Asunción, Paraguay. The Silence

by John Anthony Fingleton



I’ve never seen such silence,

Not a beggar child, or vendor is in sight,

Normally this thoroughfare is bustling –

But the Cruz del Chaco, this morning,

It is as silent as the grave –

Just as if flock of frightened birds, have taken flight.

The Lido Bar is all shuttered up,

Which in itself is a sight to see,

Normally it is open twenty-four hours a day.

And across the road at the Pantheon,

The sentries have disappeared-

The heroes must be lying in there confused and disarrayed.

Beyond the statue of the prancing lion-

Lies Juan O’Leary Park,

Before scene of some different fiesta everyday.

At night the place of homeless men,

Sleeping on the grass –

Right now the famous ’python’ tree, even seems afraid to sway.

Of course, I haven’t watched all this first hand –

But I’ve seen it on the daily news reports-

You need a great excuse to travel into town.

A little like John O’sullivan’s snaps,

Of what is happening back in Cork,

Two things they have in common – no one is around.



John Anthony Fingleton was born in Cork City, in the Republic of Ireland and lives in Paraguay South America. His poems have been published in journals and anthologies in Ireland, UK, USA, India, and France, including in Spillwords, Alien Bhudda, The Red Door, Piker Press,Super Poetry Highway, The Writers Magazine, and Ariel Chart. He has had three plays produced and was Poet of the Year (2016) for the Destiny Poets International Community. He has read his poems on Irish and American radio as well in Spanish on South American broadcasts. He has also contributed to four books of poetry for children. Bill Mazza is a visual artist using chance, duration, and accumulation to reinterpret landscape as a relationship of people to their mediated environments, through painting, performance, and community-building collaborations.

Weed-Bracelets

by Holly Threm Goslin


As kids
we plucked white clover
weaving stems into bracelets and crowns.
They were flowers, not weeds: regalia befitting
the Childlike Empress in her layers of pearlescent white.
Chiggers pierced bare skin (unnoticed at the time) as we sat
cross-legged in soft, dense patches of possible four-leaf clovers.

Don’t stay cooped up. Take a walk outside. Commune with nature.
Make a bracelet of inverted duct tape (sticky side exposed).
Explore your yard for fallen leaves, petals, feathers and
add them to the tape. Leave wildflowers for bees.
Don’t wallow in isolation-imposed grief;
Instead, be productive while you
stay home.



Holly Threm Goslin is a faculty member, writer, and animal rescue advocate. Recent work has appeared in The DewdropHoneyBookRuminate Magazine, and Cave Region Review. She lives in the southern U.S. with her husband and dogs. Varada J.M. is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

A Finger Tip Has One Hundred Nerve Endings

by Mary K O’Melveny


This fact explains why I want to caress
every surface. Press hard against countertop,
doorframe, bed pillow. Finger each avocado,
orange, purple onion. Fondle a pale
pink dogwood petal, trace each fine line to
its yellow center flower where hope resides.

Strangers and neighbors pass in hallways or
on sidewalks. I want to reach out, extend
my arms, hold their hands. I believe they might
feel the same though we simply nod our heads.
I am one of the lucky ones. Each night,
my wife and I explore our tender places.



Mary K O’Melveny began writing poetry after retiring from a long career as a labor rights lawyer.  She lives with her wife in Washington, DC and Woodstock, NY.  Her award-winning work has appeared in print and online journals and on blog sites such as The New Verse News and Writing in a Woman’s Voice. She is the author of A Woman of a Certain Age and MERGING STAR HYPOTHESES (Finishing Line Press 2018, 2020) and co-author of An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

Aprilcalypse

by Bruce W. Niedt


A light spring rain falls on Sunday morning
and the dandelions on my lawn.
I am here, not far from Independence Hall,
while democracy shakes like a leaf,
just as shaking hands is going out of style.
Squirrels dart across deserted streets
and tornados, my childhood nightmare,
rip through the South. This world can turn
on a dime, a dirty dime like the one I found
by the curb yesterday. From cornfields
to tenements, change is rattling the husks
and window panes. Some have spray painted
anarchy symbols and swastikas anonymously
in the alley by the trash cans; others boldly
brandish them on protest signs. My wife and I
watch the news looking for facts, while others
eat up Pizzagate and the Deep State,
jumping into a chasm of disinformation.  
They fear Spanish and Chinese like I fear heights.
I grew up in a pink split-level, wear jeans
like Springsteen, build a playhouse for my grandkids
and read them Goodnight Moon. Now I have
a President who asks if we can inject disinfectant
to kill the virus in us, and I think of the film
Idiocracy. (Dear Mr. President, please sit down –
you’re not helping. Very truly yours, a citizen.)
I wish I could just fly away from here, mount
a poetic Pegasus and lift us both into the clouds.
But solace will have to come from the real world,
like the empty boulevard lined with cherry trees
that bloom in the rain in my home town.



