A Brief History of a Time in the Second Decade of the 21st Century

by AM Kamaal 

It is later spelled out:
The aerial suffering, hard-knocking
On each open door of our homes
Without punctuated pause, 
And warnings. And concise words
Of caution, breezing in the air
Preach nothing but sheer solitude
As if nothing is more important
To our living than silence, and
Mascaras, and six more feet away
From our respective grave.

AM Kamaal is a Nigerian poet and writer. When he’s not writing, he reads Jericho Brown and Ezra Pound, listens to the evergreen songs of Àyìnlá Ọmọwúrà, or watches Hollywood. Illustration by VR Ragesh, who is a noted cartoonist from Kerala.


by W. Luther Jett

White petals drift
across the empty lawn —
sun’s arc bends.

That spring, I became
temporarily blind by choice;
doctors scoured my eyes with
lasers. Earlier I’d traveled
the Sichuan Highlands
during the Redbud Festival, seen
those tendrils of good-luck crimson; 
and how wild rhododendrons 
blanket mountainsides.

But I missed the peak
cherry blossoms in my home city,
then weeks of shadows followed.
“Next year,” I said. “Next year,
“I’ll walk the Tidal Basin while
“the breeze sends petal spirals
“cross the waters.”

And now next year has come
and with it, plague. The paths
beside the river are blocked.
Trees know nothing, save
that it is spring.

In my neighbor’s yard
a sapling blooms —
White petals drift
across the empty lawn —
The March breeze carries
the closing tang of winter. Soon
redbuds will flower.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. He is the author of two chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and Our Situation, (Prolific Press, 2018). A third chapbook, Everyone Disappears, is slated for release, Fall 2020, by Finishing Line Press. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.


by Stephen House

hopeful genius dirty collar situation wonder claiming
biting pencil scratching guess crossword puzzle giving answers chewing gum tied back hair fiddle greasy grey pot smoking
is anyone granting wish on hope be it lost or found in this

pink-lipped mummies designer gym suits platform sneakers outing needed selfie shots gossip babble murmur giggle text on phone
takeaway coffee gripping sipping keeping fast step separate pacing
walk hard team power beauty temple pouting flee delivers health

deal constructed business suits let’s go hey mate cool in awesome check out new porn up online no lunch spot sit down here allowed in shut down mode pull compensation feel strange new life in whine did you see gay dude look at you paranoia sings fear gamble

and them dot tightly small group thrice on well-mowed lawn hedge square as kids run shouting cake shop gifting wait birds squawk hopeful scrap day party happen easy rules social distance not held why
new work style no job or school manipulation welfare scandal

and me alone same time day night no change i still cruise wander
a swim they say no too cold bloke gape smile back on chat concern
in plunge to ice remind my real salvation claim i scribe own journey pack my bag when restricting travel lifts gain back my queer life amble

Stephen House is an award-winning Australian playwright, poet and actor. He’s won two Awgie Awards, Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award, Goolwa Poetry Cup and more. He’s been shortlisted for Lane Cove, Overland Fair Australia, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, a Greenroom acting Award and more. His chapbook, real and unreal, was published by ICOE Press. Illustration: “HopePunkWorlds IV” by Karyn Kloumann, founder of an award-winning indie press, Nauset Press.


by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

“It was snowing/ and it was going to snow”
Wallace Stevens

The late cold slips in
at toe-level where
the door isn’t quite
flush, more cold behind
and rain, becoming
snow that unpacks the
sweaters that have lost
a button or have
sprung an elbow hole
or grown a matted
fake fur collar, those
ones destined for Good-
will, but not quite yet
since an April chill
surprised us and we
have to make do in
the house with one bed-
room in the cellar,
its back wall built in-
to the hillside where
a now-lost son slept,
like a stored turnip,
under an up-high
window rimed with frost
while we played music
all day as if those
flatted fifth notes could
ward off the snow that
was coming, the snow
that we knew would come.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of five chapbooks and four books. Her third and fourth books, The Mercy of Traffic (Unlikely Books, New Orleans, LA ) and On the Way to the Promised Land Zoo (Cyberwit.com), were published in 2019. Her work is widely available in print and online. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Flower Children

by  Nancy Byrne Iannucci

Freedom, freedom
Freedom, freedom
Freedom, freedom
Freedom, freedom
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from my home
—Richie Havens

The flowers died
on my banana seat
a long time ago,
the bike’s still in my parents’
garage, which I haven’t
stepped foot in since
the Ides of March,

it took a long time for those
flowers to wither. I noticed
it first in the 90s, the colors
started to fade, kids
were wearing helmets,
high on Ritalin,
then came the rust,

it spread like a virus.
Lemonade stands closed,
street corners emptied,
cool kids left the bleachers,
John Hughes was misunderstood,
and no one knew the movie,
Over the Edge.

