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.


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. 

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 bats
men 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. 

Unplanned Obsolescence

by Carol Aronoff

A newspaper headline has rendered me 
obsolete. Do not resuscitate over 60. 
I have been declared expendable, asked
to sacrifice my life for the sacred stock 
market–for my as yet unborn grandchildren 
I may never get to meet.

Of course, a number of those asking 
are rich and over seventy who have 
forgotten their age in a senior moment 
or believe they are indispensable–like 
George Orwell’s Animal Farm where
some are more equal than others.

I never thought of myself as disposable 
before, never thought I could be discarded 
like yesterday’s old news. In that world
where value lies in dollar signs and decimals,
where enough is never enough, how can
I protest my relevance?

Sit with me at the right distance, wingspan
of a turkey vulture, and share this fragile,
precious moment. Life can also be measured 
in the ways we love each other, in the beauty
we find anywhere, and in the length of time 
it takes to read a poem.

Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published two chapbooks (Cornsilk and Tapestry of Secrets) and six full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, CornsilkHer Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz) as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation (forthcoming). Dana Carlson is a painter, illustrator, and web developer (by day) living in the lovely, leafy borough of Queens in New York City. This piece is called “Almost Batik Landscape 2.”

Roads to Roam

by Paige V. Maylott

Because, for now, I cannot leave my home,
And profoundly crave this warmer weather,
Within my mind I will find roads to roam. 

I’m learning to fear my microbiome.
So, six feet apart – we stand together;
Because, for now, I cannot leave my home. 

Some days this house feels like a catacomb:
The dusty air, shuttered in, and alone –
Retreat to my mind and find roads to roam. 

But with windows wide, joy is inward blown.
A child’s squeals and the tease of evening meals –
Because, for now, I cannot leave my home. 

Thankfully, I’ve got escapes of my own:
I’ll tour books, and games, or with friends online –
Away I travel on the roads I roam. 

I’ll longingly recall this sanctum domed,
With fresh united ways we’ve lived apart-
though, just for now, I cannot leave my home,
so, in my mind I will find roads to roam.

Paige V. Maylott has published several short stories in Hamilton, Ontario’s INCITE Magazine as well as a self-published tabletop game book. She is currently writing an intersectional memoir on managing critical illness and transgender identity creation through online exploration. A life-long resident of Hamilton, Ontario, she lives with her partner, her dog, two cats, and a pet rabbit. Her day job is at McMaster University where she works in Library Accessibility Ser vices helping students with disabilities to find creative alternatives for print course materials. K. Nizar, a multi-disciplinary artist from Kerala’s Kozhikode, who began his career on movie-sets doing art works before becoming a visualization artist for a leading newspaper in Kerala.

Lessons on Chores

by Noeme Grace C. Tabor-Farjani

We live in times of overflow: Ego emerges like worms, wiggling out of
mire and dire. Invisibleness now made more manifest.

We live in times of deficit: Humility parades itself on photos for
everyone to see. But is it truly there? Or is the futility of words, the
emptiness of many proud cups, the filtered photos blurring all that is
real, only plain setting of foodless feasts and poisoned drinks?

For longing takes on garments of many colors that cannot save itself
from fire. So much for embellishments, verbosity, grandeur,
delusions, and the mockery of them.

I spread my passions down like a bed of grass, a carpet of this earth.
Replace the hug, the kiss, the touch, the hand to hold, the quiet warm
body that knows the meaning of your wordlessness.

Until then, our longings settle in the fancies onscreen.

Noeme Grace C. Tabor-Farjani has authored Letters from Libya, a chapbook of short memoirs about her family’s escape from the Second Libyan Civil War in 2014. In 2018, she successfully defended her PhD dissertation in creative writing pedagogy. In between gardening and yoga, she teaches literature and humanities at the high school level in the Philippines.  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.

July Walks

by Stephanie Burt

It is July
And the plants can hear my thoughts

On morning walks, the wisteria twirls tendrils over the sidewalk
Just over the top of my head
The curling green vines reaching toward my shoulder as it grows in plain sight

The live oak provides shade when my face reddens in the heat
And the spanish moss sways and tickles in the breeze under its branches
Almost caressing but not quite

But not quite
They know what no one else knows save myself
That I have been walking home to inhabit the space of my being
And I have arrived
Albeit at the most inopportune time

For there is no one to tell
Save the crepe myrtle
Whose magenta blossoms strew my path
Headed for the altar of a new life
The trunks and branches suggesting the inside of your wrist

I cannot see your face
Or read your name, well, not exactly
Though I can just make out you swimming toward the bottom of my glass-bottomed boat
Or maybe that’s just the humidity, up from yesterday’s afternoon rain

You are part of the new bougainvillea blooming beyond the fence
The cicadas announcing it’s time to chill the wine and put dinner in the oven
The sun illuminating the underside of leaves into burnt orange

You are here in the is
And I am here, too, at last

Stephanie Burt is the host of The Southern Fork podcast and a writer based in Charleston, SC. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Saveur, Washington Post, CNN’s Parts Unknown, Conde Nast Traveler (and “back in the day” when she taught poetry at Belmont Abbey College) Sanskrit and The Hollins Critic. Her main focus these days is researching heirloom ingredients and interviewing passionate culinary makers, but she is prone to follow inspiration and passion off this path when it calls. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Grief Is Love Made Homeless

by Howie Good

I was born shivering in a small Midwestern city named by French explorers for a now-extinct tribe. As I grew older, I was given platitudes to speak and warned not to mix up the words or mistake their meaning. Occasionally, the sky would brighten, but never for very long, and then people would cluster on street corners and in churches and under trees and highway bridges. Some would be crying, having just learned that being guilty was a part of life. This would happen again and again. It might have been more endurable if the dark wasn’t always so dark.

Howie Good is the author of The Death Row Shuffle, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

Arum Italicum

by Robin Woolman

Like a pilgrim on my knees
I creep among the throng.
I stab and pull methodically
the veined leaves like hands
begging alms, or palms pressing
close in prayer,succored
by their tiny corms as deep
and crafty as belief. Each year
more Lords-and-ladies appear.
“There is no stemming
their colonies of poison,” botanists
warn,“but temporary abatement,
maybe. Wear protection: gloves,
mask, and isolate what you glean.”
Unseen the tubers divide, thrive:
Hydra teeth from which the Spartoi
Arum spring. Armed with trowel, knowledge,
and time assigned by quarantine, I dig and pull
and listen to the viral news. The smallest thing
can bring a species to its knees. So I crawl
believing with each weed removed–
a prayer is said for all.

Robin Woolman is a performer and teacher of circus skills in Portland, Oregon. The pandemic means she is acting less and weeding more, teaching less and writing more. Her short play, “Worship,” was presented last fall as part of Portland’s participation in Climate Change Action Theater. Illustration by VR Ragesh, who is a noted cartoonist from Kerala.