryXHunger.com
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Two Poems by April Penn
.
Bring a book
.
I don’t recommend reading A People’s History of the United States
by Howard Zinn during prolonged periods of self-isolation.
.
I do recommend the book.
It does much to fight against ruling class narratives of history, but
it’s hard to hear the same cries against oppression over and over,
and see that so many died, unanswered,
and wonder what then will become of us now?
How come what can be foreseen cannot be prevented?
.
History teaches that ideas are not enough.
History is repetitive and boring without poetry.
.
I am reading poetry while also reading A People’s History.
That’s the compromise I struck
against merely listing off a string of tragedies.
.
Shortages
.
Good thing
I can’t
write a poem on
a roll of toilet paper
.
because if I could
I would still have to use
that toilet paper
to wipe my ass
.
and then depending
on who you ask
these poems would be
more or less appealing
.
Everything that goes in
must come out,
but that isn’t true.
Sometimes pain never
.
finds a way to leave.
Does that mean that pain
doesn’t enter or exit?
Pain like water colors
.
bleeding into each other,
escaping boundaries,
self-hood, ah, at last
the artist has to go.
.

April March Penn is a queer poet who visits Anne Sexton’s grave and conducts tarot readings for real and imaginary friends. Penn’s poetry is published in What Are Birds, The Offing, The Fem, The Deaf Poet Society, Maps for Teeth, Provocateur, and other literary magazines. They have featured in Boston at the Cantab Poetry Lounge, Out of the Blue Gallery, and Stone Soup Poetry. Follow them on Instagram: @pennapril

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Viral by Grace Andreacchi
.
It can’t hurt us
it’s too far away
(that’s what we said at first)
It can’t hurt us
let’s dance, let’s play
.
When it came closer still
we thought we were safe
look outside! the sun is shining
the world is not coming to an end
that’s what we said
.
Soon, very soon we were dead
first the old and the weak
then the little children
then everyone else
.
the earth did not mourn us
only the cats and dogs
for a little while wondered
turned sad frightened eyes
in search of us, this way and that
and then forgot
.
the birds in their cages
screamed and starved
after that all birds were free
the ocean returned to the fish
the air to itself, pure and sweet again
.
the foxes moved into our empty houses
made themselves at home
tearing rabbits to bits on the sofa
sleeping in our beds
.
the lion chased rich prey
through golden waves of grass
the tigress gave birth to sweet wet cubs
in the humming forest
the birds made fresh nests
in the new sprung woods
.
the earth did not mourn us
greedy monkeys
too clever for our own good
some of us were beautiful
some of us were kind
we perished along with the rest
nobody left to say goodbye
.
Grace Andreacchi was born and grew up in New York City. She was educated at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula High School, and went on to study theatre at the Stella Adler Studio. A brief period on the stage was followed by the study of philosophy, first at Hunter College (New York City), and then at Binghamton University (Binghamton, New York). Since 1989 Andreacchi has lived in Europe, moving first to Paris, then rural Normandy, and later to Berlin (1994–1998) and London, where she now resides.
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A Smooth Stone By Mary Shanley
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and when you touch it remember
.
the waterfall splashing at Jefferson
Market Garden, remember the Japanese
Garden in Golden Gate Park.
.
Remember to take time to sit
in quietude and let the serenity
wash your clean from the images
of global destruction from the killer virus.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and remember to wear a face mask
to cover your nose and mouth.
Protection from Covid 19, invisible killer
that will take our lives if we don’t practice
social distancing and stay inside.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and live one day at a time. Forget
trying to envision what our world
will be like when the virus is stopped.
No one knows the post virus world.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and wash your hands multiple times
per day. Try not to touch your face.
This is deadly serious.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and hope the president will have
an awakening an realize how
reckless and dangerous his inaction
towards Covid 19 has been.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and hope the president will care
more about life than the stock market.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and hope the president will release
funds for first responders’s safety
equipment and ventilator’s.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and give thanks for all the health
professionals who have come out
of retirement to stand on the front
lines of the Covid 19 war.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket and hope that
The inept and dangerous president 45 will be removed
from office on election day, 2020.
.
Put a smooth stone in your pocket
and remember to keep holy your thoughts
about those sick and dying from this virus
today.
.
Mary Shanley, poet/storyteller, living in New York City with her wife, Lisa Genet.
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What I Saw at Station Square By Bruce E. Whitacre
.
I will walk to Station Square
Though I won’t take the train
Or check out new cocktails at the bar.
I won’t worry about departures or arrivals,
Weather delays or locked waiting rooms.
I haven’t looked at a schedule for weeks.
Tickets crumple in my pocket.
The trackside trees are leafing out without me.
The funny man who pees all the time
Is no longer a comfort station customer.
The pushy lady who grabs the first seat
Must now roll easily from kitchen chair to couch,
I suppose.
.
            We gaze at screens, not out the windows
Of the empty trains passing by without us
Through a region frozen in emergency,
Of seething hospitals and blinded shops.
Trains clack over the heads of parents juggling children
And accounts unaided and without success:
Too much out of reach; too much passed them by;
Too many cash-earners gone.
Their losses will pull the spikes from all our rails,
Knock the train from the trestle,
And there will be nothing to wait for
Coming round the bend.
.
I turn back down the silent streets
And walk home from Station Square.
.
Until recently Bruce E. Whitacre was a nonprofit manager in the theatre field. His work has been published in the online journal, Cagibi, and he has been featured reader at the Forest Hills, Queens Public Library.  He received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and has served as a literary and theatre manager in the nonprofit sector.
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Three Poems by Jonie McIntire
.
Easter Sunday for Cynics
.
When churches weren’t open
or her legs too brittle to hold,
my grandmother would watch
on tv, read from pamphlets, reread
old passages in a tattered bible.
.
She found God every time,
from Jerry Falwell to
the cartoons of the Latter day
Saints to the sun on her back porch.
.
I wake early, Easter Sunday in a
cynic’s house during dark times,
and I check on the robin’s nest
tucked away in a second-story
corner window ledge.
.
Three days ago, just mud and straw.
Then one egg within a day,
two in another. Now,
three perfect eggs more beautiful
than sky or sea.
.
Would You Rather – Covid Edition
.
Go to the local grocery store looking like a bandito at high noon
or have to forage in the back of your pantry for something involving saltines and spicy mustard?
.
Be stuck at home with your relatives in a house where everything echoes and creaks
or be stuck in a small quiet space with all of your loved ones scattered elsewhere?
.
Start training for a marathon though the weather is tit-chilling bitter
or make day-drinking a practice you perfect so well you are usually asleep by 7 pm?
.
Spend so much time with your significant other that you are constantly
fucking or fighting (but both are very passionate)
.
or spend so much time seeking solitude that here we are in this house together with only our resentments to share?
.
Third Week of Quarantine
.
Because we hear
highway traffic
even in the house,
.
it is easy to think
we can go,
but watching cars from
.
bedroom window,
he mistakes longing
for love and still
.
has no idea
if I like green mints
or red.
.
Jonie McIntire, author of Beyond the Sidewalk (NightBallet Press, 2017) and Not All Who Are Lost Wander (Finishing Line Press, 2016), will be releasing her third chapbook, Semidomesticated, later this year. She hosts two monthly poetry reading series, Uncloistered Poetry and Art & Performance Poetry, and is the poetry editor for Springboard, a teen literary journal. Recipient of an Arts Commission Accelerator Grant, she has poems published in journals across the country and even stamped into cement in Toledo, Ohio as part of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo’s Sidewalk Poetry series.
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Coronatime by Lindy Warrell
.
How very lucky
you and I
to see the sky
and breathe.
.
Lindy lives by the sea in Glenelg, South Australia. Her poems appear online, and in journals and anthologies. She has recently published three chapbooks of free verse, evoking the Australian outback, cityscapes, old age, random moments and disturbing things.

