stephen page

The Body Dialogues by Miriam O’Neal

body-dialogues-oneal

Major Tom Looks at Earth from Space

By Stephen Page

A friend of mine had a male neighbor that lived next door to him who had a son in junior high who during last year’s Halloween dressed as a girl. Another friend of mine told me that every time he came home from work, he found his 4-year-old son wearing his mother’s high heels. I told each of my friends the same thing that “This is a normal thing. Your son is just trying on a different persona.  Besides. Is it politically correct to try to change him or his behavior to fit your idea about who he should be?”

The narrator in Miriam O’Neal’s The Body Dialogues is having dialogues with herself, trying to find a mental voice that feels comfortable with her body. These conversations become poems.  Mx. O’Neal separates the book into three sections in her search for her narrator’s voice.

In section 1, the metaphorical and literal “Birth” represent that painful realization that the baby has when she realizes she is outside the comfort of the womb and inside the outer world. From that moment on, like the baby, it seems the narrator does not feel at ease with her body or her surroundings. Anxiety becomes the theme of the following poems until finally, near the end of the first section, in “Breathe,” the narrator decides she has to accept who she is, and that the only way to do this is to relax.

In the 2nd section of the book, the narrator travels to foreign lands in order to adventure outside the microcosm of her current existence, hoping that this will free herself emotionally.  She wants to be less judgmental of herself and accept her body for what it is, a part of herself.

In the 3rd and final section of the book, the narrator is at home again remembering her travels and how she found a different perspective of her body by looking at it from foreign locations. One poem depicts the International Space Station flying overhead and the narrator imagines projecting her being inside one of the astronauts, looking out a window at earth, all the while singing the song “Major Tom.” She begins reading voraciously, ferociously searching for other poets who have searched for and found comfort with their bodies as they are. In this manner, literature becomes one of her guides on her journey.

As a final note, there are not only references to the narrator’s mind observing her body, she is continually comparing herself to people around and trying to decide if she is beautiful or not beautiful.  Additionally, there are dialogues that infer gender identification and sexual preference. All of these poems become epiphanies. The narrator is understanding that for many people, mind-body oneness, beauty, and gender behavior are societally taught, not internally programmed. The ways in which we come to terms with ourselves and balance our emotions evolves through living life. Moreover, the ways in which see ourselves physically in comparison to others in the world around us are our subjectively our own interpretations.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Dialogues-Miriam-ONeal/dp/1733768351

Stephen Page is part Apache and part Shawnee. He was born in Detroit. He is the author of four books of poetry, several stories, essays, and literary criticisms. He holds degrees from Columbia University and Bennington College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, a First Place Prize in Poetry from Bravura Magazine, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant.

