Hang On

by Richard Oyama

The train is at first sight sound, faraway
Thunder in a lightless tunnel
Like death-rattle. It is the
Days of war without end amen.

My mind is scraggly and
Disordered like my hair. I lie
Paralyzed in bed, reading Ulysses.
The Post tells me to drop dead.

There is a cone of light widening in
The empire of rats. The rough beast begins to
Growl. If you jump, it will eat you. You
Want that. Then you think

Hang on, you say yourself, hang on

Richard Oyama’s work has appeared in Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry, The Nuyorasian Anthology, Breaking Silence, Dissident Song, A Gift of Tongues, About Place, Konch Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Tribes, Malpais Review, Anak Sastra and other literary journals. The Country They Know (Neuma Books 2005) is his first collection of poetry. He has a M.A. in English: Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Oyama taught at California College of Arts in Oakland, University of California at Berkeley and University of New Mexico. His first novel in a trilogy, A Riot Goin’ On, is 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 work is called “Thunderstorm 2.”

Corona: Day Six

by Gabrielle Elaine Thurman

Back to the wall
Two steps west.
Wilted, yellow roses in a teal, plastic cup
A wall of glass
Facing south to the courtyard
Full of picnic tables and abandoned hammocks.

No one is out there today.

The sunlight
Cold and clear
Filtering past the spinning vinyl— Our only light.
Books line the windowsill:
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Book of Human Emotions:
An Encyclopedia of Feeling
from Anger
to Wanderlust.

I sit in the rocking chair that was my father’s Breathing
Staring at the same black/white/black charcoal artwork

Strung up on our four walls.
Staring at the same stitches
On the gray rug
And the muddy rain boots sprawled by the coat rack.

In 13 meters squared. 

Gabrielle Elaine Thurman’s poems have been published in the Vortex Magazine of Literature and Fine Art and Appelley Publishing: Rising Stars 2019 Collection. She wrote “Corona: Day Six” while trying to cope with living in a dorm that had gone from bursting with life to an eerie shell of itself in less than a week. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Mother’s Day Part Seven

by Laura Sminchak

Tucking my patient into bed,
I take his temperature once more,
praying the thermometer will give
some indication it is broken
or joking.

I am a ghost slinking to the yard,
finding a flower bed buried under
layers of English ivy and weeds.
A long-forgotten trowel left alongside
a child’s green plastic rake.

Oh, that day–
pregnant and coaxing my white-haired toddler
to say “dirt” as we planted milkweed
for the butterflies.
He could not find his words.
I could not find mine either,
anxiety clutching at my throat,
heavy as stone on my chest.

Obstacles were intruders
on a carefully curated course.
We settle ourselves to the
ebb and flow of complication–
relentless icy waves and the
gentle slosh of bathwater,
an ocean that is never still
and never ending.

I drop my shovel and
take off my gloves
I have lost the light.

Maybe it is not the virus.
We will have no results for days.
In times such as these,
is it better to suffer or to wait to suffer?
Impossible to say.
Will you watch it all pass,
not leaving any part of you
lodged deep
in the filthy muck of it?

White-haired silent boy
I could not leave you there.
You are of me,
connected with two heavy cords
called Hope and Despair,
grown from my blood and my cells,
diamonds, steel, and other unbreakable things,
braided thickly with sacrifice and joy
in equal measure.
But with arms around your impossibly burning body,
even bound together like this,
we are very small.

Laura Sminchak’s work has appeared in From Whispers to Roars and Academy of the Heart and Mind.  She lives in Ohio and is a licensed attorney.  When she is not writing, you can find her adventuring with her young children and drinking an embarrassing amount of coffee. 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.

The Daily Briefing

by Claire Loader

She wore red like it made a difference, 
but it was hard to detract 
from that face, no matter what the colour.  

Smug, with her hair so perfectly in place, 
it was obviously not by her own hand —
bleary-eyed, small people hanging 

from her dressing gown—that she had hacked 
at her fringe like the rest of us.  We 
had descended into madness,

the newscaster a daily reminder of how far 
we had fallen, her smiley head 
barely visible through the forest of bottles, 

the chip packets, the ‘lava mountain’ 
the kids had fashioned from it.  
Hair had never been so long, although what was growing

on my head was not moving half as fast as the nether 
regions of this new jungle 
that entwined us.  We barely spoke anymore, 

a splattering of grunts, the occasional sharp 
look enough to communicate our disquiet.  
When a caterpillar cocoons, she goes in 
knowingly, goes in with a plan.  
She alone will come out of this with wings.