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Two Poems by Nicole Yurcaba
.
1.
at times
i feel clandestine
as i whisper
i have information
to the grocery shelves’ remnants
i carried home in a freezer bag
.
2.
fantasy:
i strip
for Richard Z. Kruspe
while wearing
fishnets
and a N95 mask
.
Nicole Yurcaba is a Ukrainian-American poet and essayist, who teaches at Bridgewater College and serves as the Assistant Director to the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival.
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Homeless Friend by Thaddeus Rutkowski
.
I see my homeless friend
(“friend” might be an exaggeration,
but we know each other’s names).
He is where I expect to see him,
but he isn’t sitting on his usual bench.
He is sitting on a fire hydrant
that has a cover: a sort of lampshade
over the knobby top of the pipe.
“They took away the bench,” he says.
We look through a display window
and see the bench inside a fancy café.
“They’ll bring it back out,” I say,
but I’m not sure if that will happen anytime soon.
The bench might stay inside for months,
until the shutdown ends.
.

Thaddeus Rutkowski lives and writes in New York City. Thaddeus Rutkowski

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Four Poems by Mike Cohen
.
Unable to Make Sense of It (April 2020)
.
Senses don’t always make sense.
In the midst of the viral pandemic,
you get the sense
of being invulnerable to anything else –
that all you have to do is avoid the dread disease
and you’ll survive.
.
A middle aged man, walking
along a crowded sidewalk,
steps off the curb to maintain
healthy social distance from other passersby,
and is struck by a utility truck.
.
His death,
though brought about by the pandemic,
is not attributed to the disease.
Just another senseless casualty.
.
Humanity and Virulence (March 2020)
.
Uh-oh! Here comes another of those humans.
Of course, I’m human too, but
I know the human coming toward me
is not me.
And he’s likely loaded with viruses.
Most of us are. And his collection of viruses
is probably different from mine.
Some viruses are more virulent than others, some less;
just as some humans are more human than others, some less.
But I intend to stay clear of this human
and his viruses,
however virulent or human they may be.
.
Infected (March 30, 2020)
.
The demon is inside.
Inside you is a deadly virus
or a deadly fear
of a virus so deadly
it can scare you to death.
Either way,
there’s nothing you can do.
Once you’ve let it in,
the demon is inside.
.
Helpless (March 2020)
.
The impassive grey sky does nothing to cheer us.
It looms, immovable as the thought of a virus
that hangs in the air between our heads
and the unfeeling firmament.
I throw stones at it, want it to crack
a smile, let a sliver of blue show through,
release a beam or two to shimmer down
and halo someone – anyone – to save us.
But my stones fall short,
come down, each with a thud,
as the grey sky looks on, unimpressed.