North of Oxford – Spring 2021 Pandemic Issue #7

Dreamscape.
.
Dreamscape by Maria Keane   http://www.mariakeane.com/
.
Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #7 from North of Oxford and Maria Keane for graciously providing her art. In order of appearance we present: Ray Greenblatt, Robbi Nester, Tim Suermondt, Charlie Brice, Wayne-Daniel Berard, Eileen R. Tabios, Stephen Page, Joan Mazza, Faith Paulsen, Marion Deutsche Cohen, Maria Keane, Wesley Scott McMasters, Megha Sood, Judy DeCroce, J. H. Johns, Charles Rammelkamp, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Linda Nemec Foster, Stephen Mead, James Walton, Antoni Ooto, Ethel Gofen, Michael A. Griffith, Ken Soyow and Bartholomew Barker.
.
Ray Greenblatt
.
2020 Summer
The boardwalk stretches away
straight and empty as if
          a landing strip waiting for the first plane.
Mr. Peanut exits his shop
squinches in his monocle
twirls his cane and peers
          around in disbelief.
And yet the tantalizers
of caramel corn
and pizza slices
          float on the air uselessly.
In the casino
the roulette wheel still spins,
          fanned cards lie on the green felt.
While on the wide deserted beach
the gulls seem to hoot and hoot
          derisively.
.
This is the dream of a million minds
thinking now in terms of six paces
thinking that their words are muffled
          with winding cloth.
.
Covid Days of the Week
.
minute a bug bite
an hour a mud ball
          in the eye,
but a day
. . . wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday . . .
we lug like a tombstone
tall    dense    mossy
gray    grainy    granite
obit etched,
until the end of the week
to add to the foundation
upon which we build
          a wall of months
so high and gray
it obscures the sky
.
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. Ray Greenblatt has two books out for 2020: UNTIL THE FIRST LIGHT (Parnilis Media) and MAN IN A CROW SUIT (BookArts Press).
.
Robbi Nester
.
Tu B’Shvat During the Pandemic, March 2021
.
I have been watching out this window, waiting for
everything to change, if only for a moment,
a day, a week. Now, outside my window, three slender
trees, young girls swaying on the sunny path, have
begun to bloom, buds bursting in the spring’s first warm
sunlight. The trees take on soft edges, branches raising
garlands to the sky. Soon, next month maybe,
blizzards of white petals will fall to the grass, and trees
unfurl their leaves. Let the bees enter the vaulted
chapel of each blossom, drink from each raised chalice,
bless us with the sweetness of continued life.
.
Robbi Nester, like so many, is just beginning to emerge from sheltering in place and finding it more challenging than she imagined. She is author of 4 books of poetry, who used much of this year to write and host readings, as well as editing an anthology, The Plague Papers.
.
Tim Suermondt
.
  The City is Returning
                      Easter, 2021
.
But the city is returning
only because more and more
people are—not in a torrent yet,
some streets still looking a bit
lonely, but the signs are there,
like the bridges across the river
that were shrouded in a Covid fog,
the bridges coming to life
in a flow of sun and gulls and human
traffic. I want to wave to and embrace
everyone, but I keep myself dignified
as best I can—there’s much living
to be done for those who made it,
over sorrow and resilience, to this day.
.
Tim Suermondt’s sixth full-length book of poems “A Doughnut And The Great Beauty Of The World” will be forthcoming from MadHat Press in 2021. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, 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.
.
Charlie Brice
.
Mugsi Doesn’t Wear a Mask
.
But I do because of the pandemic.
      Mugsi doesn’t because she’s a dog,
a black standard poodle that
      we don’t cut up to look like the freaks
owned by rich ladies in Manhattan.
.
On our walk we come across masked strangers
            who always appear menacing,
but who invariably wave because
            they are my neighbors and
we all like one another.
.
They remove their masks and I recognize them—
            a sheen of familiarity that brings relief.
It’s always good to see what’s behind a mask,
            even if the mask is an illusion of civility,
something that covers brutality and barbarism,
            even if what is unmasked is the bare bottom
of our culture, the butt end of racism,
            the guttural groan of fascism.
.
Mugsi wiggles her tushie while she walks,
            smells everything available,
is very intense, but always has time
            to wag her tail if we meet
a crossing guard who might
            have a treat for her.
.
Mugsi never holds a grudge even
            when it rains or snows too hard
for me to give her a walk.
            She always forgives me.
She loves to sit in my chair
            when I’m not in it,
and she knows exactly where she
            wants a scratch.
.
Charlie Brice is the winner of the 2020 Field Guide Magazine Poetry Contest and was awarded third place in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His fourth poetry collection is The Broad Grin of Eternity (WordTech 2021). His poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Chiron Review, Pangolin Review, The Sunlight Press, Sparks of Calliope, and elsewhere.
.
Wayne-Daniel Berard
.
Mars
.
The unhypocritical
virus says “aren’t
I lovely? Velourishly
spherical don’t you
adore my red fleurettes?
Don’t I deserve to live
just as much as you?
Person, it’s nothing
personal I can’t just
change lifestyle eat
plants eschew carbon
(not that you would)
you are my incubator
and the purpose of
viral sex is procreation
if the mother dies
you know how that is
impregnating your paradigm
because you can’t give it
up even if it kills you allow
me I learned from the best
worst case we sleep our
smallness in your big sleep
and catch the next meteor
to the next world wasn’t
that your backup plan too?
See you on Mars, mamma.”
.
Wayne-Daniel Berard, PhD, is an educator, poet, writer, shaman, and sage. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His poetry chapbook, The Man Who Remembered Heaven, received the New Eden Award in 2003. His non-fiction When Christians Were Jews (That Is, Now), subtitled Recovering the Lost Jewishness of Christianity with the Gospel of Mark, was published in 2006 by Cowley Publications. A novel The Retreatants, was published in 2012 (Smashwords). A chapbook, Christine Day, Love Poems, was published in 2016 (Kittatuck Press). His novella, Everything We Want, was published in 2018 by Bloodstone Press. A poetry collection, The Realm of Blessing, was published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press. Noa(h) and the Bark, was published in 2020 by Alien Buddha Press. Wayne-Daniel lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, the Lovely Christine.
.
Eileen R. Tabios
.
The Covid-19 Hay(na)ku
.
There are other
ways of
dying—
.
But when it
occurs, we
wonder
.
even when we
sometimes must
forbid
.
ourselves from asking
such insensitive
questions
.
The Lockdown Tanka
.
But the near-strangled
planet shook off its blanket
of smog—the canals
reveal frolicking fish—we
see scales and eyes as sapphires
.
Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. In Spring 2021, she released her first novel, DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times (AC Books, New York). Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form, and the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity. More information is at Eileen R. Tabios
.
Stephen Page
.
A Virtual Constitutionalist Convention
.
A honey bee hovers around yellow flowers
Growing out of Teresa’s vertical garden.
.
In the rectangular cement planter that divides
My office and the living-room patio decks
.
Newly planted lavender stands tall
Vibrating gently in the breeze
.
Between red daylilies
And clusters of blue columbine.
.
Last night I watched a virtual convention
