A Letter

Berthe Morisot. On the Balcony, 1871/72.The Art Institute of Chicago.

by Gregory E. Lucas

Dear Edward,

                        I am so sorry to hear
that the virus has taken your dad’s life;
for both of us it is a time for tears.

Since my last letter, I have lost my wife.
And I keep dreaming of a bright golden dome,
one like the woman in black and girl in white

see through summer haze as they stand alone
on a high Paris balcony, looking
at the city that seems like a gray stone

off in the distance of Morisot’s painting.
Remember?  We saw that painting during better
times, at the museum.  I’ve been wondering

if that brilliant dome might’ve meant to her,
the artist, the same as it means to me:
hope our sorrows end after losses that shatter

our lives.  You said, “When she painted this, she
grieved.”  Then you noticed the mourning garment
worn by the child under her white sleeve.

I know it’s weird, but everything current-
ly happening to us with Covid 19
seems somehow to have become convergent

with almost everything I’ve ever seen.
That closed umbrella that hangs upside
down from the woman’s bent arm as she leans

over the steel railing — I don’t know why,
but in dreams it opens up and shields me
from a torrent of tears falling from the sky.

Take care of yourself, Edward, and please
write another letter soon.
                                          Your friend,

Gregory E. Lucas writes fiction and poetry.  His short stories and poems have appeared in magazines such as The Ekphrastic Review, Ekphrasis, The Horror Zine, Blue Unicorn, and Pif. Berthe Morisot was a noted Impressionist artist. Her work appeared in nearly all of the Salons de Paris between 1874 and 1886. This watercolor appears in the public domain, thanks to the Art Institute of Chicago.


by Serena Piccoli

In a brownbricked semidetached house
in winding Spring Road, Wrecsam
in a snaking row of brownish hours
a man staggered a pumpkin
in a damp kitchen.

And then
bricked silence continued.

It was too orange\too round\too calm for him.

And that
was just the beginning of Autumn.

Serena Piccoli is an Italian poet, playwright, performer, artistic director. Her political chapbook silviotrump was published in 2017 by Moria, Chicago, USA. Her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Italy and Romania. She mainly writes about political, environmental, social contemporary issues with a touch of irony, both in English and in Italian (her mother tongue).She is a lesbian feminist human rights advocate. Twitter: @piccoli_serena. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Small Gestures

by Marianne Forman

It’s the little things
Making sure there is a jar of Lysol wipes in every car
at every door entrance
even using one jar as a door stop

Offering to fetch vanilla creamer for me at the Piggly Wiggly
sugared clouds for my coffee
after waking at 3 am

Wiping down the door handles
until your palms are raw
and you smell of sterilized sanitation

Washing your hands before you hold mine
asking Are you ok?
And when I nod
unable to make eye contact
you ask Are you sure?

You remind me
I haven’t been sick
in almost seven years,
even though meds
designed to blunt
my entire immune system
are pulsing in my blood
doing their work.

You remind me
that even at Kara Tepe Refugee Camp,
a village filled with coughs and rashes
and people seeking asylum,
even there
where I welcomed refugees
to the camp clothing store
holding their feet in my hands
hoping for an acceptable fit of shoes,
even there
my lungs did not succumb.

You remind me
Love over fear.

Marianne Forman is now nurturing her own creative spirit after teaching middle and high school English for 32 years. She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016).  Marianne’s poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, among others.  She has a collection of poetry forthcoming in 2020 from Shadelandhouse Modern Press. 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.

In Lockdown

by Hilary King

We do have luxuries. Our worries remain plentiful.

I take to naps like an addict. I sneak them, I need them, I lie about them.

We take long walks around ourselves. When our masks slip, we put them back on.

I acquire a cantaloupe and let it sit on the counter. When I can wait no longer, I open the hard brown wrapping with a knife. Inside it’s Christmas, sunset-colored sweetness, tiny seeds scattered like wrapping.

Evenings my husband and I sit in the backyard, drinking wine and passing uncertainties back and forth. Will this happen? This? This?

One morning at the end of one strange month, I write out a calendar for the next. I smooth the paper, then hold my pen still, leaving the squares empty as windows.