.

Mike Cohen lives and writes in Philadelphia. You can find him at: MIKE COHEN SAYS

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#2 cover

 

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

Under the Corona Moon (1)

Painting – Under the Corona Moon  by Belinda Subraman

Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #1 from North of Oxford. In order of  appearance we present: Howie Good, Marion Deutche Cohen, Alan Toltzis, Charles Rammelkamp, Gloria Parker, Len Krisak, Ed Krizek, Mervyn Taylor, Carl Kaucher, M. J. Arcangelini, Eileen R. Tabios, Bryon Beynon, Greg Bem, Richard Nester and John D. Robinson.

 

Flight into Darkness By Howie Good

I seem to have discovered my shadow side – a wardrobe with mystery contents, blue and purple and full of leprous spots. Which isn’t to say I feel sad or lonely. Rather, I’m noticing different details. The world right now, mostly it’s news of the virus. We first heard the rumors from travelers. Men: quiet, faces drawn; women: often sobbing. We didn’t believe them. The weather was just too beautiful. We lazed around, eating cherries, one basket after another, and ignored the shrill, jangly bird cries and the elderly stumbling down the road from time to time, buckling under their loads..

Howie Good is the author of What It Is and How to Use It (2019) from Grey Book Press, among other poetry collections.

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March 2020 By Marion Deutsche Cohen
.
“Don’t touch your face,” we’re told, so then my nose starts itching.
And anyway, my face is lonely for my hands.
My hands are lonely for my face.
My body loves itself.
Every part of my body loves every other part.
“Stay six feet away,” we’re told
but my hands can’t get six feet away from my face.
.
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Two Poems by Alan Toltzis
.
Coronavirus Sky
.
“In Los Angeles. . .air pollution has declined
   and traffic jams have all but vanished.”
                    The New York Times
.
Parting her pouting lips, the sky streamed in.
Blue swirled around her tongue, her teeth,
coating the insides of her cheeks. Jaws clenched,
she swallowed once and then again, becoming
the wild blue and feathered thing
she always expected she would be.
.
Rattled
.
Breath—damp, warm,
rhythmic—rose in small puffs
from the top of my face mask,
clouding my glasses.
.
We had set out
to hike the reservoir,
but the virus closed it.
So we skirted it instead,
edging along narrow curves
of hard-packed, yellow dirt
hemmed between road
and retaining wall
that braced the hillside.
.
And there, at shoulder height
atop the retaining wall,
tongue and fangs locked me in.
The rear half of the snake’s body
slowly slunk back and sideways,
defending itself—an unyielding
cacophony of gravel and rattle.
We veered off the path
into the street. Stunned,
shaken, giddy with relief,
we warned two hikers,
wearing bandanas,
desperado style over their faces.
.
That night,
clouds obscured moon and stars.
We felt their influence, anyway.
The rain started
and I considered three elements
that guide us in times of crisis:
safety, desire, love.
You pulled close, whispering a fourth:
                        witchcraft
and bit my shoulder
hard enough to make me wince.
.
Alan Toltzis is a native Philadelphian and the author of 49 Aspects of Human EmotionThe Last Commandment, and Nature Lessons. A two-time Pushcart nominee, he has published in numerous print and online journals including, Grey SparrowThe Wax PaperBlack Bough PoetryEye Flash Poetry, and North of Oxford. Find him online at alantoltzis.com and follow him @ToltzisAlan.
.
The New Normal by Charles Rammelkamp
.
“Miss Ida’s failing,” Brenda told us.
We’d come across each other
on our afternoon walk through the park,
like a stroll through the prison yard,
our break from confinement,
all of us wearing face masks.
We stood ten feet apart,
on either side of the footpath.
“Marcia mentioned it to me the other day,”
Brenda went on, shaking her head sadly.
“At least it’s not the coronavirus.
She’s just running out of energy.
She’s what, ninety-three? Ninety-four?”
.
Miss Ida was the memory of the neighborhood.
She’d lived here most of her life.
She’d seen all the changes.
Her divorced daughter Marcia lived with her.
.
“She looked like she was losing it
at your Christmas party,” my wife remarked.
“We hadn’t seen her
since your last party the year before.”
.
A jogger came loping past then,
a young guy in shorts,
and we all backed off a few more feet.
.
“So you could tell?” Brenda asked
after he’d passed.
“Marcia’s even talking about hospice care.”
.
“I’m afraid we won’t see her
at your next Christmas party,” I lamented.
.
“If I even have one,” Brenda replied, grim.
“If we can have Christmas parties ever again.”
.
 Charles Rammelkamp is the author of The Secretkeepers, two collections of short fiction, A Better Tomorrow and Castleman in the Academy, and four previous collections of poetry, The Book of Life, Fusen Bakudan, Mata Hari: Eye of the Day and American Zeitgeist. Rammelkamp is is currently Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Abby, to whom he’s been married for about a million years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
.
.
The Line By Gloria Parker 
.
Because no one knows where to draw it, it shifts.
Maybe you’re coughing, have a fever or feel fine.
My Florida friend washes door knobs, wears gloves
to the mailbox and orders groceries over the phone.
The handier ones sew masks, pull weeds from their
gardens, make muffins and critique their poems online.
My brother calls to make sure I’m alive. I tell him I’m