A mask has been added
to their armor–I saw
one on a little girl today.
She was sitting on a
bike with no flowers,
pedaling wildly
away from freedom.

Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018) and Toxic, which will be released in 2020 (dancing girl press). Her poems have appeared in publications including Gargoyle, Ghost City Press, Clementine Unbound, Three Drops from a Cauldron, 8 Poems, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Hobo Camp Review, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School. 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.

Patrolling the Border

by William Doreski

The sun rises, looks around,
withdraws to regain its courage.
Up again, it still looks timid
as a tulip. I’m out early,
plucking trash from the roadside,
hoping to encourage bunchberry,
clintonia, and wild ginger—
flowers gone nearly extinct
after flourishing for decades
along our dead-end road. The day
promises and promises but
won’t follow through. Orpheus
won’t see Eurydice again,
Ophelia won’t start swimming,
and our assassinated Presidents
won’t resume their leadership.
I’m sick of Dunkin’ Donuts bags,
of plastic pints of vodka,
chocolate milk gone sickly,
Milky Way wrappers flapping
on the rim of the marsh where peepers
chant in a disciplined chorus.
I bag the trash so emphatically
it squeals in protest.  Old friends
would laugh at my flailing gestures,
but they’ve all died and left me
to patrol the boundary between
nature and culture by myself.
The sun has gained some strength
and I sweat enough to attract
a maze of blackflies keening
their indelible, inaudible rage.
My bag is full. I heft it home
to deliver to the landfill,
where even the feisty dreams fade,
leaving only the faintest
and least offensive odors.

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e- and print journals and in several collections, most recently Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston. 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.

Dance of the Long Pause

by Louisa Muniz

All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth
—Chief  Seattle

Back & forth. Front to back. Side by side.

That forgetting & remembering

dance of who we are.

If earth’s rhythm holds the groundswell

of well-being    how do we heal her wounds

when we can’t remember

the language of flowers, rivers, trees?

We forget    everything is part of everything

& everything belongs to us all.

Forget forgetting. Tell me how the earth—

a sentient being    breathing, sweating, quaking,

bears our transgressions.

All spring the cherry blossoms cascade

in pink weeping blooms, heart-struck

by the red breasted bird—quiet, patient reverent

his hymn      a  hallowed invitation

to return to love, return to love, return to love

from the dance of disconnect.

Nothing moves for weeks. Unearthed in stillness  

I remember     I am—

trailing vine, fallow wind, spinning star

suspended in sky  searching for light. 

Louisa Muniz lives in Sayreville, New Jersey. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Journal, Words Dance, Menacing Hedge, Poetry Quarterly, PANK Magazine Women’s Anthology TL:DR Press and elsewhere. She is the Sheila-Na-Gig  2019 Spring Contest Winner for her poem “Stone Turned Sand.” Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net. Her Chapbook, After Heavy Rains by Finishing Line Press is forthcoming. Illustration by V.R. Ragesh, who is a noted cartoonist from Kerala.

Love in the Time of the Pandemic

by Jonel Abellanosa

In the novel I’m writing I’m a healer.
I call myself Luis, so the memory
of a stranger reminds me of the old
spirituality but, I believe, the new science –
what I do for others I do for myself,
altruism strengthening the body’s immune system.

On my way to the wet market I feel like an orphan,
homeless dog that sired generosity I lost
to a motorcycle accident. Leafless tree with a choir
of magpies and orioles showing nature still
holding the idea of community.


Arriving home, I give filled plastic bags
to loved ones in their golden years.  
We don’t live by bread alone.
I count the change, I give them the change.
Upstairs, washing my hands, I remember
the Essene practice, in Qumran during the time
of Jesus, of self-absolution, which Gospel writers
ascribed to Pontius Pilate.

A long, long time ago I gave myself
permission to sit on the floor, my back
touching the wall’s dark echo, arms like a poem’s
sagging lines on top of my knees, fingers
forming circles. This time, being alone
brings me grief, knowing that across the planet
lines sag, the poem with no other place to go.

Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. He is a nature lover, an environmental advocate, and loves all animals particularly dogs. 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). Ben Shadis is an independent-of-wealth artist and unrepentant shack dweller living in northern Vermont. He regularly contributes to conversations at the general store and climate change. He is survived daily by his cats, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Turtle Bailey. 