Where people talked disdainfully about Dictator Reginald.
.
They spoke about his autocratic, manipulative, bullying tactics,
His lies, his divisiveness, his homophobia, his racism.
.
Of course, the DR trilled epitaphs and threats at them
And is still trying to dismantle the United Colonies Postal Service.
.
The mandarin-haired DR sits in is square office watching TV
While the plague outside attacks his voters.
.
The Orchids
.
My wife is preparing French toast,
While I sip coffee in front of the sea
.
That for the last five years
Reached farther inland every high tide.
.
A sparrow lands on the patio deck,
Hops over closer and tilt his head while studying me.
.
On the coffee table behind me,
The orchids which have for four years
.
Had only been wire-supported stems
This morning blossomed with purple-streaked petals.
.
Last night, on the international T.V. news channel,
Non-mask wearing Nationalists sat side-by-side in droves
.
To gaze up at the non-mask wearing Dictator Reginald
Screaming “A phantom virus! Climate change is fictional!”
.
“Make our colonies great again!” he bellows,
While wild fires rage on the split screen.
.
Life with and Without Father
.
I love opening an old book
And am struck with sunlight
While standing in an attic
On a wood floor,
The air swirling with flecks of dust.
.
I am driving Father’s white pickup
On a state highway
No traffic
                        The open road
                                                            Trees lining the ditches.
.
I am at a baseball park
                        Lying on the outfield grass
                                                The afternoon sunlight bathing me.
.
My father died
Of a heart attack
While seated in a hospital admissions
Room, while ambulances were lined up
For blocks outside the hospital.
.
Today Tyrant Reginald said, “I have learned
A lot about COVID-19,
The old-school way.”
.
Our Own Demigod
.
And all this time I thought
That Tyrant Reginald was just
A dictator, but it turns out
He is a God, immune to the virus.
.
Yesterday, he sucked all the air around him
And raspingly declared, “You have nothing to fear,
Unless you are already dead! Go back
To work, go back to school, go
Eat inside restaurants, don’t
Wear masks!” His bleary eyes
Stabbing into the camera lens.
.
Then he turned around,
Grabbed a golf bag,
And bordered Sea Soldier 1.
.
Stephen Page is part Apache and part Shawnee. He was born in Detroit. He is the author of four books of poetry, several stories, essays, and literary criticisms. He holds degrees from Columbia University and Bennington College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, a First Place Prize in Poetry from Bravura Magazine, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. https://smpages.wordpress.com/
.
Joan Mazza
.
Ode to Variants
.
You who insinuate yourself into every
living thing, you who invade and commandeer
the cell’s machinery to reproduce yourself
by the billions, with only a simple nucleic acid
in an envelope of lipids and protein,
.
let us praise your innovations. Proficient
at disguise, you are a survivor, evader
of antibodies, antivirals, phagocytes,
and cytokine storms. Ever mutating, you
sidestep human high tech assaults like
.
black belts in karate. Though invisible,
your morphing army marches forward,
adjusts to human precautions of masks
and distance, ever more contagious, more
virulent, resistant. O, mighty miniscule
.
life form, you never surrender. Ignorant
and mindless, without intention or will,
you keep us locked up, ever on standby.
You live by the command, Adapt or die.
.
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her work has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia where she writes a daily poem. www.JoanMazza.com
.
Faith Paulsen
.
Another Poem About Light
.
I
Homesteaders now, before going out,
we strap on our paper masks. Beyond our walls,
just steps away, the wind’s ashes toll like a bell:
The faraway dome is breached.
Rushing home, we slam the door
shed our shoes, their mouths open.
.
We are hungry—
We have nothing to eat or breathe that isn’t
tainted. We begin to think that the bad spots
are cherries. In cupped hands we hold
our losses.
.
II
One house has plenty of eggs. The other has all
the apples they need. You buy half the beans
in the market. We tell each other we can
make something out of this. Just then
a girl in a red satin headband recites a poem about light
and in spite of jinx and dread, we begin.
.
String teardrop bulbs from the streetlights,
dangle from windows our brave-enough flags.
Night comes,
a snow lantern, lit from inside.
.
III
Let us wake up now and eat rice with orange peel.
Let us spread our
bread with honey.
We will not live through. We will live
during.
.
We will sing a capella the chorus of light
not at the end —
but in —
the tunnel.
.
Faith Paulsen’s work has appeared in many venues including One Art, Ghost City Press, Seaborne, and Book of Matches, as well as Thimble Literary Magazine, Evansville Review, Mantis, Psaltery and Lyre, and Terra Preta. Her work also appears in the anthologies such as 50/50: Poems & Translations by Womxn over 50 (QuillsEdge). She has been nominated for a Pushcart. Her chapbook A Color Called Harvest (Finishing Line Press) was published in 2016. A second chapbook, Cyanometer, is expected in 2021. For more information, please check the website at https://www.faithpaulsenpoet.com/
.
Marion Deutsche Cohen
.
The Abandoned Muscles
      The Excel Physical Therapy mailing tells us that achiness is common during
      quarantining.
.
I do my exercises every morning.
Make sure to do a few extra wriggles in extra directions.
I walk 4,000 steps a day, 500 at a time all throughout.
I play my piano, Beethoven’s late sonatas, arms all over the place, am even beginning to
    trill with my left hand.
I move my writing muscle, Zoom muscies, cimbing stairs muscles, dancing muscles.
   sex muscles.
But there must be muscles I’m forgetting.
.
Outdoor muscles, Reading Terminal Market Muscles, grocery cart muscles, thrift-
    shopping muscles.
Muscles that are protesting
giving me gentle reminders
appearing in dreams
trying to move the way they’d move in reality
and therefore moving too much.
Clenching too much.
Cramping too much.
Aching too much.
.
Angry muscles, muscles turned mean.
Obsolete muscles that won’t go away.
.
Physical
.
Am I only imagining that I’m finally feeling my age?
Sinus crap, jaw pain, clenched back, the possible recurrence of trigeminal neuralgia?
And now I can hear my heart beating.
It sounds like water dripping from my childhood drainpipes.
Sometimes it wakes me up.
Or maybe it’s only the nightmares.
Different nightmares from before.
That people refuse to stay six feet away.
They come at me, hands dripping with droplets.
In one dream there was an orgy of them.
Or it’s past the equinox but the days are getting shorter rather than longer.
Every late-afternoon the darkness begins sooner than the late-afternoon before.
And my husband tells me his nightmare.
The door to our house was put on backward
locked from the outside so anybody could get in
and he needed the key to get out.
The locksmith arrived right away but then took away the entire door
said he couldn’t get back ‘til next week.
All week long outside kept seeping in.
Inside was disappearing.
There was no such thing as inside.
.
Marion Deutsche Cohen is the author of 32 collections of poetry or memoir; her newest poetry collection is “Stress Positions” (Alien Buddha Press), and her latest prose collection is “Not Erma Bombeck: Diary of a Feminist 70s Mother” (Alien Buddha Press). She is also the author of a book of #MeToo poems, two controversial memoirs about spousal chronic illness, a trilogy diary of late-pregnancy loss, and “Crossing the Equal Sign”, about the experience of mathematics. She teaches a course she developed, Mathematics in Literature, at Drexel University’s Honors College. Her website is  http://www.marioncohen.net
.
Lantern by Night