weathering at home, watching the news, sleeping a lot.
We look for the right words: Russian Roulette, crapshoot,
a week of Sundays, a drag.
I find old dust masks in the basement, a half-full box
of yellowed latex gloves in the garage
and go to the grocery store at seven with the other
white-haired; half-armed, confused, in danger.
.
.
Virus by Len Krisak 
.
Submitting to the state’s demands
That tie us to the common good,
We keep our distance, wash our hands,
And act exactly as we should.
Lest we give in to plaguey death,
We mimic feckless Pontius Pilate,
Scrubbing up like Lady Macbeth
To keep our threatened lungs inviolate.
All this although we plot no killing,
Especially murder of a king.
Instead, we scour, contritely willing
An unseen microbe’s vanquishing,
Surely work that must be done
If we’re to say the war is won.
.
.
Pandemic By Ed Krizek
.
Today I took myself out
of quarantine.  The sun
was welcoming,
the temperature mild,
sky blue and almost cloudless.
.
We are walking
on charnel ground,
trying to avoid death
by embracing life,
from six feet away,
.
Reality is the present
as the virus multiplies.
I am not afraid of death,
.
just not ready,
.
yet.
.
Maybe tomorrow…
.
.
Three Poems by Mervyn Taylor
.
News of the Living
.
Where’s Leta, that I may greet and
 hug her, her arms, her face white
with flour. She’s been baking all
.
day, to help her son Curt with the
business. Is the shop flourishing,
the autistic grandchild doing well?
.
I can’t think whom else to inquire
after, except Dudley, who long ago
retired into himself, drew the covers
.
up to his chin, as if he knew this day
was coming. Ah, Leta, I know you’re
holding them all above water,
.
while the floodgates of this virus
open all around us. You’ll convert
your house into boat, kitchen into
.
galley, beds into rafts, blowing into
the sails till your air runs out, then
fanning with your apron, fanning.
.
Day of the Virus
.
Behind a wall, small voices. Children
play unseen in an overgrown garden,
paving stones leading to a closed gate.
They remind me that this curfew is
temporary. They’re safe from the madman
who walks into the grocery shouting
the things that are on his list: bread,
Vienna sausage his mother fixed before
she passed. The wall around the garden
is high. Their game is magical, mother-
in-law tongues for swords, lilies for hearts.
They swash and buckle, have tea under
an almond’s broad leaves. Sheltered
from the disease now plaguing the world,
they sip, using adult words, like devastation.
.
Corona Impromptu
.
In Napoli, they are playing a song,
voice and clarinet, notes flying
between buildings, high and low.
.
It started on a fifth floor balcony,
was answered by the sax on a
seventh, corner condo, and then
.
the chorus, hardly masking tears,
rolling the r’s in Rigoletto,
saving their breath for the rush
.
the flourish of the horn coming
from a ground floor apartment
lighting the kit of pigeons
.
landed on a ledge. Silence ruled
for a minute, and then the birds,
startled, took off, the high C
.
of a girl in a bedroom window
passed on to the doorman,
holding his hat like a tray,
.
carefully, as though a vaccine
had been found for the virus,
as the last note faded away.
.
Mervyn Taylor, a longtime Brooklyn resident, was born in Belmont, on the island of Trinidad. He has taught at Bronx Community College, The New School, and in the NYC public school system. He is the author of six books of poetry, including No Back Door (2010), recognized by the Paterson Poetry Prize for literary excellence, and most recently, Voices Carry (2017). Currently, he serves on the advisory board of Slapering Hol Press. A new collection, Country of Warm Snow, is due out in 2020.
.
.
Two Poems by Carl Kaucher
.
Virus
.
I fear the virus is replicating
in syncopation
to the sounds of 5th street highway
but as the nucleus bifurcates
it sounds like a third grader
playing violin atonally.
The vibrating scratch of sounds
echo hauntingly from an attic window
next door
the light of which seeps into
the mist sopped evening air.
.
It’s an infectious sound
contagious like Covid 19
which perhaps originated in a mutation of funk
swarming in a feted puddle in the gutter
saturated with oil and gross gobs of spit,
cigarette butts and funginated gunk.
This made me think of a TV program
where someone made a candle
formed from hairy ear wax
but, I digress.
.
As I was walking by, I thought
maybe if I just stay on the sidewalk,
keep my line of thought pure
within the crosswalk,
that virus wont set it’s lecherous looks
upon me.
See, it’s more the stuff of back alleys,
the venomous viper of vagabond ways
drifting down the rusted railroad tracks
into low and seedy spaces
moping around the outskirts of town.
.
As the puddle was percolating
a robust feverish scum
that fed the stream of mass communication
haunting every cell phone in town.
And, the violin sounded as a dry cough,
a screech of lyrical lung fungus
working the crowd into a frenzy
just shortly before
they raided the liquor store
and marijuana dispensaries
for medicinal purposes only.
.
Let’s hope optimism is still relevant
and we are being open to change.
Let’s hope the wiring doesn’t fray
and the plumbing doesn’t spring a leak.
Let’s hope that telemarketer
doesn’t phone at midnight again
or that the internet
doesn’t lose it’s signal strength.
Too many beautiful chords have been written
only to be misplayed.
Too many lives are being shortened
for us to protest a return to our trivial ways.
.
Echo
.
He was hanging at the corner
lookin all shifty and suspicious
while waitin for the bus.
Wearin a beige bomber jacket,
metallic aviator sunglasses,
