A Little Before Twelve

by Cynthia Andrews

I saw you today again in my mind
and we made love. You touched my
hand & held it for a very long time,
just as you have always done.  I kissed
your neck and the bristle of your cheek and
you pulled me toward you.  I got out of
the subway a little before noon, still
thinking of you after the long train
ride and surrounded by the smell of roses.
I was your muse, conjured up by your own
mind as a dream filters through a poem like
a goddess of light in a black gauze dress. 
You stroke my hair slowly and softly and make
me giggle and talk poetry long into the morning
hours.  You touch my hand and hold it for a
long time.  I kiss your neck & the bristle of
your cheek.  Your hand suddenly dips into
my blouse and I slap it hard, but you make me
laugh so much that it really doesn’t matter. 
One of my buttons drops to the floor and I
hear it click but I really don’t care what’s happening
around me, except for how good your skin feels
on me.  I feel your wet lips on mine and can taste
the beer you had a moment ago.  I saw you again
today in my mind and we made love again.

Cynthia Andrews is a veteran of the New York City poetry circuit, and has read in such venues as The St. Marks Poetry Project, Mid-Manhattan Library, The Nuyorican Poets Café and the Cornelia Street Café; as well as the radio programs, Teachers and Writers in the Morning, WBAI FM and Cable TV. Her work as appeared in Downtown Magazine, The Voice Literary Supplement, Tribes Literary Journal, Longshot, etc.; as well as the anthologies ALOUD: Voices from the Nuyorican Café, In Heat, The Unbearables, Will Fight for Peace, etc.  She was one of the first to be included in the Spoken Word library of Poets House. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 1995 and 1996, she was also recognized by Downtown Magazine for the Downtown Year of the Poet Award in 1996. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and resides in New York City. 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.   

Cop Shows

by Karol Nielsen

We watch cop shows one after another during the long hours of quarantine. CSI: Miami looked good because it starred actors from a favorite series, NYPD Blue. The show opens with a grizzly murder or the discovery of a corpse and the suspects quickly emerge. It’s full of beach and pool parties, bloody postmortems, cheesy lines, and unbelievable confessions. Too often I pick up my cellphone and check messages, social media, even the news, and lose the thread. But I always hope that the next episode will draw me in.

Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Black Elephants (Bison Books, 2011) and Walking A&P (Mascot Books, 2018) and the chapbooks This Woman I Thought I’d Be (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and Vietnam Made Me Who I Am (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction in 2012. Her full poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2007. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Guernica, Lumina, North Dakota Quarterly, Permafrost, RiverSedge, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop. 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.


by Sheila DC Robertson

I walk earth’s edge 
   where sea stitches sand 
   in shells and fragments 
Tiny cenotaphs along wrack lines 
   empty reminders of life 
   marking ephemeral tides
I reflect: What is constant?
   What is temporary?


Standing in lines   
   six feet of separation     
   distance    tension    shortages
Anticipating  breadlines   eviction notices

News oppresses in waves
    exhausted nurses   anti-maskers
The new normal 
    haggard faces of essential workers 
Meat packers   maids   garbage men
Cogs in assembly lines   suffering the virus
Armed resisters   infecting Democracy
Who manipulated the warnings?

Who will gain?    Who will lose?    Nightmares
   mass graves     funeral processions
I lie awake wondering 
   where the next danger lies


As I walk this tracery     I mourn 
       the wrack lines
          of spent life 
          the death of truth
            compassion and caring   
For empty ideals 
   Will there be a Cenotaph?

Sheila DC Robertson seeks beauty off the beaten path in the varied landscapes that define the Northwest. She is happiest wandering the Pacific’s edge or camped out in America’s remotest deserts.  Her articles, stories, and poetry reflect these rich landscapes. They have been printed in publications including Crab Creek ReviewTravel & Leisure Magazine, Trouvaille Review, New Feathers Review,Writer’s in the Attic and North Coast Squid. 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. 

