They Hired Me

by Carol Anne Perini

Carol Anne Perini is a full-time writer, a mom, and a grandmom. She is an award-winning playwright and has had several pieces produced on stage, She has been published in Rose Writers Anthology, Postcards, The Bookends Review, and a Chapbook Anthology at Duke University. She is a Community Literature Initiative (CLI) Scholar at USC where she taught the fiction cohort. Her first collection of short stories, Inexplicably Irrational, was published in October 2018. She loves dogs, cats, and birds and has a hard time identifying which group is her favorite. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

The Bird of Stillness

by Paola Caronni

Your voice echoes in the stillness
Of malady, silence,
The roads brought to a halt,
The cars at night like rare blinking of eyes.
Only drilling still continues on a slope nearby.
Landslides must be contained at all costs.

You’re loud and frank,
The anchor of our shipwrecked minds.
There’s still life
Beyond this curtain
That fell to end the play:
Ladies and gentlemen,
We’ll welcome you later again.

Sharp and unapologetic,
Sunrays, winds or rain you’re there.
We treasure your recurring calls
On our repetitive days.

We feel there’s some continuity among
The verdant and the noisy inhabitants of the Earth.
As long as there are trees with limbs,
Sing and dance.
You’ll be there, calling your mate,
Telling us
To hold on, stay awake.

Paola Caronni hails from Italy and lives in Hong Kong. She works as a translator and Vice-Director and Editor of the online magazine Ciao Magazine. Paola holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Hong Kong and an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Milan. Her poems have been included in various poetry collections and on poetry journals and publications. Paola regularly attends poetry readings and loves organising poetry events. 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.

Telling Taurus How It Is

by Edward Harkness

If the Bull has ever been brighter—
the head straight ahead, arrowhead-like,
not yet fallen below the toothed silhouette
of Clemens Ridge—I don’t know when.
Through a line of aspens, the river says hush.

Bright friend, we’ve mastered the new lingo,
our speech muffled, masked: quarantining,
social distancing. We eat our daily bread
of uncertainty, worried sick by the new sickness,
passed to us by innocent others,

passed by us to innocent others.
I think of the plague closing the theatres
in London, of Shakespeare turning
from plays to that more inward form,
the sonnet, a shift from public to private

ways of saying what our lives mean.
Tonight, I wish to speak to your five stars as,
one by one, they disappear
behind the ridgeline, more beautiful
now that they’re gone.

I want to tell them what it was like,
what we loved, why kissed and hugged
each other, or got into arguments
or hurt people we didn’t even know
or did know but hurt even so.

I want to tell your five stars
how on a dare we’d leap into a frigid
mountain lake or marvel at lichens
on basalt walls or study photos of our kin—
unsmiling, long dead—in old albums.

Certain as a moonless night, we must suffer
what we must suffer. We’ll kiss again one day
or pat each other on the shoulder or simply
hold hands on Clemens Ridge, awed once more
by grains of light scattered across a black sky.

Edward Harkness is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary, Beautiful Passing Lives, and most recently, The Law of the Unforeseen (2018, Pleasure Boat Studio press). His poems can be found online in 2River, Atticus Review, Cascadia Review, The Good Men Project, Hinchas de Poesia, The Humanist, Rat’s Ass Journal, Raven Chronicles, Salt River Review, Split Lip Magazine, Switched-On Gutenberg and Terrain.Org., as well as in print journals including, most recently, Chariton Review and Miramar. His chapbook, Ice Children, was published by Split Lip Press in 2014. He lives in Shoreline, Washington.  Hear Ed read selected poems from The Law of the Unforeseen, including “Tying a Tie” and “Airborne,” the two winning poems of’s 8th Annual Contest in Poetry (2018). 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.   

The Tiny Window

by Kurt Newton

When the pandemic struck,
we told the children they couldn’t
sit with Grandma anymore.
There was something in the air
so small we couldn’t see it,
but if she breathed it in
it could make her very sick.

The children seemed to understand
Grandma’s room was now off limits,
but still they missed her crinkly voice
and her sweet powdery smell.
So we cut a hole in the wall
and put in a tiny window,
sealed, of course.
It was the best we could do.

The children would peek in on Grandma,
they’d wave and Grandma would wave back,
bound to her big, soft bed,
always in her flower print night gown.
Most times Grandma was asleep,
even during the day.
And when the unseen finally did
find its way into her lungs,
we didn’t know how to tell the children,
so much had been taken already.