Latern by Night  by Maria Keane   http://www.mariakeane.com/.

Maria Keane
.
A Reckoning
.
I beg
to hear the river rushing
an incessant rocking
down a deep corridor
where darkness—
its there
I am tied to it.
.
Not even wings can free me
from the black
for a reason we suppose—
is for the good.
.
Night blooming trees
feed a need to breathe.
Their perfume
saturates the senses
splinters a fracture
to eliminate hysteria.
.
Walking through a web
 I break, unraveling
the first silence
under the sole edict
of sound.
I see it now
and quench some dark history
in the presence of anxiety.
.
I will walk in shadow,
hold on to murmers,
listening for you to arrive,
You reduce the havoc of the trees
repair my will
to believe
all things are only in the moment.
.
Wesley Scott McMasters
.
A Haiku for a Pandemic
.
It is so quiet;
or have I grown tired
of the same voices?
.
Wesley Scott McMasters teaches and lives just within sight of the Great Smoky Mountains with his dog, Poet (who came with the name, he swears).
.
Megha Sood
.
Unclaimed Freedom
.
The cerulean tinge peeking through the barbed wires
a gaping hole, like an open, stretched out calloused palms
seeking empathy in hunger, in pain
color tinged rays making their way
 through the mishmash of thick wires
.
I squint my eyes to even the shades
 Even then I can see the mesh obstructing  my vision
there is too much restriction these days
the invisible virus boisterously ruling our lives
Holding lien to our breaths
making us beg for the next one, a novel privilege
.
I want to rip apart this entrapment
Pry it open the obstructed view of the open skies
Let the fraying ends come loose
Shifting wings like a soaring eagle
in the vast cerulean skies
laced with mellifluous melody,
I want to taste freedom through my squinty eyes
.
I know this calling,
I can feel the warmth in my bones
the sorrow draining from every iota of my existence
I take the clamps, cut the wires
one joint at a time
slowly but surely
.
Making way for my petite body
to pass through the thin gaps
of this corrugated mesh
and claim the freedom
which is truly mine.
.
Megha Sood is a Poet, Editor, and Blogger based in New Jersey, USA. She is a Poetry Editor at MookyChick(UK), Life and Legends (USA), and Literary Partner in the project “Life in Quarantine” with Stanford University, USA. Works widely featured in journals, Poetry Society of New York, Kissing Dynamite, and many more. Author of Chapbook ( “My Body is Not an Apology”, Finishing Line Press, 2021) and Full Length (“My Body Lives Like a Threat”, FlowerSongPress,2021).National Level Winner Spring Mahogany Lit Prize and Three-Time State-level winner of NJ Poetry Contest.Blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/ .Tweets at @meghasood16
.
Judy DeCroce
.
A Repeat of the New
.
“It’s happening again, because it’s new to them.”
—Antoni Ooto
.
A reply
natural in the hum
.
beginning with the concrete
and then a buzz annoying
.
a mystery in context
for such a transparent idea.
.
Strangeness is marching
through a metaphor none saw coming.
.
Is it danger or a riddle?
(hard to know)
.
The moment shakes us in
and we grab its edges.
.
Along the way
ideas stand and rearrange.
.
It’s happening again…
because it’s new to us.
.
Judy DeCroce, is an internationally published poet, flash fiction writer, educator, and avid reader whose recent works have been published by The BeZine, Brown Bag Online, North of Oxford, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Wild Word, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, and many journals and anthologies.
.
J. H. Johns 
.
“There was a Time Before the Time” 
.
                                                           There was a time
                                                            before the time
                                                            when things changed;
.
                                                            slowly-
                                                            then instantly-
                                                            we went
                                                            from
                                                            the momentary past
                                                            being an instant away
                                                            to that same past
                                                            which became
                                                            a historical memory;
.
                                                            so quickly;
                                                            so instantly;
.
                                                            what used to be
                                                            our present
                                                            dissolved
                                                            in a viral concoction
.
                                                            that was out to kill.
                                                            There was a time before the time.
.
            J. H. Johns “grew up and came of age” while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia.  Specifically, the two places “responsible” for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia.
.
Charles Rammelkamp
.
Coronavirus Cooties
.
“Daddy, Ian said I had cooties,”
Stephanie pouted to her father
about a kid in her first-grade class.
.
Amused and gratified to hear
the term still in use,
generations later,
her father asked,
“What are cooties?”
.
“They make you fat,”
Stephanie answered without hesitation,
disgusted by the fact,
body-type issues infecting
even elementary school children.
.
Originally World War One soldier slang
for body lice in the trenches,
cooties had mutated over the years,
just like any other virus.
.
In her dad’s day, girls gave boys cooties,
boys gave them back to girls,
like an unacknowledged venereal disease,
polio in the 1950’s,
AIDS in the 1980’s.
What next, in 2020?
.
The Bald Guy with Long Hair
.
I was in the Documentation Department
at Infodyne, in the late 1980’s,
working on operations manuals.
.
“Go talk to Woody,”
my supervisor advised when I went to him
with a question about COBOL coding.
.
“The guy who works with the mainframes,”
Paul clarified when I confessed
I wasn’t sure who Woody was.
.
“He’s always in here talking to Joyce,”
he went on, as if I knew
the people my colleagues consulted.
.
“The bald guy with long hair,”
Paul finally explained, a poker player
producing the ace up his sleeve.
.
“Oh!” I exclaimed.
Now I knew exactly who he was talking about,
the skinny guy with the shiny pate
and hair down to his shoulders,
a Fu Manchu mustache.
.
Why do I remember this now?
It’s been four months
since my last haircut,
wary about going into a barbershop
in this age of COVID.
.
That could describe me:
the bald guy with long hair
(not to mention eyebrows like caterpillars).
.
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.