The Gravedigger

by Alexandra Graffeo

A sea of concrete, gray and cracking
Flows beyond the window panes, planters
Full of fledgling sprouts, waiting to push
Through the chill of March and into
April showers, a promise of strength
Built into their twisting stems. The
Sun is strong, and the days are long.
The walls are dark blue and closing in,
Patterns starting to churn and shift. I
Can hear them outside, laughing,
Not knowing what it’s like to be alone,
Unaware of how small the room has
Become. A familiar voice is begging
The gravedigger for a locket of golden
Hair as I lay down in a sea of pillows
and start digging my own holes.
It won’t be long now.

Alexandra Graffeo is a poet and writer from Staten Island, New York. She earned her Master’s in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow, where she focused her studies on female representation in fantasy, with a special emphasis on Arthurian women.  Alex’s poetry and short stories can also be found or is forthcoming in OyeDrum Magazine (where she works as the Managing Editor), The Raven’s PerchDisquiet Arts, and Last Leaves Magazine. 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.

Coming Out of Quarantine (A City Dweller’s Story)

by Cassandra Pereira 

I don’t even care if a dog peed here
I think as I nestle myself
into the base of this tree
making a nest of it
not like a bird
not like a dog
but like a human.

Blades of grass lush around my legs
I get lost in the tiny world they shade
discovering that dear sight—I forgot
how I love it, have missed it:
a broken bit of leaf
     conspicuously on the move.

I’ve read an ant will pilgrimage 
100 yards
      to feed the queen;
2,000 each way I travel today

      to feel the Earth
                   soft beneath
a long journey

a long while beating my feet hard
against all the unyielding concrete
between my door and this moment. 

Cassandra Pereira is a writer, artist, and creativity coach with degrees in creative writing and education, and a background in neuropsychology.  Her work is dedicated to fostering peace and joy through creativity and contemplation. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

‘New Normal’ Catch Up

by Mary Chydiriotis

Saturday night as I prepare for our catch up

cocktail glass enthusiastically stands upright

double shot vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice

a hint of lime     a smoky room

encased in laughter and music (fills my mind from another time)

Alicia Keys sings about leaving Brooklyn and being inspired by bright lights Empire State of Mind

I throw my (never worn) Damson blue pantsuit on the white cotton sheets

an elegant Mikimoto pearl necklace and earrings

mismatched they make for a funky ensemble

twenty-three minutes to seven

I gulp the drink and pour another

months ago an eighteen-dollar Cosmo sufficed

now two for one at bottle shops               free delivery

it’s cocktail paradise                            

hair iron heats

I apply eyeshadow

Mulberry Red lipstick

My bunny soft slippers are on stand by near the laptop

My recent book purchases stacked for show and tell

twelve minutes to seven and my hair still looks frizzy

five minutes to go I get into my outfit, slip on my heels, pour another drink

my hair is as straight as it’s going to get

(I could always use a Snapchat filter)

I enter Zoom, pout and wait for Laura to start the meeting

I hear the whirr of a mini drone outside my window

Mary Chydiriotis lives in Melbourne. In 2019 a selection of Mary’s poems featured in ‘Poetry of the sun and the sea: from Homer to slam poetry’, a Greek Studies course at La Trobe University. Loud and Red, her first collection of poetry, was published by Ginnindera Press in 2020. Viswan Zorba is a stereo composing artist who burnt midnight oil in a Pune film studio for three years, before returning to Kerala to rediscover so many things including its weather and cuisine, alongside developing camaraderie with his father. The duo hit bumpy roads across Kerala in a beat up car, meeting people and filming his father’s meditation tutorials for a YouTube channel, thus exploring his interests in film-making.  

We Drive Nine Hours

by Anne Marie Holwerda Warner 

to the Porcupine Mountains
to camp in mid-nineties heat 
with black flies and no lightning bugs.

Thunder comes the first night but never rain.
Pray for a north wind is the lone consolation of the campground host.

Hiking: attempted, but a weak link sites anxiety and tight shoes while her upper lip sweats, her topknot flops, her braced teeth seethe. She’s hunched over roots of hemlocked foothills. 

There are moose in these woods. But our sighting list includes only five toads, two pollywogs and a cooler-dumping bear that punctures milk, eats plumbs, leaves the pits. 