So we took a picture of Grandma
from the tiny window, and taped it
to the other side of hole in the wall.
The children complained that Grandma
was always sleeping when they came to visit,
but she looked happy, peaceful,
so that was okay.

Kurt Newton works as a health physics technician. He grew up in a small town in rural Connecticut. As a proud father of an energetic six-year-old, Kurt is grateful that his son can visit his Grandpa at least once a week. Kurt’s poetry has appeared in Hobo Camp Review, The Wild Word, Penumbric, and Oddball Magazine. 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.


by Jessica Weyer Bentley

It has been months of radio silence.
A crazed brain is the only companion,
even she is loud and obnoxious;
anxious without reprieve.
The poltergeist is looming,
rattling every door.
We stuff wash rags into the cracks,
We have been sent to our rooms,
ungrateful teenagers,
forced to ponder our priorities.
God has forgotten us here,
a teddy bear in the rain.
Those remembered have been taken,
the rest of us forsaken in fear.
The only north star is the rise and setting of the sun,
familiar enough to stop the spin.
Jehovah, come back for us.
Bring us in from the gale.
My hands are sore from praying.
These wash rags grow quite thin.

Jessica Weyer Bentley is an author and poet. Her first collection of poetry, Crimson Sunshine, was published in May of 2020 by AlyBlue Media. Jessica is also a contributing writer for the award winning series Grief Diaries and has her work anthologized in the 2020 Women of Appalachia, Women Speak Series Vol. 6 and the 2020 edition of Common Threads by the Ohio Poet’s Association. Jessica resides in Hardin County, Ohio. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.


by Wribhu Chattopadhyay   

These days leave the bed and open
the gate of a sanitized sunup.
Is it a rattling or throbbing behind a mask?
Here is an island and only sweat drizzles
alone without any  frivolity.
What is blank page and meaning?
A self laced cocoon or a force split
of an abnormal life is wrapped
in an enshrouding moment.
But a full stop alone can’t wreck the life.
It aspires like a phoenix
and a trial is on the process.

Wribhu Chattopadhyay is a poet, essayist, and short story writer. He writes both in Bengali and English. He lives in Durgapur, WB. His poems and short stories have been published in eminent magazines like Desh, Tathyakendra, Anandabazar Patrika, Amulet, Conceit, Poetry Protocol, Brown Critique, etc. His poems have been included in The UK Poetry Library’s Top Writers of 2012, Significant Anthology, Inklinks. Hibiscus, Tech touch talk (online). At present he works as a teacher. 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.

foggy as hell, and there is nothing in the paper

by Nicolas Gattig

why would
majestic eagles descend
like the flak-felled casualties of heartache
into a bloom of maroon manzanitas?

eyes full of love
a spectacle of beauty and desire, the whole ecstasy
of the world rolled into a passion-maddened burrito

just because
I am alone in a covid coffeeshop
needing to write

Nicolas Gattig has published short fiction and poems in various magazines and anthologies, including Asia Literary Review and Foreign Literary Journal. He is also featured with a COVID-themed poem in the upcoming anthology, Essential, from the Underground Writers Association. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Contributing Writer at the Japan Times, where he writes essays and book reviews. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Covid Cozy

by Siri Espy

I’m so happy to be here
social distancing with you, my dear
we said for better or for worse
and there’s nowhere in the universe
I’d rather be than this damn house
24/7 with my spouse

I’ve given up on getting thinner
as I cook you one more dinner
you never even try to squelch
a hearty after supper belch
sometimes it’s like a fancy prison
but with Netflix on the television

I think we’re slowly going bats
it’s just you, me and the cats
but isolation seems so wise
with Corona virus on the rise
we watch as all the cases tick up
and await the thrill of grocery pickup

A grand romantic interlude
is a splurge of evening takeout food
there’s no weekend getaway
but we celebrate each garbage day
there’s sickness, health and in between
but we never mentioned quarantine

There’s really nowhere else to hide
I guess we’d better stay inside
until the virus goes away
it’s quite a lot like Groundhog Day
but there’s nothing else I’d rather do
than social distance here with you