his long gray hair tumbling out
of a wide brim leather fedora
and a big cross hangin from his neck.
Fixing a fierce pathogenic glare my way
as I pass, he says; “How ya doin man?”
I says; How are you sir?
“I’m alright, brother.”
.
Alright then, so
I further on a few more paces,
look back
then ask; Your Covid 19, aint ya?
“Naw man, I’m 18”
Oh Yeah?
“Yeah.”
Like, what have you been up to?
What brings you round these parts?
“I’ve just been hangin out,
you know, hangin.”
Hanging, huh?
“Yeah.”
Then I looked down at the ground,
kicked a small stone around,
commenced a few steps more,
looked up again and he was gone.
.
I knew it was 19
that arrogant son of a bitch
but all of a sudden I get hit
with a rock that some little kid threw
whose sister was sitting in a tree
carving ECHO on the trunk
with a big bowie knife
much too mature for her years
as I suddenly get jump started
by a big mad toothed rottweiler
with salivating fangs
thundering wildly towards me
while angrily barking my name,
blood trickling in my eye.
.
Seriously so,
next time I’ll stay at home folks
for strange things certainly are afoot.
.
Carl Kaucher is a poet from Reading, Pennsylvania who transverses boroughs and cities across Pennsylvania.
.
.
Three Poems by M. J. Arcangelini
.
Magic
.
With Ganesh above the entrance
and a mezuzah on the door jamb,
do I have enough magic to ward
an evil virus away from my home?
.
Do I need a crucifix? A pentagram?
What suggestions have you?
Three witches with a cauldron?
Buddhists chanting mantras?
.
Or just latex gloves and N-95s?
And where can I get those?
Tell me, quick!
I feel symptoms coming on.
.
On the Trail
.
Dogs snarl at each other
One barks “Single file!”
The other barks back
“Where’s your mask?”
They strain at the leashes
Of civilized society and
The leashes stretch taut
Ready to snap at any time.
.
This Morning’s Rain
.
Would that today’s slow, steady rain
could wash the virus from the land,
could wash the fear from our hearts,
could erase the spaces between us,
could erase from the newsfeed the
incompetence of those with power,
could cleanse every surface,
could sanitize every hand,
could make it safe to breathe in public,
could bring our friends and family
back to us from death and distance,
could make it safe to obtain food,
could make it safe to greet a stranger,
could wash the fear from our voices,
could wash the virus from our lives,
with a simple slow and steady rain.
.
Two Poems by Eileen R. Tabios
.
Triggered
            —April 2020
.
Mom and Dad taught me a lesson
that would break then make their heart
leak from their eyes to run in rivers
matching their facial wrinkles
if they learned I not only understood it
well but inhaled it to become part of me:
.
hunger.
.
To be immigrant is to be hungry,
as when Dad punished himself to stand
in line for bricks of government cheese
colored in a yellow so bright it must
have been radioactive. But the worst
is when the immigrant becomes full
-bellied only to remain hungry for
something more complicated to attain
in a new country: respect.
.
Years later, I went through their life-
savings to attain a college degree—it
did not protect me: my husband and I
woke to an empty refrigerator one
day before the next day’s paycheck.
We were lucky; we could have used
a credit card we were fortunate to have.
But he was mindful of beginning to
carry credit card debt; he anticipated
that small card was the wrong step
on a very slippery slope that’d already
taken down many of our hungry peers.
.
We got luckier. In the darkest of depths
of the cupboard lurked one more can
of tuna we swiftly opened and salted
and mayoed for dinner: tuna salad!
Visit me any day since and there always
lurk a dozen cans of tuna somewhere
in the house—a last wall of defense
against any attack, unforeseen or not.
To avoid its expiry dates, we donate
them every year to a food bank while
we replenish our valued soldiers stock.
.
Then Covid-19. We were prepared
but hoping the enemy doesn’t vanquish
our warriors stock. May the frontliners
at the grocery stores survive and may
this battle end soon, end soon, end soon …
.
Teepeed by Covid-19
      —after YouTube video “How It’s Made—Toilet Paper”
.
Cancel visiting Rwanda’s
gorillas for too much You
-Tube videos on pulp
.
-ing recycled paper
into descendants of Viking
wool, ancient Roman
.
sponges, and royal French
lace. But let’s not ignore
the true prize: a chance
.
to learn from what suddenly
makes us cringe from leaves
and corncobs—how we abused
.
other species until, slyly,
the animals remind: nature
has always been Darwinian.
.
.
Three Poems by Bryon Beynon
.
Nurses
.
Think of the humanity
behind the mask,
a gift of patience
for the enormous task;
challenges which continue
to descend on the mind’s calling.
The sublime stars light
you homeward,
guiding the engaged heart
from the darkness
at the inner window.
.
The Balcony
.
For months he lived
inside a room
with two single beds,
cane-chair, table, lamp,
shower, and the air-conditioning
generated at night
when he’d stand
on the outer edge
looking at the polished stars,
thinking of other worlds
turning round like faces afraid.
The silence of his balcony,
with no pollution or sub-zero
temperatures made time
more agreeable.
His sense of order
in life was to survive
as he dialled
a long-distance number,
the one kept inside
his head in case of emergency.
.
The Truck Driver
.
The headlamps burn
into the road
frightening the darkness
into prayer.
There is no security
only a vague memory
labelled with the past.
Each mile confirms
your panic.
You wish to travel home
but the night-rider
has taken over
your mind as fuel
burns in an engine
.
.