Conversations

Conversations by Maria Keane   http://www.mariakeane.com/

.
Thaddeus Rutkowski
.
Cold Day Outside
.
I see my homeless friend
sitting on a step and smoking a cigarette
on an unpleasant day.
The air is filled with water, and it bites.
“Where’s your mask, man?” I ask.
“I’ve got a mask,” he says. “But I’m outside.”
He’s right. “The virus doesn’t travel well through air,” I say.
Then I ask, “How long have you been here?”
And he doesn’t answer.
He looks like I caught him doing something he shouldn’t.
“How many hours?” I ask.
“Five,” he says.
Indeed, he should not been sitting outside,
in the cold and rain, for five hours.
It is not natural.
I give him a bill, and he says, “Bless you.”
But I’m not the one who needs blessing.
.
Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of seven books, most recently Tricks of Light, a poetry collection. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
.
Linda Nemec Foster
.
Pandemic Litany: The White Chair of Absence
.
If death has a color
it would be white, the color
that reflects and scatters
all visible light:
this chair, this chair
becomes my mantra–
.
white chair of solitude
white chair of isolation
white chair of the absent father
white chair of the abusive mother
white chair of the forgotten–(say it)
white chair of the forgotten–(say it)
white chair of the forgotten child
white chair of the silence that comes before
white chair of the cry that comes after
white chair of solitary confinement
white chair of the hole in the gut
white chair of the bone-white fist
white chair of the shroud
white chair of the wedding veil
white chair of the dark secret
white chair of the white lie
white chair of the what now (what now)
white chair that doesn’t leave
white chair that doesn’t arrive
white chair of the recurring dream
white chair of the yes
white chair of the no
white chair of the maybe
white chair of my birth
white chair of my–(say it)
white chair of my–(say it)
white chair of my death
.
and the wind in the long grass
above my white bones
above my white bones
is the only voice I have
.
Linda Nemec Foster has published eleven collections of poetry including Amber Necklace from Gdansk, Talking Diamonds, and The Lake Michigan Mermaid (2019 Michigan Notable Book). Her work appears in numerous journals: The Georgia Review, Nimrod, New American Writing, North American Review, and Verse Daily. She’s received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and awards from Arts Foundation of Michigan, National Writer’s Voice, Dyer-Ives Foundation, The Poetry Center (NJ), and Academy of American Poets. Her new book, The Blue Divide, is forthcoming from New Issues Press (2021). The first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Foster is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College.
.
Stephen Mead
.
                     Blue Mask Seas
                                                                                   (for my Friend, Tom Stephany, taken by                                                                                                                    Covid on World AIDS Day 2020)
.
They are so easy to picture:
that ridge for the nose a wave’s curve
& the surrounding white outline being froth’s tips
creased pleat upon pleat…
Even the hue is a Madonna’s robe gentleness sky-expansive
though these horizons are grayer, often opaque,
a chloroform of loss stopping things up.
Face without a body, not modeled in the round
is how one dictionary describes that eye-less paper relief
there on the parking lot paving, blowing now across the sidewalk
& into the weeds lining the pharmacy’s brick exterior,
its chained-up trash can overflowing with refuse,
all the six-pack plastic for a tortoise’s intestines.
This stray one didn’t make it to that heap anyhow, whether a careless
sort of pocket-escapee or dropped on purpose as a take that
Mother Nature. Caring is sharing.  May others be touched
as you have touched me.
Come, don’t be cynical about how so many are angry
& searching for a companionable mob to show that their great misery
is oh so inconveniently displeased about shops & salons, (the nerve of them)
wanting their employees protected when Privilege
is now a Liberty Fight to carry Uzis through marches for Peace
to keep mutating and spreading genome A to genome Z.
No one is tear-gassing that, pleading “can’t breathe”
like in the sterilized wards the size of stadiums if put together
globally – see – waving white flags to reflective face shields,
goggles & layers of gowns stretched into latex, the gloved touch
an antiseptic cry of good-bye mirrored in beeping equipment,
the hissing, decompressing & pumping ocean of lives
named or unnamed in today’s pandemic headlines
tomorrow’s may forget once vaccines return normalcy,
that other great body, blood-red, industrious, tidal & churning
or is that just the fear, blue mask asks blue mask,
that the human species has learned nothing
.
James Walton
.
Tsundoku
.
(the condition of acquiring reading
materials but letting them pile up
in one’s home without reading them)
.
They are laid out for this Sunday
stations between lockdown dates
and if an ear is pressed to them
.
words singing out of lethargy
rise out of loose leaf castings
.
from waiting rooms across the city
a fall of sound as another bearer
signals to lounges kitchens hallways
.
that awakening hope of release
in the chugging unopened language
.
where skimmed pages delayed
hanging on by the faded light
of patience stretched amongst the piles
.
convey the railway alphabet
a slower mystery of words
.
stops to start again ticket less
written as we are by each other
for carriage into other lives
.