Siri Espy is retired from the corporate world, where her writing included two books, numerous articles, and innumerable reports and bullet points. Her varied career included stints as a psychologist, market researcher, college instructor, consultant and health care planner and marketer. The mother of an awesome daughter, she lives in Greenville, North Carolina with her tolerant husband and three crazy cats. She is delighted to rediscover her creative side and unleash her quirky sense of humor.  Surekha spent her formative years in the beautiful hills of Nilgiris before she moved to her hometown, Thalassery, to pursue a career in fine art. Her works have been in many exhibitions across India, and most recently to “Revived Emotions,” an international exhibition at Ratchademnoen Contemporary Art Centre, Bangkok. She served as the head designer for a leading Kerala based jewelery chain for 17 years, leaving behind an oeuvre of more than 3000 designs. Painting has always been her first love, exploring the moods of nature, and finding shades, colours, tones and textures in landscapes, especially focusing on her memories of Thalassery and Nilgiris. 

Mask Time

by Faruk Buzhala

Masks seal mouths as shut-up does
mystifying lips, shrouding smiles; then our
Teeth are but hermits, what’s bad breath
then? as words sift thru sans regrets.

We wanna beat them viruses, beat
Them from coming in and going out

Masks scab makeup, rendering
Lipsticks oblivion, botoxed lips too
As we don’t believe we actually breathe

They sit on our falseness in this worst hour
As, not least responsible ones care for all

Streets are all masked people, come a familiar
Face, we let down guards sharing a glimpse 
A sign of the old tribe from an old habit!

Kohë maskash 

Bartim maska per te mbyllur gojet!
Nen to nuk na shihen buzet 
Nuk na shihen dhembet
Nuk na dallohet buzeqeshja!
Nuk na ndjehet era kundermuese
Dhe fjalet i nxjerrim te paartikuluara!

Bartim maska per t’mos na hyre virusi brenda
Apo per t’mos e nxjerrur jashte nese brenda ate e kemi!

Bartim maska mbi maske fytyre!
Grave nuk u shihet buzekuqi 
Nuk u shihen buzet e fryra me botox 
Nuk iu ndjehet fryma!

Bartim maska origjinale
per te fshehur falsitetin tone
ne kete kohe pandemie
ndjekim keshilla nga insritucionet shendetsore
se si duhet kujdesur per veten dhe te tjeret 
Edhe pse shume nga ne ato nuk i zbatojme!

Bartim maska derisa ecim rrugeve
dhe kur te shohim fytyra te njohura ner to
Heqim maskat per t’i pershendetur
Ne shenje respekti!

Faruk Buzhala is a poet from Kosovo. He was the leader and manager of many events in the city of Ferizaj, including “De Rada” a literary club, 2012 – 2018, and the representative of Kosovo for the 100 TPC organization. He also writes short stories, essays, literary reviews, travel tales, etc. He has published five books: Qeshje Jokeriane (Jokerian Smile) 1998, Shtëpia pa rrugë (House without road) 2009, Njeriu me katër hije (Man with four shadows) 2012, Shkëlqim verbërues (Blinding brilliance) 2015, and Një gur mangut (A stone less) 2018. His poem appears in English and the original Albanian. Darren Anthony was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Largo, MD. After many successful years in fashion and later restaurant management Darren decided to pursue his love of photography. His work has been featured in Der Spiegel and Musée Magazines. He resides in Bed-Stuy, New York. 


By Karen Paul Holmes

The media has been shooting its label gun
at me lately,
when I’ve been trying to believe
I’m the same as fifty years ago—all Renoir color.

My mother survived cancer at eighty, believing
she didn’t have it.
Like me, she never felt different from herself.
Now, maybe a few creaks in my knees and hips,
and cellphone in the fridge by mistake,
I still dance to Bruno Mars,

which I will do at my wedding
though it awaits a time
when family can travel across states and seas
gathering to toast this last-chapter happiness.

Last night: Adirondack chairs by the fire,
embers and wine mesmerizing us.
We made up messages
the rising sparks might send.
Our marshmallows found a niche glowing sunset-red—
we licked each gummy finger clean.

I read poetry on the porch today to the murmur
of the ceiling fan
and watched his sweet, smooth face
sleep in the hammock.
My hale, not-elderly-to-me man.

Leaving the house, we wear masks.
They hide smile lines but not the rings
under our eyes.
If one of us gets home after the other, we meet
outside the door and kiss and kiss,
hoping the porch light won’t suddenly click on. 

Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014).Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Pedestal Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Diode Poetry Journal, and many more.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.