Two Poems

by Cynthia Young


“LET HIM GO! THAT’S MY SON!”


April 19, 2020, Harlem, N.Y.—“cell phone video shot yesterday at the 145 street subway platform in Harlem shows a group of NYPD police officers terrorizing a little boy for allegedly selling candy.”
Tweeted @DrRJKavanagh

                                                                      

These are the days of Covid-19.
What could that mother have been thinking?
Her standing there on the subway platform
Watching blue police hands on the brown body
Of her son, hands that were not the brown hands
That held him at his birth? What was she hoping
Would happen with her words?  Was she hoping
Her words would have power, would activate ancient magic
That would release her brown son from the blue hands?
Did she think they didn’t understand who that boy was
Who was struggling to be set free? Is that why
She kept repeating the words
Like a command,
Like a mantra,
Like a plea?

How many times
Have mothers repeated those words
In other days?
..at the Slave Markets,
…on the plantations,
…at the gravesites,
…in the courtrooms,
…on subway platforms?

Dead sons walking.



“I JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO NORMAL”

Already we stare in amazement
At scenes from just months ago
Of people touching, hugging
without masks,
without gloves,
without fear, judgement,
or suspicion.

When I stroll through my neighborhood,
when other walkers see me
and cross the street,
I must remember

it’s just my shared humanity with the world,
it is what I might be carrying
that could pass on to them.

This is what frightens them–
not my hoodie,
not my muscular build,
not the color of my skin

until we get back to normal.



Cynthia Robinson Young is a graduate student in English at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, and an adjunct professor of Exceptional Education at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Her work has recently appeared in The Amistad, Rigorous, Freedom Fiction Journal, and Catalpa: a Magazine of Southern Perspectives. Sabiyha Prince is an anthropologist, artist, and author based in Washington, DC.  Her books and essays explore urban change and African American culture and her paintings and photo collages grapple with memory, identity, kinship and inequality.

Predators


by Jo Angela Edwins


It’s May here.
The sun is still high
at almost six, and yet we can hear
in the distance the loud calls
of mating owls, the evening criers
of a chartreuse spring. The noise-worshipping
neighbors across the street are gone
for the evening. Here on this porch
yellowed with pollen and so much dust
I sit and watch the neighborhood cats
eat the kibble I scatter across the brick steps.

I wonder where the neighbors are now
in this year when disease swirls in the air,
but there are places to go, so many
bistros and bowling alleys opened to the touch
of believers who disbelieve. I wish I knew
the heady high of being fearless, being
feckless. A breeze stirs, and I turn
my gaze to our narrow street
where a child this morning drew long-haired
figures in chalk across the gray asphalt.
Girls in pink dresses, girls reaching across
undefined lanes with arms long as telephone
poles, arms nothing more than yellow
lines, arms touching no one and nothing.
Now and then, a car drives over the bodies.

The cats chew their kibble, and I wonder
if the piles that I feed them will keep them
from breaking the necks of those smaller than they.
Science tells me no. In the distance
the owls still hoot. They would devour the babies
of these hungry cats, if they found them.

In back rooms of shopping malls,
managers count money, a fraction of which
will be theirs. Soon the child with the chalk
will return. I will watch her draw more children
in the street. I will tell this story, a story she never

will know that I tell. Soon enough, a sedan
will approach, moving slowly. I will watch as the child
will dutifully rise, step quickly, as someone
must have taught her, to the safety of the shoulder grass.



Jo Angela Edwins is the first poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. She has received awards from Poetry Super Highway, Winning Writers, and the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Brooklyn-based artist Gina Magid has been the recipient of numerous awards including Guggenheim Foundation and McDowell Colony fellowships. She has had solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., Artists Space, and Ana Cristea Gallery in New York and Acuna Hansen Gallery in Los Angeles. 

Bent Canvas

Arya Mohapatra

The painter
Now asks
If I mind leaving

His paint boxes alone
And stop smearing my little hand
Across his new canvas

Ink streaks all over
Messy

I smile and wipe my fingers on my
Pants
And walk away

And look at his colours
Behind the curtain


Arya Mohapatra is a thirteen year old teenager of Bhubaneswar, India. A slam poet, she has performed her poetry regularly and has won the third place in the Rabindranath Tagore Awards 2020. Illustrated by VR Ragesh, noted cartoonist from Kerala.

Things The Virus Took


by Yash Seyedbagheri

The virus took the little coffee shop with yellow walls. People gathered at large oak tables, whispered secrets about finals and Friday parties. I inhaled laughter, carried it in secret. It took the bar that reminded me of a Hopper painting, jukebox playing Eagles and Lady Gaga. Here I talked Russian literature and Hoagy Carmichael, strangers speaking in gravelly and baritone comforts. But the virus left me Netflix, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth talking monarchical privilege, Sam Elliott dropping F-bombs on The Ranch. I played their voices until the Internet stalled. Now I speak to sterile walls, words bouncing back.



Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. 