James Walton is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He is the author of four widely acclaimed collections of poetry. ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’, ‘Walking Through Fences’, ‘Unstill Mosaics’, and ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’. His fifth collection will be released shortly.
.
Antoni Ooto
.
We’ll Remember…
.
“Stop the Steal”
.
that day—when the weight of the mob
breached the barricades.
.
When anarchy broke through,
.
scaling the walls,
crushing, storming The Hill,
bludgeoning police,
.
a shot fires into a woman
as the incensed mob screams on
.
scouring the hallways
crazed,
battering doors, disrupting the senate
.
through a “test by combat”
encouraged by our tyrant and his cronies
.
All this—
a performance of “might makes right”
.
as proudly grotesque figures
carry away trophies.
.
This was the worst and the least of our nature—
it was the winter of a nation coming apart
.
before a cell phone lens…
revealing no enemy but ourselves.
.
(January 6, 2021)
.
Antoni Ooto is an internationally published poet and flash fiction writer. Well-known for his abstract expressionist art.His recent poems have been published in Amethyst Review, The BeZine, Green Ink Poetry, The Poet Magazine, North of Oxford, The Wild Word, and many journals and anthologies. He lives and works in upstate New York with his wife poet/storyteller, Judy DeCroce.
.
Ethel Gofen
.
Coronavirus Haiku
.
Coronavirus:
Epic pandemonium,
Pandemic upset.
.
If you’re feeling scared,
Change those letters to sacred;
See it in each soul.
.
Vaccines have arrived.
Herd immunity awaits.
We shall overcome!
.
Ethel Gofen is a poet, author of two books in the series, Cultures of the World, for which she wrote the volumes on France and Argentina in 1990 and 1992.  She and her husband both survived Covid-19 in May 2020.
.
Michael A. Griffith
.
Mercy
.
What kills you fastest,
the fleece in your lungs or thorns
in your throat? Choking and the loss of vision
as constriction becomes everything.
.
Worms and fireflies swim across darkened eyes.
Everything becomes constriction.
Your hands not your own, your spine a jellyfish.
Pinprick of a voice over you: No,
everything is not alright.
.
Heat—wet, oppressive, surrounds you.
Heat—no air worth breathing,
what air is to be had? Gulping
is never enough, gasping is never a help.
Python oozes heavy around your chest.
.
Surrounding you, the urinal smell,
as the tube is taped to your lips
in a machine’s tinnitus whine.
A sting to your upper arm—
and constriction becomes mercy.
.
Michael A. Griffith teaches at Raritan Valley and Mercer County Community Colleges in central NJ. He is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Bloodline, Exposed, and New Paths to Eden. Mike hosts a monthly poetry workshop through the Princeton Public Library. Recent work appears in Kelsey Review, 13 Myna Birds, Impspired, Page & Spine, Haiku Journal, and North of Oxford.
.
Ken Soyow
.
Deadly Virus
.
She cried when I left,
each time knowing it could be the last.
.
She used to keep meticulous records,
said the woman who did her taxes.
It’s sad watching her grow old, said a friend,
as my mother limped past with her walker.
.
I was there in March, as the rope tightened —
screening, testing, restrictions,
daily notices of what they’d do
if any cases in the county,
if cases among nursing home staff
or among residents —
.
I cut my visit short, skipping coffee
Friday morning for fear of a lockdown.
When are you coming back? she asked,
left alone with her caregivers
planted in front of the TV.
.
When the pandemic is over.
When they let me in, I said.
.
Pick me up and take me home, she said.
You are home, I said.
The furniture looks familiar, she said,
but this isn’t home.
.
Are you coming to visit today?
No, I’m six hundred miles away,
and they’re not allowing visitors, I said.
Maybe your brother could pick me up.
.
She sat in her wheelchair, often napping.
She dreamt her dead husband was calling
from the doorway.
.
It was a stroke, the doctor said.
.
Ken Soyow is a retired physician, living in Massachusetts.
.
Bartholomew Barker
.
A River Flows Through Us All
.
I was talking with this fish
the other day while I rested
on the banks of the Eno River.
She’d noticed a change.
.
The water was clearer,
the air quieter
even the bugs tasted better.
She felt lucky—
.
Lucky to be alive
in this glorious time.
She had no word for virus,
so I explained that my people
were sick and dying.
.
She sympathized— wished
the best for me and my school
and as she swam away she remarked,
In the weeds or over rocks—
by the shore or in the darkness—
a river flows through us all.
.
My Hermitage
– or How I Started a Pandemic
.
I last touched
a germ-covered body
over a year ago
and I am finally blossoming
into my hermitage
with a beard longer
than Longfellow’s.
.
I was bored with bookstore readings,
stale coffeeshop open mics,
workshops in sterile libraries
and tired of everyday showering,
putting on both socks and shoes,
the horror of going outside
in fetid heat or brittle cold.
.
So, with candles and wine,
I cast a spell of words,curling forth the RNA—
Rhythm, Neologism, Anaphora—
to spread through journals
and blogposts, infecting
my innocent readers.
.
All so I could languish
in these long nights,
sit in darkened rooms alone,
listen to Gnossiennes
and write, write, write
until the antibodies
kick down my door.
.
Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a
collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North
Carolina. His first poetry collection, Wednesday Night Regular, written
in and about strip clubs, was published in 2013. His second, Milkshakes
and Chilidogs, a chapbook of food inspired poetry was served in 2017.
Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut
for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes
money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
.

