Encounter in the Checkout Line

by Rachel Emmanuel

Underneath my
cotton shield
painstakingly hot-glued
one by one
exact replica of the
Pinterest image
saved under
Modern Beauty

I lifted the corners of my lips
He nodded
eyes lowered
Long lashes above curved steel
silhouetting his
chiseled bridge
shrouded in
cheap blue paper
bought by the box
of fifty

Postured on 
assigned circles
large enough for
two feet
Invisible border walls
protected by conscience
Six feet apart
A world away
Distances that
dare not be crossed

Rachel Emmanuel is a New Jersey resident, part-time book reviewer, and full-time wife and mother. In her spare time, she enjoys writing about God, life, love, and the human condition. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Two Poems

by Connie Carmichael

Walking Back

When we walk back to explore the world again, 
it will be from the shyness of our doorways 
and the brokenness of a world wanting to change. 
We have all of the answers 
We know what to do because we were there 
when the dust exploded and the stars fell 
scattered and messy into that first night. 
Walk back with a gift.

American History

Pick me up in your car America,
Mama, take me for a ride.
Show me the beauty in this beast,
show me hope in every crack and crevice,
show me the flood, the light, and the dream.
Tell me about the ecstasy of the ride
and all of your hallelujah moments.
And after driving through the glitter
when time slides back to where we start,
America, show me the wheel you need to invent
for this awful aching in your heart.

Connie Carmichael is a former mental health care worker, now retired and living in Columbus, Ohio. She has a previously published chapbook titled Driving to Wellsville. She is living through this pandemic with a loving wife, a loyal dog, and a head full of poems. 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.


by Mary K O’Melveny

Some people draw troubles like heat seeking missiles.
Others swat them away like gnats greeting dusk.
Most of us cling to a middle, swampy ground
like hikers who have lost their trail maps, hoping
for the best, yet unsurprised by thunderstorms
or piles of fallen rocks.  Who plans for planetary disarray?
Who anticipates any day’s discomfort?
When we began to descend into viral madness,
we did not know our journey would be limitless,
our ladder unsteady. We could not have predicted
how our tour guides would wander away as if
confused by light sources or ancient cave carvings.
Everyone wants someone   something    anything
to point in a direction that makes a shred of sense.
Now it turns out we are futility’s followers.
Long on desire. Short on rescue.
Eurydice moves forward. She hopes for salvation
but she is powerless to prevent the disastrous
look backwards. Like us, she turns faint, weak.
Her breath slows in the cave’s stilled air.

Mary K. O’Melveny,  a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Washington, DC, and Woodstock, NY.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Mary has had work published in many print and online journals. She is the author of A Woman of a Certain Age and Merging Star Hypotheses (Finishing Line Press 2018;  2020) and co-author of the anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

New York April, 2020

by Alison Stone

Season of blossoms, freedom, bunnies, reborn son.
The devout beam with faith although
there’s so much, and so many, gone.
Muttering in nightmare, my husband grabs my hair.

The devout beam with faith, despite
unclaimed bodies being buried in mass graves.
Muttering in nightmare, my husband grabs my hair.
To soothe himself, he watches The Sopranos.

Unclaimed bodies are being buried in mass graves.
The curve rises like forbidden bread.
To soothe themselves, people watch The Sopranos,
death contained in a screen.

The curve rises like forbidden bread.
No gathering for matzoh or chocolate eggs.
Death broadcasts from our screens,
both science and prayer ineffective.

No gathering for matzoh or chocolate eggs.
Businesses, dreamed and built for decades, lost.
Both science and prayer ineffective.
I’m not betting on resurrection.

Businesses dreamed and built for decades, lost.
There’s so much, and so many, gone.
I’m not betting on a resurrection,
despite blossoms, freedom, bunnies, reborn sun.

Alison Stone has published six full-length collections, Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, a book of collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was recently Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack, NY. 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.   


By Jonathan Chan

‘Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
–  Ephesians 5: 14 (ESV)

if ever there was the dark delight
of feeling strange, the penalty of
difference in a faceless crowd,
quash it between a lace of
fingers. for no one moves in
earthy fluency, unencumbered
by a swimming thickness. no one
yearns for the taste of ambiguous
loss. for to wake is to listen, treading
in the scuppered soil, watching the
sunbeams scatter between the
casuarina trees. to wake is to
learn each sorrow by name:
tender, unheeded, and slowly
familiar. gradually, each apology
will be as a seed, ripe for dispersal,
yearning for growth,
thirty, sixty, and a

Jonathan Chan recently graduated from Cambridge University with an English degree. Born in New York to a Malaysian father and South Korean mother, he was raised in Singapore, where he is presently based. He is a naturalized Singaporean citizen. He is interested in questions of faith, identity, and human expression. He has been recently been moved by the writing of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wole Soyinka, and Ken Liu.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.