Three Pandemic Poems. Greg Bem. April 2020

1

covid

continues.

Every blossoming tree

an aphorism.

Every flower

a world.

Dogs walked

Strollers pushed

Gazes averted

Voices muted

A land of inward seeing

endured breathing.

Through the masks that begin                    to shape,

 define,

 each position,

 each presence.

every love and every distance

2

I spend my time in dreams,

dreams of forms.

A neighborhood of wishes.

A wish list contains

wood, brick, concrete.

Garden beds are choruses.

Flash:

HorrorAwe a fantasy word.

The horrorawe of centering.

Sing:

Pull the nodes from temples.

Cease the electric waves.

Open:

A man I presume homeless

pulls it out and starts to piss.

More:   than words

 than sounds

 written into sidewalk weeds and dust

 with weak sprays of urine and frowns

3

Wishes of rolling traffic

Traffic that sees all and none as the same

Why do we see each other now?

And how, as well?

.

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at gregbem.com.

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.

Alone Together by Richard Nester
.
How much does a coronavirus weight?
If one sat on a bee’s whisker, could the bee still fly?
Would the flowers shoo them away
in fear, would they miss them?
Heavy enough, I guess, like poison popcorn balls.
Too many of the sex-crazed devils
crowded in too small a space can bring down a city,
a country. A fleet of lead-lined freezer trucks
can’t haul off our sorrow. We’ve no choice
but to widen our gaps—hearts as big as Wyoming—
or they’ll widen them for us, the narrow bastards.
They don’t wear masks. They don’t read
the Constitution.  Bits of what we once were,
starving for more, with their trauma-circus clusters
of stars. A grain of wheat is the size of a pyramid
to them. Imagine Egypt without cats.
I hear them gnaw my sleep.
.
Richard Nester has twice been a fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He has published essays on social justice topics in The Catholic Agitator, a publication of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and poetry in numerous magazines, including PloughsharesSeneca Review, and Callaloo and on-line in The Cortland ReviewQarrtsiluni and Inlandia. He has three collections of poetry published by Kelsay Books, Buffalo LaughterGunpowder Summers, and Penguin Love. His reviews of poetry have appeared in North of Oxford.
.
.
Three Poems by John D. Robinson
.
Italy: Covid-19: Story
.
He walked into the supermarket
and filled the hand-basket with
food and then queued, keeping
to the social-distancing
guidance:
at the checkout he explained
that he had no money to pay
for the food but he and his
family needed the food: he
was not threatening or
aggressive in any way, pitiful,
humble, even pathetic:
security was called and he
was escorted out of the store
empty handed:
what the fuck would you
have done?
this is a tough one
but I’m fucking soft so
possibly would have said
to the guy look, come back
in 3 hours and I’ll try
and have something
for you and then maybe
asked for donations from
colleagues and customers:
could you have gone home
taking the face of this
man with you?
.
Only When
.
Only when it’s taken away that
you realize the beauty, the wonder
of freedom,
to walk freely,
without fear
amongst brothers and sisters,
it’s only when it is no
longer there, the love, compassion,
the humanity,
the common sense
of intelligence,
it’s only when you find these
things taken for granted
taken away, that you begin
to know what a fucking
hellish time we can create
for one another:
there’s not much else to care
for in this brief life
except for love and it’s
continuation.
.
Thank Fuck
.
The entire globe in lock-down:
supermarket shelves empty of
bathroom/toilet goods, the
panic of not being able to
wipe your ass with tissue
paper, of hand cleansing
cream: shelves empty of
dried foods: pasta and
rice: tins of produce
growing thinner,
vegetable and fruit
becoming scarce but
along with clothing and
electrical goods, the
shelves of wine were
well stocked and thank-
fuck for that small
mercy of comfort
at the moment.
.
John D. Robinson is a poet from the U.K. You can find his most recent collection, “A Hash Smoking, Codeine Swallowing, Wine Drinking Son of a Bitch” here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1073081400?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
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.
pandemic
.
.
.