Hilary King lives in California with her husband, two children, one cat, one dog, and many masks. She writes poetry as a way of witnessing, as an aid to memory, as a way to explore the mystery of human beings and being human. Her poems have appeared in Fourth River, Belletrist, PANK, Blue Fifth Review, Cortland Review, Mom Egg Review, and other publications. She is the author of the book of poems, The Maid’s Car. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Catholic Alligator

by Jan Ball

A great blue heron struts
along the Florida shore
of our private beach,
as seriously as
a meditating friar
oblivious of Covid 19
rules to stay away from
other shore birds like egrets
and sand pipers,
the social distance
of a Catholic alligator.

We are hunkered down
in our condo like Carmelite
nuns albeit with a balcony
that overlooks the Gulf
of Mexico, not exactly
cloistered in a cell.

Nor do we eat gruel three
times a day like nunnery’s
served during plague times
in the Middle ages.

We use an agency to bring us
provisions that complement
the stores our daughter generously
refrigerated when she was here
before the pandemic really hit
her New York City home,
so we have ingredients
for shrimp with rice as well as
my husband’s shepherd’s pie.

And now, a man on a motorized
jet ski streaks across my vision
like a vision of St. Paul,
just missing three pelicans passing
on his left, too close to be playing
by the rules. 

Jan Ball has had 330 poems published in various journals, including Atlanta Review, Calyx, Nimrod, and The American Journal of Poetry, internationally as well as the U.S.. Jan’s three chapbooks and full length poetry collection, I Wanted To Dance With My Father, are available from Finishing Line Press and Amazon. Orbis, England, 2020, nominated her for a Pushcart Award. When not traveling, Jan and her husband like to cook for friends. Photo by Laura Hankin, who grew up in Columbia County, New York, and returned to the area after a 25-year absence. She is a law librarian with the New York Courts and spends every weekend in her kayak during the summer through the fall among herons and the occasional egret.

COVID Wing—Day 97

by Alan Perry

Lines on her face
trace the straps she curls
over her ears, tightening
the medicinal-smelling mask
around her nose, across her cheeks
under her chin. A face shield
tightly banded on her forehead
reflects what lies in front of her.
Hard to breathe, harder still
for her patients, their lines
in the hall grow longer each day.
More tubing to connect, intubations
to perform, rotation of the dead
with the near-dying–hallway
to room to hallway, and again.
Her voice is muffled as she holds
an iPad in front of the patient
encouraging his relatives to say
words she’s heard before.
No one can read her face
under the mask, the turning corners
of her mouth as breath fades
biting her lip when the patient
no longer inhales.
Droplets run past her nose
into the absorbent mask.
Her goggles fog up
from the heat, the heaviness
of what she must wear.

Alan Perry’s debut poetry chapbook, Clerk of the Dead , was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2020. His poems have appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Heron Tree, Sleet Magazine , Gyroscope Review, Zingara Poetry Review and elsewhere, and in several anthologies. He is a Senior Poetry Editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine , and was nominated for Best of the Net. Alan holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota, and he and his wife divide their time between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Tucson, Arizona, USA. 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.

Blue Juniper

by Effie Pasagiannis

Each day,
a dry hot spell,
allegiance set
aflame and separate
as we all emerged from
winter nests

It was a season of discontent
I called home,
where alone came in
bursts of isolated
states hurling insecure
pledges of belonging

On the ground
of this home,
I lay face up
squinting past
a sun blazing through
the opening,
of something hard
had surely fallen –

someone braver

and so the weight of history,
sourced and polished
from marble quarry,
now sits on the bottom
of the well

next to my home
of shadow
and light,
Blue Juniper
cushioning me
as I tell time
with rain and cherry


(not drifting)

a movement of intent,
I finally join the chorus

hey hey, my my
out of the blue into the black.