Hot Sauna

Hot Sauna  by Maria Keane   http://www.mariakeane.com/

Summer 2020 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 2020 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/

 .

Stay Safe – Vaccinate – Mask Up
Diane Sahms and g emil reutter
.

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/
.
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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

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

 

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!

.

 

 

New Release from Poet Stephen Page

salty

Congratulations to North of Oxford contributor Stephen Page on the release of his new book, The Salty River Bleeds ! 

The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page

Praise for The Salty River Bleeds

The Salty River Bleeds is a juicy tale in verse that draws us into the teeming world of a large Argentinian ranch. This world is populated by herds of horses and cows, nefarious ranch hands, foxes, bees, bats, parrots, carnivorous ants, Andean flamingoes, cattle rustlers, horse thieves, to name but a few of its many denizens. The narrative reveals the complicated web of woes in the life of a land manager, the tyranny of weather patterns, and one man’s battle against the encroachment of pesticides. In this world, nature’s staggering beauty and naked brutality are constantly in evidence. A stallion “learns the phases of grass.” Trucks struggle through “the butter of mud.” Cows can explode with bloat, and rain that the narrator prays will be called down from the sky by the croaking of tree frogs can make or break you. As its title suggests, The Salty River Bleeds is packed with the drama of birth, death and eternal conflict.

–Amy Gerstler, author of Bitter Angel

The Salty River Bleeds is ambitious in its scope and its execution, with a relevance to contemporary environmental issues. Stephen Page deftly combines poetry, prose, and letters…and relies on highly refined, compressed imagistic language and strong character development to tell his tale.

–Jim Daniels, author of Places Everyone

The Salty River Bleeds is a continuation of the story of Jonathan and Teresa that Stephen Page began in A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.  These poems speak of the visceral life of farming on a fictional ranch in Argentina.  Page’s narrative is a journey of perseverance through a physical and psychological wilderness where loveliness and brutality abide together.  Here, the likes of a raw and wet “afterbirth slopped into a steamy pile” leads to the mother straining to “stare at her calf until breath raised its ribs.” Page walks us through vulture-ravaged carcasses into pastures and wood and marsh; walks us into the solace of bees, mockingbirds and “a flock of black ibis” that “lift/and cloud away.” This is poetry told with an unflinching, yet reverent eye.

–Carolyn Welch, author of The Garden of Fragile Beings

The Salty River Bleeds is equal parts parable and fable, examining humankind’s destructive and self-defeating tendencies, particularly with regard to caring for the land human beings and animals rely on. Here where the Salty River bleeds, you will find that Myth swims, Old Man lingers on your peripheral vision only to disappear, and Black Dog follows you into the mythic Wood. On the ranch, you will encounter Tattler, Excuse Maker, and Bad Guy, archetypal figures standing in for all those whose motives are to be questioned. By turns imaginative and inventive, gritty and grisly, gorgeous and ephemeral, this is a book that will linger long after you have finished. There are inherent truths laid bare here that we would all do well to pay heed.

–Cati Porter, author of Seven Floors Up

In Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds, the spiritual journey of Jonathan continues from A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Looking for a story to explain his life, Jonathan meditates on nature, in particular Wood, a place of testing, a place of mysteries ripe to be discovered, and the people who work his land without reverence.  With an observant eye for detail, Page brings together striking images of the elements of earth and human life that become both obstacles to and medium through which the speaker of these poems understands his world.

–Caroline Malone, author of Dark Roots

Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds is a pastoral and violent account of ranch life. His poetic collection blends agricultural and rustic contention with eco-rural insight and directness. His delivery is candid and un-floral, thus bestowing the music of his perception an energy of seized quotidian acuity. These poems dare the readers to care about the animals, the daily activities of surviving rurally, and the grammar of the land exploited by genetic modified commerce and industrialization. The work invites the geography of natural breeding life to marry the perennial charm of ranch hardship. There, in his work, exists the sensual preservation of humanity, but also diurnal desires. Page’s bucolic poems “may take you to an unlit alley at night” or “sound like buckets of water being poured on the corrugated roof.” Regardless of the rustic tempo his work imbues you, through Page’s percipient, omniscient eyes, we see and hear everything he observes and feels and yearns. Like sheep hides “salted in the transit room” – Page’s work is designed to ambush us, not with the forcefulness or melancholy of existence, but, as seen here, with the authoritative authenticity of his persistent fervor.

–Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile 

Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds is a collection of connections. Page explores relationships, ethics, and economy through environmental images that ooze the intricacies of farm life. His thoughtful, sensory-rich prose and varied expressions of poetic form delve into the inner workings of losses and discoveries.

–Savannah Slone, Author of Hearing the Underwater 

Stephen Page is a true poetic chronicler of the complex business of ranching, that mythic journey. The Salty River Bleeds is iconic storytelling; a hybrid of poems, letters, and prose. Filled with rich images, “wood walks” and myth finding. “Life takes you into some unplanned territory.” Follow Page and we are “wading into wheat” and “working all week to save the corn.”  The tractor is broken, the fences need mending, but still we are watching and waiting for Old Man walking by the side of the road, the one who never stops. Follow Page into his dreamscape of visceral reality to satisfy a curiosity, an unspoken desire.