And yet: that Great Lake—
the chillest, most voluminous—
lives up to her name. Superior. She astounds, astonishes, exceeds all things. 
Tread her clear waves and you’re not cold. You’re alive. Stand still among the bends of textile-esque regality, plumes of her navy blue dress up to your neck and clearly see your toes on the sandy bottom—as if only sun-catching air were between the upper you and the lower you. 

Let her tumbled, earth-toned stones yield pressure against your arches as you stand generously social-distanced while the bone of your bone and the flesh of your flesh balance on an amber-wet driftwood pine trunk and study the lines in a green rock, then a purple rock, then a rock born for skipping. 

This is why you came.

Anne Marie Holwerda Warner is a Chicago carpenter’s daughter perched in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Moonchild, gravel., Q/A Poetry, Ghost City Review and Earth & Altar. Her work is forthcoming in The Hour.  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.

By a Hair from the Tail of a Horse

by Kirsten Morgan

In these Damoclean months
            we have become


skin stretched over a secret we can’t parse.

Does the virus lurk in our geography?

How can we put our feet
            on ground that heaves like broken breath?

Why bother with words
            when our lungs might soon dissolve
            beneath the spider’s bite?

Strung with the glitter
           of prayers and nostrums,
           garlic necklaces
           and witchy midnight chants

we could still turn to ash at any moment,

            each breath a choking,
            each sound a stone.

Kirsten Morgan is a longtime member of Lighthouse Writers in Denver. A graduate of its Poetry Book Project, she writes poetry and memoir, taught writing for many years to children of all ages and founded and taught a program for homeless women in a day shelter. She currently facilitates a weekly writing group and teaches for a lifelong learning program through the University of Denver. Publication journals include Gyroscope, Twyckenham Press, Three Elements Review, Human Touch Journal and others. She’s also busy at work on a “plague journal,” a collection of observations and anecdotes that help maintain her sanity during these months of quarantine. 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.

Impact Events

by Laurinda Lind

One century ago now
pneumonia circled the earth
stealing all the air it could,

a virus that still cycles around
like a comet but it’s evolved,
like the salmon that swim off
sooner since the sea is so warm,

the hemagglutinin of H1N1
with the same crystal structure
as in 1918 but without bombing
the body from the marrow outward.

Did you hear on the news about
the woman who came back from
the hospital at age one hundred
after coronavirus, she’d had the so-
called Spanish flu when she was a baby,

too, enough of them didn’t die that
we can be here now for this rerun
with different RNA replications.
A doctor in my grandmother’s

hometown on the St. Lawrence River
cut the blue lungs out of an almost-dead
man ten decades ago and let fluid
run out of them as if they were a pair
of fish laid out on the table, sewed
them back in, and the guy lived.

A meteor will mow down
whatever it wants, so you might as
well just stay centered in the most
essential space in yourself.

Laurinda Lind quarantines in New York’s North Country. Some publications are in Blue Earth Review, The Cortland Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Spillway; also anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press), What I Hear When Not Listening: Best of The Poetry Shack & Fiction, Vol. I (Sonic Boom), and AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss and Grief (Radix Media). 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.

What to Say

by Talya Jankovits

Three months into the pandemic,
I tried to return the library books, but
there was a tape over the slot,
the sign said no returns accepted.

Thirty books grabbed from the library
the last day it was open
now live with us;
our last connection
to the outside world.

Everything is happening outside of our home.
The five of us are in this together,
(I say five, because Daniel gets to leave.)

I am raising four girls.
I want them to be anti-racist.
I want them to be good people.
I want them to stand up.
And it is all I can do to
get a moment
to go to the bathroom by myself.

I put Mara to bed at the end of the day,
She asks me to read her
Princess Cupcake Jones
By Ylleya Fields.

All day, I am speechless.
I open the book.
For the first time
since this morning,
I know exactly what to say.

Talya Jankovits’ work has appeared in Tablet, Kveller, Bartleby Snopes, Hevria, Lilith, Literary Mama, The Jewish Literary Journal, and The Citron Review, among others. Her short story, “Undone,” in Lunch Ticket was nominated for the 2013 Pushcart prize. Her poem, “A Woman of Valor,” is featured in the 2019/2020 Eshet Hayil exhibit at Hebrew Union College Los Angeles. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and resides in Chicago with her husband and four daughters. 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.