Effie Pasagiannis is a NYC based lawyer, writer and curator. Her poetry has been featured in journals such as The Write Launch, Raw Art Review, Pen + Brush’s In Print Issue 1, and Stanford University’s Mantis Journal (April 2019). Her first poetry collection, Anagnorisis, was published by Dancing Girl Press with a launch event at Poets House in January 2020. She is working on two poetry chapbooks and a collection of short stories, one of which is being adapted into a feature length film by Nomadis Images (production slated for Spring 2021). As a curator, she collaborates with other writers and artists showcasing work in soul nourishing spaces. Effie looks forward to more of these readings and events post pandemic. 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.


by Greg Lehman

The best way to measure the worst
is how much the divine
gets treated like shit,

gives a goddess a cough, you,
Nadia, four-years-old, already
a forest of black stripes,
lethal grace
without peer,
and fire in the prison
that is every zoo
and private owner,

you’ll be fine,
say your keepers,
like this is a good place
for you to be kept
and exposed you
to COVID-19,

yes, kept in from the wild
that would indeed kill you
if you were released
back to what you were born for,

the same wild we took
and keep taking
and will keep taking tomorrow

while you pace the perimeter,
another edge we keep scaling
higher, and hotter,
like we can win,

we will not, we might not
win this,

we keep burning
with every excuse
to crush and contain
more of what’s better
than we
will ever be.

Greg Lehman earned an MFA in creative writing from Lindenwood University and a BA in journalism from California State University at Fullerton. He has published and edited as a professional writer and journalist, and his independent work in this medium, as well as recent poetry, video readings, and artwork can be found at Loud Owl and on Instagram. His poetry has appeared on the Power 2 the Poetry Instagram account, Ink Smith Publishing’s blog The Inkwell and Quill, and Heart magazine. He also enjoys writing short stories and novels, as well as playing with oil pastels and pencils on occasion. The art that accompanies this poem is his own.

Pandemic Poem

by Lori D’Angelo

April nearly did me in.
But then I remembered Eliot.
Most of us survive the wars.
Except those who don’t.
In other times, we would
hold services to honor them.

But these days, we stream
Services online, gather alone.
Try to remember our old
Daily rituals, make dinner
And art while trying to teach
Our children ABC order and
How to locate rocks as
natural resources in the yard.

There are other lessons like
One can only go so many
Mornings without a shower,
So many weeks without a
Haircut. And, as it turns out,
Good coffee is necessary
Even if you have to order
It from New Hampshire.

Wait for the mailman like
Pheidippides who delivers
A message worth dying for.
After this, I want a manicure
And a carnival and hot air
Balloons. Will you make me
A cake that reads we survived
And my love was worth living for?

Lori D’Angelo‘s work has appeared in various literary journals such as Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, and Stirring. She lives in Virginia with her family. Ellen Benson is a member of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, a group that’s been making art out of cast-off pieces of the urban landscape for 25 years. She makes figures that may incorporate twigs, plastic bags, old doll clothes and limbs, toys, used paintbrushes, yarn, twine, ethnic textiles and found objects. She has a goal of creating 1000 figures called “DIVAS.” She’s made over 600 so far; 200 have been on display at the Philadelphia International Airport. See her work at InLiquid and Unexpected Philadelphia.

“Why won’t they stay inside?”

by Michelle Villegas Threadgould

Is what Norteamericanos

  ask Mexicanos

Like impatient parents

Aca lo que nos va a matar es la crisis

                                                                                                anarchists say

Literal Translation:
Here /hir/: Origin

What will kill us is the crisis

Non-literal Translation:
Aquí  /ä kē/: Origin

It’s not the virus but the economy that will kill us

That’s not what the Experts™ say

Sitting on el balcon de la Condesa
you see / they’ve seen

Once a week
they wander
the Mercado de la Merced
donde los ricos
gain admission
to be
salt of the earth

All it takes
to know / to experience / to live
is quince pesos / a dollar fifty

A dollar fifty
buys you a taco
spiced with sweat
and the taste
of a day’s worth of work

And so that woman
renting her stall
does not need
to make tacos / or tortillas
or traverse 30 miles
on foot / on metro / on bus
she has everything
she needs                                    in quarantine

Michelle Villegas Threadgould is a biracial, Chicana writer and poet who covers Latinx issues and resistant movements. Her work has been featured in CNN, Pacific Standard, KQED, New York Observer, and Latino USA. Seven of her essays were in the music anthology Women Who Rock, and her poems about Broken Borders were published in the Chachalaca Review. 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.