Time in a Time of Pandemic

by Mell McDonnell

Threads and spools 
runs river-like— 
in silver oxbows 

makes moat about the house 

puddles, then 


Overflows moat
floods pool
breaks breakwater
runs, runnels, tunnels under
plunges over
rocks, falls
to maelstrom’s
faster, deeper
sides slick as
oiled glass
deeper, deeper
hang tight
branch, bow.

No, let go.

A feather
floats upward—

here’s Alice’s pool of tears
warm, salty
swim leisurely
in Alice’s company:
the  mouse,
the duck,
the dog,
the dodo.


Up from salt pool,
drops pearl from forearms,
drip from fingertips
to springtime’s garden—
deepest and deeper green—
time’s vine twines,
moves the moment,

warps and bends toward
summer’s reckoning.

Mell McDonnell is a person of several careers–as an instructor in English at the University of New Orleans, as a freelance financial writer, and as marketing/public relations director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, University of Colorado, Boulder.  She is a member of the Denver Women’s Press Club and Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop. Ms. McDonnell’s poetry appears in The Silver Edge (Leaping Berylians Society, Denver), Third Wednesday (Ann Arbor), and The Road Not Taken: The Journal of Formal Poetry. 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.

Things to Do in a Winter Lockdown

in the style of Dan Albergotti’s “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale”

by Tyler Letkeman

Make hot chocolate. Count the icicles that drip from your eaves.
Shovel all the driveways. Makes snow families through four
generations. Create new constellations. Snuggle up warm
in a blanket and dream of running through open space
and warm air. Examine your reflection in a frosted window.
Zoom with family. Cry along with the fading light. Sing
through the long nights. Cut your homework into snowflakes.
Bake your grandma’s cookies. Decorate your tree
with your favourite ornaments. Decorate your heart
with your favourite memories. Listen for the sound
of hoofbeats on your rooftop. Be grateful for the stone
and timbers that shelter you and the waves and wires
that still connect us. Grieve. Grieve for the ghosts of Christmases
past. But remember our present, wrapped up in a box
in the lengthy dark, is a present to ensure future Christmases.

Tyler Letkeman is a husband, father, brother, son, teacher, learner, reader, nerd, artist, scientist, poet, traveller, vacummer, shy guy, and general-life-enjoy-er. He is the creator, editor, and web-master of four lines (4lines.art), a poetry and art magazine that aims to get to the heart of things as simply as possible, and has recently self-published his first collection of poems, Gaia’s New Clothes. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Slowing in the Pandemic

by Karen Keltz

“When we get to the other side of the slog and look back, what will we have contributed, learned, and created?”  Seth Godin 

Some days I feel like a slacker.
I just want to sit in the sun
In my garden amongst the flowers
And read a book,
watch neighbors drive by.

Do I always have to be moving
Like some factory robot?
Might I learn to enjoy quiet beauty
And someone else’s creation?

Weeding my garden,
I uncovered a worm
Which I took to the bench
Below the birdhouse
On my deck,
Where swallows are creating a nest.
When I looked later,
It was gone.
My contribution—
For birds.

Karen Keltz is a former educator, journalist and middle grades novelist, who has won awards for poetry, essays, and screenplay. She lives in Tillamook, Oregon, with her husband and cranky cat. 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 Caitlin Kelley 

Tables and shelves are covered haphazard with mail, 
and books, and plants brought indoors for winter.
The ficus drops leaves in piles and the strawberries, 
potted in a plastic urn, won’t last the month.

Bins of compost and garbage are full or overflowing.
The floor is strewn with dog toys, littered with dust and fur, 
and a rowing machine lives halfway between the living room 
and the dining room. Its cheap, plastic wheels scratch the floor.

In isolation, I struggle to appreciate how warm it is here 
with the heat jacked up to seventy, how the coffee flows 
and so does the wine. How the kitchen is almost always clean,
and my dog wags her tail each time I walk through the door.