Bruce W. Niedt is a retired “beneficent bureaucrat” from southern New Jersey whose poetry has appeared in Rattle, Writers Digest, Mason Street Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Tiferet, The Lyric, and many other publications. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. His latest chapbook is Hits and Sacrifices (Finishing Line Press). Illustration: “Pandemic Daydreams XI” by Callie Hirsch. Hirsch who comes from Rockland County, where she discovered her love for nature. MTA Art & Design commission recipient, Hirsh’s art can be viewed at 105 Beach Station, Rockaway, Queens. In 2001 she was invited to show her work in the Biennial Internazionale dell’Art Contemporanea. “Pandemic Daydreams” was created over a three-month period in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daydreams allow for momentary escape, delving in our subconscious being.

Forage

by Cal Freeman


We count the disembodied peril by half-life.
A driver leaves a residue on a package.
I can’t see it, but it exists vividly
in my imagination like a nimbus of gnats
around a dog’s hot breath.
I lift it from the tin mailbox
and press it to my coat. I want to bury it
and forget it, or bury it for three days
and let another being unearth it. Three-day
increments seem reasonable. A couple
squirrels skitter from the garbage can
next door. They’ve chewed holes in the lid
and spend their time pilfering trash
and darting between the ghost of the gone
white oak and the porch stoop.
Because of their skittering to bury
what they will never eat themselves,
they end up with half-tails
from close brushes with dogs or hawks
or, worse, tire-tread patterns over
fur and tiny torsos. They are gerunds
in the subject position, uncoiled
agentless action. They never make it
anywhere, don’t even decide
which distance for eternity to halve.
Theirs is the looping circuitry of the manic,
the restive chattering of ones who fear
both sleep and what the dawn reveals
about pre-dawn predations. Fur and bones,
fear down to bones. I’m measuring the gone
oak in my mind and thinking of Mandelbrot’s
coastline paradox, how each unit’s precision
lengthens the object being measured,
how even dead trees squirrel
out of circumscription with the jagged,
exponential growth of fractal crowns:
lobed, alternately attached, margin lacking teeth,
is how the guidebook describes leaves.
Once there was a bur oak in front of that house,
and a nest of squirrels died
when the tree was felled. I’m thinking
of Zeno’s paradox of the half-life: if a point
takes up zero space then a squirrel
must loop endlessly between the gone tree
quark and the garbage can quark.
Each squirrel is an asymptotic function
plotted along the axis bole.
After they felled the tree, they ground the stump
and mulched the garden, but it won’t die
this decade. Its roots palm
the foundation of the house. Rock salt
won’t make them die. Is it make them die
or kill them? If today we are accepting
edicts, let the squirrels do the bidding
of tomorrow’s trees. If today we believe
the flurries have an aerosol life that exceeds
their slow descent, let Cantor dust fragment
into the page’s white and set the half-
life at however many hours might
bring you peace. Let nothing be polemical.
Let the turf between points of zero space
divide itself forever. Let the acorns ping
from carport and car alike and when the wind
picks up, let the leaves sing like a lakeshore.
The squirrels forage the now-gone
hyper-present because they know
there’s bounty in what does not
to our eyes exist, a ramet that can’t
be stricken with blade or bight. Let us inherit
such a theory of foraging and space, let us trade
the carbon in these bones to mycelium for water,
let us send small animals out
on happy accidents and call it life,
let us sense the indecorous presence before
it comes and release the medicine
to all that will outlast us.



Cal Freeman is the author of the books Fight Songs and Brother of Leaving. His writing has appeared in many journals including Posit, The Journal, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Drunken Boat, and Southwest Review. He is the recipient of The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and Passages North’s Neutrino Prize. He currently serves as music editor for The Museum of Americana: A Literary Review. He regularly reviews collections of contemporary poetry for the program “Stateside” on Michigan Public Radio. His book Poolside at the Dearborn Inn is forthcoming from R & R Press in 2022. Carolyn Monastra is a Brooklyn-based artist, activist and educator. Her recent projects, The Witness Tree and Divergence of Birds, focus on climate impacts on people, landscapes, and wildlife. The work that illustrates this poem is called “Varied Thrush” with Squirrel and Stellar Jays.

When will we get back to

by Eileen Howard


“When will we get back to
writing about bunnies?”
mourned a fellow writer.

I stepped out on my deck,
only to see one,
grazing unaware,
eyes focused on a few
blades of spring green grass.

Remember when it was
a perjorative to
describe someone
as “contemplating
their own navel”?

Now it doesn’t sound
like such a bad pastime.
We’ve all had to slow down:
why not take a look around?

We may not be writing
about bunnies,
but look at the proliferation
of creatures on social media.

