Dragons with Long Tails

Julene Tripp Weaver


Oh yes, I’m sheltering in place, and social
distancing—watching life energy drain
into germaphobia—a grandmother screams
to protect her cart at the grocery store.
Sanitizer the new king. We stand six feet apart
on sidewalks marked with chalk we wait
to enter a store, or the farmer’s market,
move forward with encouraging statements
You’re getting closer! three double steps till
Almost there! We avoid elevators, the rule:
two at a time. On watch, eyes down, for
direction-arrows in supermarket aisles.
But I lived through AIDS, know how to
slip on a mask. I’m not afraid of this virus.



Julene Tripp Weaver is a psychotherapist and writer in Seattle. She has a chapbook and two 
full size poetry books. Her most recent, truth be bold—Serenading Life & Death in the Age of AIDS, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and won the Bisexual Book Award. Her work is widely published in journals and anthologies, including: The Seattle Review of Books, HIV Here & Now, Mad Swirl, Stonewall Legacy Anthology and Day Without Art Special 30 Year Edition. You can find more of her work on Twitter at @trippweavepoet or on Instagram at @julenet.weaver. 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.

Quarantine on the Sun

by Elias Lowe


I have struggled to write a poem
because I am running from place
to place in my mind and my
neighborhood. You told me to
write about quarantine on the sun
as if I could conceptualize something
so hot and big. I’ve been thinking
about sex, clearly, and the word cock
and I’m working on loving my desires
the same way I love the sound of
the repetitive hand-drum the man
played on the shady corner and the way
that I love the tender, controllable things.
Palatable, transparent like homemade
coffee and pie. Still-life moments,
not the emergencies, hours
of birds, desperate decisions.

While I write to make the big fit on the paper,
you write to make the small things seem big.
Neither of us are saying very much,
we are both lying.
One thousand tiny failures,
a ripped shopping list
a sink overflowing with dishes.
My own desires spelled out,
suddenly diminished.



Elias Lowe is a transgender non-fiction writer and poet based in Pittsburgh, PA. They are recently unemployed and trying to make meaning out of daily joys and tiny rebellions. Elias’ work has been featured in Litro MagazineCosmonauts Avenue and After the Pause. Elias spends their time exploring what it means to be surviving through intentional community building and creative writing. 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.

Castles Besieged

by Sarah Morse


I once could retreat to the castles
in my mind
where dragons and gorgons and centaurs
lounge with foxes and wolves and hippos
in the company of royals and peasants alike,
all waiting to be written into existence,
all waiting to meet each other anew
in the stories I cultivate
which can only be brought forth
through my will to bring pencil to paper
or fingers to keyboard.
I once could summon these characters,
could converse with these close friends of mine,
at the first sprinklings of steamy water
or at Cinderella’s curfew hour.

But now
silence.

Bursts of creativity squashed
by a giant
tinier yet more formidable
than Jack’s.
Gone are the days when
voices argued over whether I should give in
to imagination or to sleep
because now voices outside my head
are drowning them out with
anger and hurt and blame,
and it is the pounding of my heart
that I hear rather than
even the faintest whispers of character chatter.
My fantastical friends are all trying to recover,
like I am,
from the crumbling of castle walls.
And I’m left to wonder
will they be okay?
Will I be okay
if they are forced to find refuge
in someone else’s castles? 
Or when this is all over,
will I be able to see
the turrets peek through the clouds again,
to visit the fortress
unconquerable?



Sarah Morse lives in San Diego, CA. She graduated in 2019 from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Literature, and in the same year, her capstone paper on Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time made the Global Undergraduate Awards’ Highly Commended list. She has been relying on books, Netflix, and Disney+ to get her through the quarantine. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

A Letter to Myself

by Somjeeta Pandey


Dear me,

The times have been rough,

You have always been asked to remain calm and strong-willed and not waiver at the face of    grueling times,

There always has been some chicanery going on around you,

People, who claimed to be friends, moved with serrated edged knives, ready to lacerate your  trust.

They succeeded, of course!

Hollow humans, they never deserved your love.

Your parents are growing old, you need to shoulder their responsibilities,

Time is running out!

The teacher you bestowed your respect upon treated you more like a slave who would keep you    running errands for her,

You were broken, you were lost,

You would break down at the slightest provocation,

You would sulk in your room for days, alone, aloof, alienated,

Nobody ever asked how you were, nobody ever bothered to listen to what was wrong with you,

A pinching pain had engulfed your existence,

Moving out of your bed and even going about the diurnal activities was a humongous task,

You just wanted cry, you just wanted to get rid of the pain.

Terrible thoughts inhabited your mind, you wanted to end your life,

But slowly you decided to rise up against the odds,

You knew something was just not right,

You knew you desperately needed help,

And today as you stand in front of the counseling center with trembling legs and a thumping  heart,

Let me assure you that it is just okay to not be okay,

It is okay to be vulnerable,

It is okay to break down,

But it is not okay to give up,

It is absolutely not okay to keep living in sorrow and pain,

It is absolutely not okay to not seek help.

You have been a brave woman,

And let me assure you, this too shall pass.



Somjeeta Pandey is working as an Assistant Professor of English at a government-aided college in West Bengal, India. She is also a part-time PhD scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. Her poems have appeared in The CQ:A Literary Magazine and her poems will also appear in two upcoming anthologies, Faces to the Sun: A Mental Health Awareness Anthology and Point Positive Publishing’s Rebloom Anthology. 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.

Like a Desert Owl

by Justin Goodman


There is nowhere to perch free
from pricks, and I am no cactus.

I eat sand and sleep sand. I am
sand, those rocks of starting.