The Silent stand-off epidemic



By Sukanya Basu Mallik


I’m writing in ordinary wording about how I feel,
I feel inadequate, disturbing, enraging,

The definition of a ‘loner’
Sad descriptions fit me well,
Will a tight-lipped resentment, therefore, be the end?

I’m writing in ordinary wording about how I feel,

I feel wounded, paralyzed and plainly bad
Like a ‘loner’ abandoned
Left with just silence, that’s just guaranteed!

Sad descriptions like I told you to fit me well,
Therefore, a tight-lipped resentment shall be the end!



Sukanya Basu Mallik has published in India and abroad including in Reader’s Digest, Sahitya Akademi Bimonthly Journal, Lucidity Int. Poetry Journal and AIPF Int. Anthology (Austin International Poetry Festival). She received The Best Manuscript Awards for fiction & non-fiction categories at the Mumbai Literature Festival. Illustrated by S. Ramabhadran, who is a 19-year-old artist based in Kerala’s Thalassery. He is a student of National Institute of Fashion Technology. 

My Grandchild after the world opens


by Lind Grant-Oyeye

She will sit where I knit, holding my grandmother
and the hope she brought with her
after the Spanish flu ended 
after cherry blossoms hid their bloom

She was the queen of yesterday,
When daring ones made their own crowns,
Called themselves hippies or dreaming flower girls
and crowns were for the deserving,
not pick pocketed by invisible roaming ones.

Today, we talk about the mundane:
Snow melting into spring
radios acting as juke boxes,
health care becoming a real patient
and patients searching for night light,
when darkness brings its face suddenly.

Today, I sit where my grandchild  will knit,
recount stories of how she spent her youthfulness
and what happened to the boys  once lived
in her neighborhood,

 After tomorrow unfurls its buds
After peace is made with the remnants of the day,
and the day finds a way to exhale.




Lind Grant-Oyeye is an award winning poet with areas of focus on social justice issues. Illustration: Ancestral Map,” by Sabiyha Prince, an anthropologist, artist, and author based in Washington, DC.  Her books and essays explore urban change and African American culture and her paintings and photo collages grapple with memory, identity, kinship and inequality. 

Funny in Scorching Sunny

by Minty

        I got stuck under the drape

        Or drape got stuck on me

         But I can make it a cape

         Of a little laughter on

         And of myself in this shape

        In an extremely serious time

That has settled in my little world’s landscape

There’s a scope, oh, ohh and ohhh a hope!!

         Of a laughable escape

           And you my dear one

         Join me for why not

A sunflower for you and one for me

        For this is where we are in

But to manifest peace from within!




Minty is the penname of Rajasthan-based poet D. Saran Prakash, who has a Master’s in Disaster Management focusing on Conflicts, Peace and Development. These poems form part of 300-plus she has written and stored. Reach out to Minty at http://mintyspinsmagic.blogspot.com/. Illustrated by VR. Ragesh , noted cartoonist from Kerala.

Three Poems


by Giuseppe Infante

Quarantine #47

A brain on fire
I don’t think 
You care
About the lesions 
That bloom like a flower
In unseen places
With the sonic force 
Of a four horse chariot
Hades & Demeter ride on 
Left to float through
Barren cites afar
Among an infertile death

Quarantine #54

I’m not sure
How many cookies
It takes to be happy 
But so far 
It’s not 7

Quarantine #66

Smoke from between my fingers
Passes in a prickled breeze
Under the laughing sun 
Things just happen in time &
I just wanna pretend its 
The beginning of a real summer 


Giuseppe Infante is poet from Brooklyn, NY and is the Managing Editor of the small press Overpass Books. He teaches Literature and College Writing at Touro College and is co-host of the genre film review podcast, Club Dreadcast. James Roper is the chief photographer of World Food, a book series from Penguin Random House, the first volume of which will be released in 2020. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Mi Amante


by Roberto Chavez

My toothbrush lingers there

For months now

Untouched

Since I haven’t seen you


How I remember the day

We crossed the line,

Which we were nervous, eager, and happy to cross

By asking you if I should bring a toothbrush


After we made love, you wrote

You were happy there would be a

“Next time”


Now I long for the next time

I stay the night

And sleep in your arms again



Roberto Chavez is a poet and museum educator residing in New York City. His work has been published in Unboxed Voices Anthology: Volume One and Aphros Literary Magazine. In 2011, Roberto was the first recipient of the Kelly Herbert Writing Award at Pace University. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Talking Heads


by Cooper Lee Kidd


We are all talking heads now,

Talking heads on a screen,

Boxes that you can move around,

Manipulating them and your reality,

Wearing sweats and dress shirts,

Ironic?

Or iconic of Quarantine 2020, 

March 2020,

Spring 2020,

Rest of year 2020,

Who knows how long this will last 2020, 

But for now we remain talking heads,

Filling boxes on the screen.



Cooper Lee Kidd is a poet based in Philadelphia, PA. They are currently stuck at home but can be reached through their website www.cooperleekidd.com. Art by Bill Mazza, 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.