Two Poems by Aura Christi (from The God’s Orbit) translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Petru Iamandi

quad
.
Spell
.
Whose suffering
has built its nest in me
and doesn’t want to leave
or stay?
.
What deity screams
their grief through my body,
terrible beauty,
feverish quadriga?
.
What rumble swirls,
roars, grows, struggles
like a bird caught
between life and death?
.
Elegy
.
The summer fades away like in a dream, everywhere.
You feel something in your eyes has faded.
You look at yourself in the mirror and listen to your humming:
I no longer am, I, I no longer am.
Everything’s strange, lost and distant.
No one’s around, yet something trembles;
something unseen seems to float like a wing,
brushing softly against you.
No one’s around, you keep saying, no one at all.
But then why is the air filling
with something impossible and heavy?
The darkness grows bewilderingly;
soon it will fall over everywhere;
it’s made its nest in the hands, icons,
hourglass and eyes.
.
Between you and the sky there’s one syllable
of a forgotten verb from a dead language.
Not a big deal. Just wait. It’s night.
Your room fills with something obscure
that reminds you of the one you used to be
in another life, maybe; everything’s strange, left
on the surface of the being, distant, so very far.
The days get shorter, as they’re supposed to.
The seconds get longer, night’s perfume is strong
and the being – reduced to heart, eyes, breaths.
Whose face is gathering itself, suddenly to show itself?
.
aura-christi-emisiunea-suferinta-si-destin-620x330
Aura Christi has published 15 volumes of poetry and 6 novels. Born in 1967 in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, she now lives in Romania. The poems here derive from her 2016 collection, The God’s Orbit. Her poems appeared in the 2003 anthology of poems of poets from Moldova (the former Soviet Bessarabia), Singular Destinies, and more recently, in the journal Poem [in the U.K.] and Osiris, Cider Press Review and Apple Valley Review.
.
Petru-Iamandi-672x372
Petru Iamandi teaches in Galați, Romania, at the Dunărea de Jos University [Lower Danube University]. A prolific translator, with over 100 books between Romanian/English, Iamandi translated Mihail Gălățanu’s The Starry Womb with Sorkin (Diálogos, 2014).
.
sorkin2014_web
Adam J. Sorkin has won numerous awards including the Poetry Society (U.K.), Ioan Flora, and Poesis prizes. He most recently published Mircea Dinescu’s The Barbarians’ Return, translated with Lidia Vianu (Bloodaxe, 2018), his 60th book of translation. He is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, Penn State Brandywine.

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Tricks of Light – New and Selected Poems by Thaddeus Rutkowski

tricks

By g emil reutter

Thaddeus Rutkowski is a man of small town America and a man of urban America. His poetry is written from the lens of his unique experience in both places at a time in the nation when small town and urban are in constant conflict. Yet, Rutkowski is not in conflict as he equally embraces both in his poetry in honest, forthright and at times humorous verse. He is an observer of life and these poems are the embodiment of what he has witnessed and thus an immediate connection with the reader and we are better for it.
.
He tells us in the poem, One-Tenth:
.
A Chinese philosopher said:
“Live to an old age.
There remains three-tenths that cannot be known”
.
I am on my way to old age, I am still studying,
And I don’t know one-tenth of what can be known.
.
I inch ahead, adding, bit by bit, to what I know.
But as I add, other things slip away.
I hope I add more that I lose.
.
Who knows? Maybe the sand in the hourglass
is running out faster than I’m replenishing it.
There isn’t much I can do about that,
except to turn the hourglass over.
.
He writes of riding his bicycle in Manhattan and of people yelling for him to move out of the way of their cars, tells of us his daughter’s marathon run, of his wife and him dumpster diving for candles from a corner shop. He turns to the rural in the poem, Farmers and Dove, of the harvest of corn by the farmer, husking as they travel in a small pickup and of the Dove on the wires above, cooing, For those of us who know what’s missing, the sounds of the bird remind us of what’s lost. And again in the poem, Claw Marks:
.
The trunk of this beech tree
is scored with dents just far enough apart
.
to indicate fingernails, or an animal’s nails,
or the claws of a bear, hungry for beechnuts.
.
The small, oily nuts, covered in burrs,
will help sustain a bear through winter.
.
The nuts are high up in the tree,
but a bear is a good climber,
.
with claws that can pierce the bark
on a smooth, iron –like trunk.
.
The bear is long gone. It’s winter now,
too cold for bears and other hibernators.
.
The bear’s marks remain in the bark,
at just the right distance to mark its reach.
.
Rutkowski the observer is clearly evident in the details in this poem, description of the iron-like trunk, oily nuts covered in burrs, the trunk scored with dents just far enough apart. Although the bear is gone, the reader can still see the bear in the tree.
.
He returns to the urban in the poem Noise to my Ears. Of the street musicians who populate subway concourses, of how he admires their talent, that they make him happy and of the posers who randomly blow in horns or beat on drums until he feels trapped in the unpleasant. In the poem, Hit Again, Rutkowski writes of his adventures riding a bike in Manhattan and the indifference of a cab driver who he has encountered:
.
I drift to the left to avoid a biker
coming the wrong way, toward me,
and a car hits me with its side door.
It’s a yellow cab that was speeding past
as I drifted toward it.
.
I hear and feel the impact against my arm,
And I think, “”Not again”
It is the second time
I’ve been hit in a couple of weeks;
the first was on my other arm.
But I can use the arm that was hit now.
I can lift and move it. I feel nothing
beyond a dull pain in the elbow.
.
I see the cab has stopped.
Maybe the driver heard the impact, too,
and wants to see if I am all right,
or maybe he has stopped for a traffic light.
.
Tricks of Light is an eclectic collection of poems about family, about life in the city and life in small towns. It is a collection of poems about the forgotten, the found, of birds and fisherman, of loss and aging and of nature.
.
Yellow-Green Hills of Pennsylvania
.
The mountains—the hills really—
are yellow-green, in transition
from bare trees to leafed trees.
I don’t know how long this color will last.
If I were fishing now,
I could walk to the water and cast my line
without getting it tangled in leaves.
If I want to see something distant, a house, say,
I can see it through the trees.
These yellow-green constellations
are only buds, and when the sun hits,
the whole mountain lights up.
That is, assuming the mountain—a hill, really—
is not covered in fog.
.
You can find the book here: Tricks of Light — great weather for MEDIA
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g emil reutter can be found here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku – Selected Tercets 1996-2019 by Eileen R. Tabios