The world is a single hourglass
tilting, tilting, tilting, tilting,

but I am no cactus. I latch on
only. When I land it will be

at last. I yaw with the hourglass
until then, and imagine it’s

what perching feels like.



Justin Goodman is an Ace writer based in New Haven, Connecticut. His work is published, among other places, in Cleaver Magazine, TwoCities Review, and Prairie Schooner. He also talks about poetry on Youtube as Moonlight<Moonlight. 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. 

Profane

by Linda Werbner


Dear old cemetery
Did I profane you
when I danced
like a Deadhead as the acid’s just hitting
spinning and shimmying
Among the long-departed Brahmins of Marblehead and Salem
the city fathers and mothers and their stillborn children
the sober ministers with wooden teeth
all rotted away in their pine boxes
their names barely legible on the granite, the marble
If I did, well, I’m not sorry
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Brothers, sisters
Your lives were short and full of trouble
as they say in the blues
But I’m alive!
You see, there’s a plague afoot
and I needed to dance
Sure, I could get cut down just like you
Mary Hart, the minister’s wife,
who died in her 34th year
Or you, Benjamin Craddock, cord wainer,
from some virus, some micro-organism
that resembles a meatball covered in scarlet begonias
In fact, that was the name of the Grateful Dead tune
coming through my ear-buds
as I danced my profane and joyous dervish
in the empty graveyard tonight
as the sun set over Salem Harbor.



Linda Werbner is a Salem-based writer whose day job is providing telehealth counseling to this addled world. Her work has appeared in Quail Bell and Oddball Magazine. To decompress, she plays clawhammer banjo tunes about groundhogs and drinking whiskey before breakfast and makes quilts for friends and family. 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.

Remembering

by K. Ann MacNeil

It’s not 
that I’ve been less than a mile 
from the cottage in weeks,
not that I can count on one hand with fingers left 
how many times I’ve been 
in a car in months.                                       


It’s not 
so much the obvious that 
scratches,
grabs,
holds 
me. 

It’s not 
our growing mask collection:
the first two cut and sewn by you from a thrifted purple pillowcase and kitchen twine;
the next two ripped and knotted by me from an old Red Sox t-shirt;
the next two thank yous from an abolitionist org;
the most recent two, silk damask, gifted from a textile artist friend at Parsons. 

It’s 
remembering not 
to wet my own finger
to turn a page
to test the cast iron pan
to twist the thread but refusing 
to remember when 
I extinguish the flame 
of 
a household devotional wick
with 
a pinch.



K. Ann MacNeil lives on an estuary in northern Manhattan and an ocean in southern Maine.  Her work has been published in The Still Blue Project: Writing with Working Class Queers in Mind; Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge, and Resilience; Closet Cases: Queers on What We Wear; and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America.  Salt, a mini-collection of micropoems, is forthcoming from Rinky Dink Press. 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. 

Covid Sentiment

by Carl Scharwath


My Mona Lisa smile

Seemed to match what

The future had become


Neither sad nor happy

Just a subdued acceptance

Fit into a collapsing vessel.



Carl Scharwath, has appeared globally with 170+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays or art photography. (His photography was featured on the cover of 7 journals.) Two poetry books, Journey To Become Forgotten (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and Abandoned (ScarsTv) have been published. His first photography book was recently published by Praxis. Carl is the art editor for Minute Magazine, a competitive runner and 2nd-degree black-belt in Taekwondo. 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.

You Don’t Know What It’s Like

by James Diaz


Let me tell you what it’s like in my head
first, there is, like God intended –
this unmade bed, scattered artifacts on the floor
a mountain of uselessness and everything I’ll need 
stitches in time that tell only half the story 
I am not what I thought I would be some days

my brother calls me, 
his car parked by a dumpster behind a Wendy’s
while the girl of his dreams is turning tricks in the bathroom
to tell me what I already know; he is on a death run
and it’s our parents who did this to him
I just need to listen 

this is what it’s like in my head
scars on my arms just to get off the cold county jail floor
I know about desperation 
I know about almost not making it
I know you can’t save drowning a man if the drowning is what he’s after
if he really, really fucking needs it, that bottom like a soft bed 
but he’s my brother, they are all my brothers,
these broken that I have traveled with along this dark road

this is what it’s like when I tell him; “Don’t die“,
and he says “I’ll try“,
some things are dug too deep in us to remove 
don’t I know it’s not true, there is paper, there is glue
there are a million ways to tell a different story 

but this is what it’s like in my head today
unable to save the one I love I save what I can, here, inside myself
and these words – they are also mine; I’ll try 
not to die. 



James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018). Their poems have appeared in Yes Poetry, Gone Lawn, The Collidescope and Thimble Lit Mag. They live by the simple but true motto that “feelings matter” every shape and size of feeling. They believe that every small act of kindness makes an often unseen but significant difference in someone’s life and hopes that their poems are a small piece of that. 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.

Sunday Service

by Duane Anderson


Sunday morning,
I do not drive to church
to attend one of its services,
for the lights are off,
the doors are locked.
There will be no live services,
no one to greet you,
no one to worship with.
Instead, I head downstairs,
turn on the computer and click
on the link for the service
the pastor recorded a few days earlier,
an abbreviated service,
no sharing of the peace,
no offering,
no communion.
I wave a palm,
but it is only my hand that I wave.
Nothing is the same
except for the coronavirus that is still with us.
I say a prayer for it to disappear,
then must wait to see if my prayers are answered.



Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, NE, and volunteers with a non-profit organization as a Donor Ambassador on their blood drives.  He has had poems published in The Pangolin Review, Fine Lines, The Sea Letter, Cholla Needles, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poesis Literary Journal and several other publications.  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.