Claire Loader is a New Zealand born writer now living in County Galway, Ireland.  Her work has appeared in various publications, including Crannóg, The Cormorant and The Cabinet of Heed. 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.

Our Plague

by Fran Ford

That death has the courtesy to gobble people up
away in the nursing home, the hospital,
downplays death’s hunger, makes us believe
death’s appetite diminished.  Our faith
in doctors and drugs, whose undoubted power
leaves lagging prayers and candles in the long ago,
tells us our plague only smacks its lips
over small snacks, picks at the plate.

Yet we also know that just because we don’t,
on a chilly early morning, hear the wagon
creak under its unthinkable load,
and the bell, and the voice yell,
“Bring forth your dead,” oh, we know
the heroes of our faith sometimes fall
as they fight to drag us from the yawning maw.

Fran Ford originally hails from Alabama, but she has been living and writing in Denver, Colorado for many years.  Fran just completed a manuscript of poems, Shapeshifter, and has been involved with Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop. She has had poems published in several literary periodicals. Abhiram JM, based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, is an engineering student at Vimal Jyothi Engineering College, Kannur. Aside from his interest in painting, wall art, and pencil sketches, he calls himself an “indoor singer.” His kid sister Varada J M responds to it by putting her hands over her ears. When she began hovering over her paint box doing art work for Global Poemic, he couldn’t wait to pull out one from his cupboard. Now she demurely takes a sneak peek at what he’s doing. 

Plague Night

by Scott Pomfret

During a plague
First thing you do when you get to a city is 
Find the bars that are open all night.
Hands in Saran Wrap,
Scarf wrapped twice over your mouth, 
Swim goggles over bloodshot eyes,
You try to see in the empty streets, nothing 
But love. Absence is its evidence,
A great experiment in mutual regard.

But one tavern won’t take you 
Because you’ve not been here 
Long enough. Another objects 
To the scarf over your face, prohibited for fear 
Of a more immediate violence than plague.

You know the bars could secure 
Some of what you need.
You wouldn’t have come if it weren’t critical.
You beg them to see your humility,
As if it were a cure. Your spouse 
Is a physician, she can’t be sick, you guys 
Need the money, and she, well, she needs the acclaim, 
Which is one of a thousand things you can’t give her,
While the plague rages.

Scott Pomfret is author of Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic MemoirHot Sauce: A Novel, the Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails, and dozens of short stories published in, among other venues, EcotonePost Road, New Orleans Review, Fiction International, and Fourteen Hills. Scott writes from his tiny Boston apartment and even tinier Provincetown beach shack, which he shares with his partner of nineteen years. He is currently at work on a Know-Nothing novel set in antebellum New Orleans. 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.

Carry your sadness well

by Obinna Chilekezi

Sunday was an eclipse
The darkness overcame the beauty of a day
I saw you boil like a volcano
Unstoppable, the lava purges on and on

I have seen ecstasy of love shine
And bitterness of hatred groom in you
Just like the petal fades from the hibiscus
And the heart spreads venom as smile

Come off it, this should be another day of love
As the clouds cannot withhold the rainfall for too long

See the marsh, the frozen music of dawn
And the sun spreads the day with laughter

You cannot stand there all alone, along with sadness
Come up now join the world to smile
Each a person, with a burden to carry
And yours not an exception to be.

Obinna Chilekezi is born in Port Harcourt and lives in Lagos, in Nigeria and spent some time in Banjul, The Gambia. He has written and published in journals and anthologies and his collection, Songs of a Stranger at the Smiling Coast, was published by Kraft Books Limited. Abhiram JM, based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, is an engineering student at Vimal Jyothi Engineering College, Kannur. Aside from his interest in painting, wall art, and pencil sketches, he calls himself an “indoor singer.” His kid sister Varada J M responds to it by putting her hands over her ears. When she began hovering over her paint box doing art work for Global Poemic, he couldn’t wait to pull out one from his cupboard. Now she demurely takes a sneak peek at what he’s doing. 