Stay-At-Home Pantry

by Lucinda Marshall

Jars of peanut butter in my pantry
            four, creamy, not chunky
Rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom cabinet
           I’d rather not say
Cans of beans stacked neatly in a storage tub
            enough to shoot a sequel to Blazing Saddles
How many times I’ve put on makeup this week
Number of days in a row that I’ve worn sweatpants
           seven, the grotty ones
Books that I’ve finally finished
Friends I’ve seen in person this week
Meetings held on Zoom
            too many
Obituary listings in the morning newspaper
            take up more pages than the Sports section
Confidence in our national leadership
Gratitude for first responders and grocery store clerks
Sleepless nights
            every second or third one
How many times I’ll see my granddaughter this spring
            only on Facetime
Date when we’ll leave for the beach
           not anytime soon
Days until my grocery delivery arrives
            three, maybe more
Substituted or unavailable items in that order
            some, maybe all
Closets I’ve cleaned so far
Blooming trees in my yard
Blossoms on those trees
            I don’t know, but maybe today I’ll count them

Lucinda Marshall‘s poetry has appeared in Broadkill Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, I am not a silent poet, Foliate Oak, Tuck Magazine, Stepping Stones Magazine, Columbia Journal, Poetica, Haikuniverse,  and ISLE, among others, and in the anthologies Poems in the Aftermath (Indolent Books), You Can Hear The Ocean (Brighten Press), Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just Me? (Beautiful Cadaver Project), and We Will Not Be Silenced (Indie Blu(e) Publishing). She hosts the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. 

Life Sings on

by Chandra Gurung

गीत गाइरहन्छ जीवन

भूकम्पले भत्काएको घरको झ्यालमा
आएर हरियो पहाड बस्छ
उजाड बगैँचातिर उज्यालो छ्याप्दै घाम हिँड्छ
बनैभरि सुगन्ध छर्दै बतास उड्छ
कतै केही नभए झैँ बगिरहन्छन् खोलाहरू
झुमिरहन्छन् बोटबिरुवाहरू

क्षितिजको चहकिलो ऐनामा
हिमालले हिमपहिरोमा चोक्टिएको आफ्नो मुख हेर्छ
कुनै रोगी बच्चालाई खुसी पार्नझैँ
ताराहरूअँध्यारोमा झिलमिलाउँछन्
झमक्क साँझ, थकित भरियालाई बाटो देखाउन
आइपुग्छ आकासमा चहकिलो जून

हृदयको अन्तरकुन्तर
उमङ्गका चराचुरुङ्गी उडिरहन्छन्
खडेरीग्रस्त मुटुमा रहरका पालुवाहरू हुर्किरहन्छन्
बैलुनवालाको वरिपरि बच्चाहरू झुम्मिएझैँ
परेली छेउछाउ थुप्रिन्छन् उज्यालाहरू

छातीभित्र जोसिलो हावाको झोँका पस्छ
आँसुको वर्षातमा पनि समयले नयाँ उदेश्य हिँड्छ
सुख्खाले खाएको डाँडामाथि ईन्द्रेनी सजिदिन्छ
एक्लो पहाडलाई अँगालोमा बेर्न
दूर देशबाट आइपुग्छ मायालु बादलको हूल

समस्याहरू जेल्लिरहन्छन्
यात्राहरू भत्किरहन्छन्
तर हरेक बिहान आशको नयाँ घाम उदाउँछ
डढेलोले खाएको ठुटोमाथि बसेर एउटा चरीझैँ
गीत गाइरहन्छ जीवन !

The green mountains come and sit
On the window, left wrecked by the earthquake
The sun moves, scattering light over the desolate garden
The wind blows, wafting fragrance all over the woods
The rivers flow of their own accord
As though nothing untoward has happened anywhere
The plants and trees sway nonchalantly.

In the bright mirror of the horizons
The mountain glances at its own face mauled by an avalanche
The stars twinkle in the dark
Seemingly trying to appease a sick child
The moon appears in the sky at deepening dusk
To show the weary porter his way

In some corner of the heart
Birds of excitement keep flying
Spouts of wishes spring in the dry heart,
Light throngs around the eyelashes
Like children gathering around a balloon-man.

A waft of a zealous wind enters the heart
Time moves with newer ambitions even in a rain of tears
The rainbow blossoms over the mountain, beset by drought
A band of clouds reaches from a distant land
To embrace the lonely mountain in its bosoms.

Problems tangle
Journeys halt
But the sun, every morning, rises with newer hopes
Like a bird on a charred stump of a tree
Life keeps on singing a song!

Chandra Gurung is a Bahrain-based Nepali poet. His anthology was published in 2007. He has translated many Hindi, English, and Arabic poets to Nepali, and Nepali poets to Hindi. His poems and articles have appeared in More of my beautiful Bahrain, Snow Jewel, Collection of Poetry and Prose complied by Robin Barratt (UK), Warscapes.com and leading dailies in Nepal. Karen Shimizu is not fond of writing bios. She loves to draw, paint, cook, garden and play cello, but does none of those things professionally. Professionally, she is the executive editor of Food & Wine magazine. She lives with her family in Birmingham, Alabama.