A moose leisurely strolls
through the Amherst College
campus. A brown bear
enjoys a siesta in a
multicolored hammock.
Giant swamp rabbits are
caught on camera, swimming
determinedly through their
forest wetland, then
leaping, practically flying,
over their tangled marsh.

We humans are paying
more attention to our
pets and wildlife.
They seem to sense
a change in humankind
and respond by giving
us some careful scrutiny,
now that we aren’t always
running about in our
big tanks on our
anthill freeways.



Eileen Howard grew up in an Oklahoma university town, one of four siblings, who spent their childhoods camping summers with their parents. She went to Scripps College in Claremont, California, and had a daughter in Hawaii and a son in Halifax before landing in New England where she went back to school to be a psychiatric nurse, working in both hospitals and home care before her retirement. A writer and photographer, she has done readings at Hudson Valley events. She is one of seven poets in her writing group who published An Apple in My Hand. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Planting

by Cheryl Caesar


We have buried my crystal beads out in the yard.
Rose quartz, pink as a young and loving heart,
and bloodstone to strengthen it.
Black obsidian, standing guard against evil.
Clear quartz and amethyst, to soothe and balance us.

Prayer beads are not enough
in a time of social distancing.

We need to return them to the earth, to spread
those good vibrations,
up through the grass to breathe out the air,
into the worms to nourish the robins,
through the groundwater and back
to the humans who need them most.

I haven’t seen anything come up yet,
but this morning the lawn is humming.



Cheryl Caesar earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and taught literature and phonetics; she now teaches writing at Michigan State University. Last year she published over a hundred poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, and won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for her poem on global warming. Her book Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is available from Goodreads and Amazon.  Varada J.M. is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

What Do We Do Now?

by Drew Pisarra



Drew Pisarra is one half of Saint Flashlight, a poetry activation project with Molly Gross that finds inventive ways to get verse into public spaces. Additionally, he had his first book of poetry, Infinity Standing Up, published last year by Capturing Fire, and was a 2019 literary grantee of the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation. Olga Koumoundouros was born in New York, NY and lives and works in Los Angeles CA. Her work has been exhibited at venues internationally including Armand Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Salt Lake City Art Center, Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Stadshallen Bellfort, Bruges, Belgium, Adamski Gallery, Berlin, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, The Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY among others. 

Let Me Tell You


by Maggie Munday Odom


I am in my arm chair. Its flower upholstery smells 
of mothballs and perfume and a lifetime of chocolate chip cookies.
A pigtailed girl in a mango jumper giggles at my feet. 

Let me tell you, I say to her, let me tell you a story.
She curls up in my lap, innocent and wide eyed. 
This is what I say:

Seventy years ago, the virus came. Like a tidal wave,
it swept across nations. It snatched the breath
from our lungs and snatched the life from our eyes. 

The world stopped giving hugs. The world washed its hands. 
The world bathed in hand sanitizer and filled it’s closets
with toilet paper. The world wondered if it could get worse.

It did. So the world shut down. The world stayed home.
And while the world stayed inside and waited,
the doctors and nurses fought a brave fight.

The world cheered them on. The world sang from balconies. 
The world curled up on the couch with their families
to watch concerts on television. The world knew it would be ok.

Let me tell you, I say to the pigtailed girl. When it looks
like everything is falling apart, the world will come together. 
A virus is no match for a world as brave as this one.




Maggie Munday Odom is a 17-year-old writer. Her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Blank Theatre, and the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. Her plays have appeared in the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival, O’ahu Fringe Festival, Hawai’i Women’s Voices Festival, and Playbuilders Playfestival. Her poetry can be found in various literary journals, including Inlandia JournalVoices de la Luna, and Up North Lit. She is the 2019 Hawai’i State Champion and a National Finalist for Poetry Out Loud. Varada J.M. is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

Truths in Consequences

by Michael H. Brownstein


Within a winter squashed sky,
a Frisbee of cloud, purple lit,
frozen icons on the beach,
a monster on the sand,
a madman in the water,
and nearby, a wintering wren
crashes into the icy barrier of heaven.
No, this is not a poem of winter
beauty, nor does it have a spiritual aspect
darkness and light, love in our soul.
None of this is as important
as the image of sunlit glitter
flashing its nakedness across the lake,
a boundary of anguish and glory.
We come to the streets to watch
the wind pick up dead brown matter,
two honey locusts drowning under the weight of dead leaves
hanging from every branch
as if they were all of the batsmen murdered before they realized
they, too, were not demons.



Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published, including in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. His chapbooks include The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). His latest volumes, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019), were recently released by Cholla Needles Press. Carolyn Monastra is a Brooklyn-based artist, activist and educator. Her recent projects, The Witness Tree and Divergence of Birds focus on climate impacts on people, landscapes and wildlife.