Haunting Memories

by Darryl Denning

An old cattle ranch
In hills of Mesquite
East of Palmdale
A huge circular tub
Wide wooden slats
4 feet above ground
25 feet in diameter
A makeshift pool
Every kid was welcome
We swam and splashed
Dunked a few heads in
The fresh spring water
Mom wisely stopped us
Going there just in time
Three swim mates
Polio virus victims
The two brothers
Paralyzed legs but
They did get better
The other poor kid
From an iron lung
To a wheelchair
To double arm crutches
No full recovery for him
The memories haunt me

The 70’s wild and free
In our prime and swinging
All of this destroyed as
AIDS attacked in the 80’s
My very best friend dead
Nine other chums gone too
A time of gloom
A time of great suffering
Funeral fatigue
The memories haunt me

Now COVID the silent
Seniors sacrificial lambs
Twilight Zone Zombies with
Masks hiding clenched teeth
Virus lurking, closing in
Hoping my friends and I
Are excused from
This horrible death
Memories manufactured
Day by day by day
On their way to
Haunting me also

Darryl Denning was first published at the age of 12, as a prizewinner in the Los Angeles Examiner’s Bill of Rights Essay Contest. His poetry has recently been published in the Saved Objects Project, Offbeat Magazine, the Curious Element, Flashpoint Publications, and Chelsea Station Editions.  He is the Facilitator of The Writing Group at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.


by Jac-Lynn Stark

On this hundredth Thursday of our isolation
The clouds of the receding thunderstorm
Hunch their murky shoulders as
They slowly lighten from
Dark gray to paler gray
My friend and I venture out
Along Lynn Shore Drive, the
Wind off the ocean
Lifts our uncut hair
Off our necks to
Blow wildly around our faces

We walk to Fisherman’s Beach to
See the lion’s mane jellyfish
On the sand we stand surrounded
By large red blobs, looking like the
Evil afterbirth of feral unions between Chthulu
And the mad sea monstresses of the deep
Maybe these creatures will be the next
Horror visited upon us in this apocalyptic year

Among the scattered blood-colored detritus
Of jellyfish and seaweed
The softest little creature waddles on the sand
Awkward large feet making it look drunk
It wanders away from the surf toward us
Passing right by my too small feet
To nestle against your large white sneaker
Recognizing you as who you truly are
Goddess of the eiders
Big footed, red haired, and fierce
You stand guard as it sleeps as
We both await whatever comes next

Jac-Lynn Stark lives on the North Shore of  Boston and is a Professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College. Her poetry has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Zig Zag Folios, and some other publications. She believes that all forms of creative and artistic response are more important than ever in these troubled times in which we live. And when that doesn’t help, there’s always a nice glass of red wine. 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. 


by Khadija Ajaoud 

In her smoky square bedroom
Embellished with
Van Gogh’s paintings

Kate was lying high in her bed
With legs locked together
at the knee

She asked me about
my favourite painter
I with eagerness wanted
to say lili elbe
But i said picasso
and handed her the lighter

Her fingers I remember
were as warm as
Her soft clean hair.
I felt like a pregnant woman
wearing tight pants

I tucked my right hand under the pillow
and kept crooning a radiohead’s song
until I fell asleep.

Khadija Ajaoud is a poet, translator and a performer. She was educated in Arabic, Tamazight (an old language spoken by people from North Africa), and French. She holds a BA in English literature, and she lives in Tangier, Morocco. She has been published in Dubai Poetics magazine and Poetry Festival magazine. Khadija’s writings cover a variety of topics: love, home, identity, feminism, social justice. She’s interested in theatre and arts, African literature, colonial literature. Abhiram JM, based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, is an engineering student at Vimal Jyothi Engineering College, Kannur. Aside from his interest in painting, wall art, and pencil sketches, he calls himself an “indoor singer.” His kid sister Varada J M responds to it by putting her hands over her ears. When she began hovering over her paint box doing art work for Global Poemic, he couldn’t wait to pull out one from his cupboard. Now she demurely takes a sneak peek at what he’s doing.