Outside My Window Right Now

by Lynn Sweeting 

I wanted to say
The night didn’t know
About the pandemic,
But this wasn’t true.
The night knew,
It just didn’t care.
Singers kept singing,
Hibiscuses kept budding,
Crabgrass kept creeping
Across the rocky yard,
In the canopy somewhere
Ring necks kept keeping
Their eggs warm and safe,
And the moon that was
Full last night was returning
To darkness just as she
Always did after fullness,
Without any hesitation
Or thought for how we’d
Survive the virus or
Get through another
Ten day lockdown with
Only a dozen eggs and
Two ramen noodles and
Half a loaf of bread.
I wanted to say
The pink bougainvillea
Curtaining my window
In riotous flowers lighted
By a single bulb
Knew nothing at all
About how Covid 19
Changed our lives
For ever and ever
But this wasn’t true.
As did the dark night,
The bougainvillea knew
As well as I, as you,
It just didn’t care 
Enough to stop doing
The thing flowers do
Called blooming.

Lynn Sweeting is a Bahamian poet whose work has been published in numerous journals including The Caribbean Writer,  Small Axe, A Caribbean Journal for Criticism, Moko, Caribbean Arts and Letters, Interviewing The Caribbean, and Thicker Than Water (2018 Peekash Press, London.) Her prizes include a Pushcart nomination, and the 2014 Small Axe Literary Competition Second Prize for Poetry. Her poetry was long listed for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize for Poetry, and her work was a finalist for the 2017 National Rita Dove Prize. 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.

O Que Nao Mata, Engorda

by Marina Carreira

What would you say to the stoic anchorman
telling us to quarantine inside our homes,
surrounded by everything bulk?

You, raised on olive trees and their switches,
who survived seven siblings,
Salazar, East Newark in the 70s.

You wouldn’t listen to doctors telling you
to wash your hands several times a day,
expectorate into your elbow.

É. Your Avô pay that water bill,
you’d scoff, wiping your runny nose
with crumpled tissue from yesterday,

Only animals sneeze on themselves. 
Today an older man said step back
six feet please while he grabbed

too much bread for two. A tired
woman with a face mask sliced
the chouriço like a sad violinist.

What do you see from your sealed
hospital window besides an ocean
you don’t remember bathing in,

a sun that hasn’t cloaked your bones
in weeks? Here, I conjure you
up, what I’ve left of your wisdom,

to get me through this pandemic while
my partner watches videos on preserving
vegetables. This is how we survive, she says.

We can store cheese in salt for months.
Ai ai, 
you would mutter, O fim do mundo.*
Ouve lá, you would ask, já comeste?**

* “End of the world” (Portuguese)
** “Hey there…have you eaten” (Portuguese) 

Marina Carreira is a queer Luso-American writer and multimedia artist from Newark, NJ. She is the author of Save the Bathwater (Get Fresh Books, 2018) and I Sing to That Bird Knowing It Won’t Sing Back (Finishing Line Press, 2017). As a visual artist, she has exhibited her work at Morris Museum, ArtFront Galleries, West Orange Arts Council, and Monmouth University Center for the Arts. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

It’s the apocalypse, maybe we should fuck?

by  Ashley Howell Bunn 

By fuck, I mean that I thought of you while driving through the plains
the wind pushed so hard it stagnated the birds in their flight

and I thought about the desert and what the sun would feel like
and what you would feel like on me

but I think you like the cold and I could see purple mountains
and blue snow out the window as we drove

those nights when the sky is so bright it almost ceases to exist
like when thighs open and there is an end but not really and we keep coming

back to when I’d like to meet you here again but this is the end of something
and the sand and snow of other lifetimes mixes with my clay

and we reform, again
and again,

all I’m saying is that if this is the end where is our climax
and I want to spread open and open and open until I cease to exist

Ashley Bunn is pursuing an MFA in poetry through Regis University where she is also a writing consultant. She is on the editorial staff of the literary journal Inverted Syntax. Her work has appeared in The Colorado Sun, South Broadway Ghost Society, the series Head Room Sessions, and more. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her son and partner. 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.