–Elaine Fletcher Chapman, author of Hunger for Salt

In The Salty River Bleeds, Stephen Page poetically and unapologetically reveals the real, harsh truths of running a ranch in Argentina. Johnathan’s daily stressors, created by unreliable employees, weather, and Teresa’s greedy son, Damien, find us anxiously watching him “run across pastures with my sword / Raised, looking for someone to decapitate.” Page softens Johnathan’s persona by peppering the pages with love, beauty, mate, and the whimsy of Wood and Myth as “A wooddove pops / its wings as it departs eucalypti mist auraed by / a vanilla sunrise.” The juxtaposition of the hard and the soft leaves us with a longing to know how Jonathan and Teresa’s story ends. The Fauna of this collection proves to be a mesmerizing sequel to the Flora of the initial introduction of Johnathan and Teresa in his earlier collection, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.

–Laurie Higi, author of The Universe of Little Beaver Lake

The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page

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Recommended Blogs

North of Oxford wordpress

A few places to visit on the web

Everything Literary

http://booksinq.blogspot.com/

Reflecting themes of nature, environment and ecology.

https://theplumtreetavern.blogspot.com/

Everything Literary in Boston

http://dougholder.blogspot.com/

Everything Casey

https://misanthropester.com/

Wildlife Conservation

https://chechewinnie.wordpress.com/

The Literary Page

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

Beyond Borders

https://wordpress.com/success-stories/ideas-beyond-borders/

Books and Coffee

https://cafebookbean.org/

And you can visit with our contributing editors

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

https://dianesahmsguarnieri.wordpress.com/

g emil reutter

https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

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Reader Picks for the Holidays 2018

 

The following list consists of 15 book reviews published in 2018 that have generated the most interest from our readers as of November 2018. Click the links and consider a purchase for your holiday gift giving.

Gessner

The Conduit and other Visionary Tales of Morphing Whimsy by Richard Gessner

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/the-conduit-and-other-visionary-tales-of-morphing-whimsy-by-richard-gessner/

border

Border Crossings by Thaddeus Rutkowski

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/border-crossings-by-thaddeus-rutkowski/

mailer

The Gospel According to the Son by Norman Mailer

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/the-gospel-according-to-the-son-by-norman-mailer/

appearances

Appearances by Michael Collins

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/appearances-by-michael-collins/

young

The Infinite Doctrine of Water by Michael T. Young

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/the-infinite-doctrine-of-water-by-michael-t-young/

attic

A Look Back- Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/a-look-back-antic-hay-by-aldous-huxley/

leaning-into-the-infinite-cover-428x642

Leaning into the Infinite by Marc Vincenz

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/leaning-into-the-infinite-by-marc-vincenz/

SRP.MCD.cover.qxp

Monte Carlo Days & Nights by Susan Tepper

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/monte-carlo-days-nights-by-susan-tepper/

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The Gates of Pearl by Jill Hoffman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/the-gates-of-pearl-by-jill-hoffman/

ornaments

Ornaments by David Daniel

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/ornaments-by-david-daniel/

Daggerfrontcoverhigh-res-730x1097 (1)

A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/a-bright-and-pleading-dagger-by-nicole-rivas/

thieves

Thieves in the Family by Maria Lisella

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/thieves-in-the-family-by-maria-lisella/

gil-fagianis-logos-book

Logos by Gil Fagiani

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/logos-by-gil-fagiani/

fire-without-light-copy

A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/a-fire-without-light-by-darren-demarre/

Lasater Philosopy of Ranching by Laurence M Lasater cover photo

The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Ranching

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/the-lasater-philosophy-of-cattle-ranching/

 

 

What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland

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By Stephen Page
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After I read What Narcissism Means to Me, I wished I had chosen The Donkey Gospels.  Glancing through the other, after I read the first, I sense more immediacy.  Nonetheless, I arbitrarily chose to study Narcissism, will accept my choice, and thus I shall report.  It’s a great book.  A good read.  The structure is interesting, with America, Social Life, Blues, and Luck as titles of the four sections, as if that were the hierarchy from top to bottom for self identity.  The poems are narrated sarcasticly, ironically, self-loathingly.  The point of the collection is to show that when the self is the center of the universe and the ego presides over community and society, problems arise—racism, dictatorships, presidents taking self-motivated actions without concern for the people.  Hoagland portrays the narrator, the “I” of the poems, as narcissistic, but this is aptly a tool for pointing out the fallibilities of narcissism rather than a point-of-view for confessional poetry.  Well done, Mr. Hogland.  I especially liked the poem the second section is named after, “Social Life”:
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            After the first party peters out,
            Like the gradual slowdown of  a merry-go-round
another party begins
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            and the survivors of the first party
climb onto the second one
                        and start it up again
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                        Behind me now my fiend Richard
                        Is getting a fresh drink; Ann, in her black dress,
                        Is fanning her breasts; Cynthia is prancing
                        From group to group,
                                                            Making kissy-face—
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                        It is not given to me to understand
                        The social pleasures of my species, but I think
What they get from these affairs
Is what a bee gets from flowers—a nudging of the stamen.
…..
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                        What I like about the tree is how
                        They do not talk about the failure of their parents
                        And what I like about the grasses is that
                        They are not grasses in recovery
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                        …because silence is always good manners
                        and often a clever thing to say
                        when you are at a party.
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All introverts can relate to this poem, all observers, all insightfuls.  Much of social life is childish, ridiculous, pretentious, an act, yet, it is probably natural for human species to behave this way.  Those who do not find it natural to socialize sometimes resort to the readily available drug alcohol.  Hoagland does offer a suggestion.  Listen.  Don’t act.  Don’t expound.  Make an appearance but do not lose the egoless self for the self that needs to be socially accepted.

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You can find the book here: https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/what-narcissism-means-me

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Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends.

https://smpages.wordpress.com

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