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By Lynette G. Esposito
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Marsh Hawk Press has released The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku  Selected Tercets 1996-2019 a comprehensive tome of poetry by Eileen R. Tabios  The collection is a blend of long, skinny poems with amazing forms, concepts and images in 233 pages.
The comments on Tabios’ work are many. One that catches the unique quality of this collection is from kultureflash. In kultureflash:  Headlines from London: —enormous tonal range in her poetry. A breathless intensity may be her most characteristic mode. While tonal is a subjective reaction by the reader to poetic work, this comment works.
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For example, on page eighty-nine:
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                                              Girl Singing
                                              39
                                             Girl singing day when “I”
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                                             is a Verb, the leaf beyond
                                             my bedroom window becomes
                                             a universe of contemplation
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                                            rather than a mere fragment
 .                                           at the mercy of a faint breeze.
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The switch from an intellectual comment to the power of nature symbolically represented by a leaf and a breeze shows tremendous poetic skill. The revelation beyond one’s constrained space combined with the change of a pronoun into an action (verb) is an amazing transition into contemplating the universe and the self within it. The tone is both calm and direct.
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This same technique of mixing conceptual suggestions with interpretive imagery can be seen on page 138 in the poem La Loca.
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                                      In the green
                                      morning I
                                      wanted
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                                      to be a
                                      heart. A
                                      heart.
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                                     And at evening’s
                                     end, I
                                    wanted
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                                     to be my
                                     voice
                                     a nightingale.
                                             — LO(R)CA
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The ninety-two stanza poem creates, both in form and image, a sense of self in relationship to time and place. Each stanza is in three lines (tercet) and extends over nine pages. Although long, the poem is well controlled and a pleasure to read.
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Another poem that demonstrates Tabios’ unique poetic abilities is The Ineffability of Mushrooms (A Novella in Verse) on page 192 to196, which tells a storywith the time being prior to war. Tabios uses numbers in groupings of tercets to indicate chapters.
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                                           1
                                          The porcini appeared
                                          under right
                                          conditions:
                                          after heavy rain
                                          soaked warn
                                         earth–
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                                          this desired combination
                                         lovingly labeled
                                         “smoke.”
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The first three stanzas represent the first of five numbered chapters using the tercet stanza form  and intermingling conceptual images with reader interpretations. The poem snakes down  the page setting up time, place and situation. A symbol enjoying delicious mushrooms ends with a shock. The shock uses the timing of receiving a bag of mushrooms for the last time and the out break of war. The association with a gift and the outbreak of conflict is interesting. Tabios is very skilled.
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                                   …Later in
                                        London, I
                                        received
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                                        each Autumn one
                                        precious, single
                                        bag
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                                        of dried mushrooms
                                        and memories
                                        then
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                                        lingering like smoke.
                                        The last
                                        arrived
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                                         In 1939, shortly
                                        after the
                                        outbreak
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                                        of war
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This poem successfully leads to London and the big changes coming to that city in 1939.
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The book is well organized and the subjects are broad but spring from specific symbols that work both logically and figuratively. Poems vary from three lines to many pages. There is good variety, a little instruction and much to be discussed in this prism of poems that shares so much light
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.

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Poetry Videos to Get You Through the Weekend

We searched YouTube for some of the poets we have published and our staff over the years to provide you with some live readings to enjoy during these turbulent times. We hope you enjoy!

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