Grain of Salt

by Stephen Mead

Take it with, take it.
Over the shoulder,
right side; left?
Why be superstitious? Place bets on what’s become normalcy
as if to survive is precarious.
Here is an example:  at a coliseum-sized superstore where all can be bought for a soul
in desperation, two women without face masks face off in the children’s toy department,
unquestioned hostility a given as the thickest skunk stench
when for that gentle creature it is defense but for these two, who knows,
all their invisible potential corona drops falling on synthetic star swirls
of heaped toy goddess dolls.  Did they touch eyes, noses first & to what other children,
parents, will those rancor-laced touches go?
Never mind.  Asking risks accusations of self-righteousness, an empathic indulgence
for the socially responsible with no innate filters to prevent self-flagellation later on
dissolving into that you did not feel enough refrain, deeply consider the context,
the causes and how in hell could you?
In hell, how could you, the name of that fertility goddess was nearly erased for all time
by different religions smashing her statues, her edifices, so much alabaster
like broken salt shakers littering the ground to glint in dust and be trampled.
A handful of surviving druid types, escaped the stakes by going underground,
building labyrinth networks to domiciles of peace which included cisterns,
lightning systems and stoves, the good goddess in kitchen niches
blessing and smiling on them all.
For us what excavated henges, shielding secret life-devoted circles, will one day be found?
The tower block ruins as obelisks?  The torn billboards as giant hieroglyphic scrolls?
Pandemic dread looms cemetery-large as crosses for the unknown
marked in earlier times with afterlife goals shown by the canopic pots, the mummified horses,
the great swords and spears stockpiled; even ancient cave ancestors painting of large hunts still
in some sort of spirit world after toiling, tired, scarred flesh was through.
Oh, salt grains sparkling all over the heavens show us how the light gets in
and brought out again from all of the broken places, including the asylum-locked,
the quarantine fever hospitals.  Help us to step away from watching our demise
on social media amid conspiracy theories and non-violent protesters, the leaf-blowing dads,
the wall of moms napalmed by heavily-uniformed fire dragons, each a gargoyle colossus
becoming legions on home ground.  This is all way too dystopian.
Help us to farm our plots, watch for hummingbirds, join communally with our neighbors
painting rainbows with the faith of children saving the world.
Above this so distant in endless galaxies continuing to unfold what do the stars really know
with our eyes resting upon them for vast calm or for help?
They seem welcoming and expectant, winking and nodding around our little glowing orb
shining with the lights of so many sorts of homes, and eternity will not blink on it.
Eternity will hold, the frontiers of space encompassing everything like a great soup
to which our salt is flavoring, even if we be nothing so much as just grains all.

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

Better Tomorrow, Today

by Maid Čorbić 

When all the chaos rained in, 
cleaving clocks, exposing humans
who know no better to 
brace for invisible forces, I
was told it’s a pandemic
And then everybody holds
Their loved ones close.                       

Life is a gem you hold tight as you
Get to that corner, but every day 
Thank God you turn back, for
Your future’s not arrived yet and
Now learning requires no luck

Doctors fight and fight along  
on the dangerous lines, as
we’re taught to hew to rules
and be the best in worst times  

The virus kills the old, and
Spares no young either, whose
future has not arrived yet;
Tears drip down young face
Like a legacy, unstoppable
like the rain from a black sky

For better tomorrow,
Be united and decide our
destiny, and still pray, for
the entire planet is besieged.

Danas Bolje Sutra

Sav haos na svijetu dogodio se u samo djeliću milisekunde
Čovjek više ne zna šta da radi, pa se bori za nevidljive sile
Želeći samo najbolje za sebe i svoje najmilije, da ni na koji način ne pate
U ovim teškim vremenima dok smo u svijetu izloženi virusu
I rekli su mi da se zove PANDEMIJA

Život je sada postao mnogo dragocjeniji i poštovaniji
Kad dođeš do samog ugla, zahvalite Bogu svaki dan
Što ste živi i da se možete radovati mnogim stvarima u budućnosti
Jer za tako malo sreće potrebna je dobra motivacija i obrazovanje

Oni ljekari koji se svim snagama bore da nas spasu koliko mogu
Oni su najizloženiji opasnosti, pravila su jasno izrečena svima
I toga se moramo pridržavati zbog svog zdravlja i zdravlja drugih ljudi oko sebe
Jer smo tome učeni, a i najbolji prijatelji u teškim vremenima

Mnogi ljudi također umiru od ovog virusa, posebno stari, ali i mladi
Koji predstavljaju našu budućnost svijeta i ponosni smo na njih
Bolne rane i suze koje mu kapaju niz lice ostaju u naslijeđu
Nezaustavljivo poput kiše na crnom nebu

Za danas bolje sutra, budimo ujedinjeni i ujedinjeni širom Zemlje
Stvorimo dobra poznanstva i sve shvatimo ozbiljno
Jer naša jedina sudbina je u našim rukama, dok još molimo
Da spasimo čitavu planetu koja je sada pod opsadom od virusa.

Maid Čorbić comes from Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a 20-year-old graphic and web designer who has been writing poetry for ten years. He also plays keyboard and loves to sing. He loves most when people around him are happy, and when charity rules the Earth. His poem appears in his native Bosnian language and in English with translation by VK Sreelesh. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.