Please understand: The hours of cleaning are so soon undone. 
There is always a hair in my mug, dark crud under my nails.
A mouse has nibbled the tomato in the wicker bowl 
and none of us are supposed to leave.

Caitlin Kelley is a librarian. She lives in western Massachusetts with her mutt, Rosie Bee, and has survived the pandemic by growing vegetables, going on long walks, and playing guitar poorly. 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.

Ready to Yes: Covid-19 Vaccine 2020

by Patricia Bollin

I’m looking at YES, this mosaic
of glass, wood and intention
as it tilts slightly toward the light
wanting to arrow its body. 

Each of its capital letters has legs 
of recycled colored glass, perhaps
ready to run out the window
near where just a nail holds it to the wall.

The artist could have gone with MAYBE 
as a doodle and left it unfinished.
Or a plain hard NO of shattered glass.
Did he too have enough of un-yessing

in these long indoor pandemic days,
when no we can’t meet for lunch at Jade 
and maybe if it doesn’t rain a brief walk will work.
So the choice was YES and a mask.

Now we listen as predictable gray skies 
clap for patience. But YES reminds me that soon
closets filled with hanging shirts will open,
arms raised ready to loose all the un-given hugs.

Kisses will fly right to lips and still be moist. 
Yes-smiles will be seen, not shrouded. 
And even weary workers will gladly stand
packed tightly on the subway journey home.

Patricia Bollin lives quietly in Portland Oregon. Her poems have appeared most recently in the anthology Footbridge Above the Falls: Poems by Forty-Eight Northwest Poets, and periodicals including Gyroscope Review, Stirring, a Literary Collection, Passager and Mezzo Cammin. Daniel Morris lives in Portland, Oregon. He plays with broken glass. He also has a doctorate in public health and a masters degree in physics. “I pick up scrap metal and shiny objects on the street. I get scrap wood from my neighbor. My mosaics are products of these ingredients.”

Piss Me Off

by Jack M. Freedman

You’re all alone
but they can all
hear you scream
from their apartments
as you wonder
you can’t find
a single
fast food
you can
use the bathroom

Just so you
don’t have to
hold in your urine
as you realize
that after 8PM
you can’t piss
in the SI Ferry Terminal
or on the boat

So therefore
I am writing a poem
that I know damn well
will never be published
by the local newspaper
I threw shade at
with a previous

that no words
could possibly
do more justice
than a middle finger emoji
that doesn’t even \
do justice
to the message
I want to scream
across the Hudson River

 it reaches
the numbskull
who thought
it was a good idea
to restrict bathroom access
like Sheldon Cooper
and thought urination
wasn’t really
that damn essential

Jack M. Freedman is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. Publications featuring his work span the globe. Under the pseudonym Jacob Moses, he penned …and the willow smiled (Cyberwit, 2019), Art Therapy 101 (Cyberwit, 2019), and Seance (Cyberwit, 2020). 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.

A Covid Test at Christmas

by Stephen Watt

Silent Night

plays on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show
and all car headlights on this motorway
streak off behind me
like belated-fireworks, detonating
in radiating fairy-lit town centres. 

Holy Night

scatters its dancing stars
where planes and sleighs
usually congest airport radars, but

All is calm, all is bright

where stewards in fluorescent jackets
hold signs like hope. Timely smiles
crease behind duck-egg blue masks.
Turn your engine off. Reflect. Relax.
You are safe in our hands.

Round yon virgin Mother and Child

and cone after cone
towards the temporary tents
where the Covid tests unfold.

Holy infant so tender and mild

in the car opposite me, waves
with one stitched teddy bear paw,
sucking on a pacifier like a swab.

Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Stephen Watt lives in Dumbarton, Scotland and is the author of four poetry collections. Previously the Makar for the Federation of Writers (Scotland), Stephen has been the inaugural Poet-in-Residence at Dumbarton Football Club since 2016 and has edited two punk poetry collections on behalf of The Joe Strummer Foundation and Buzzcocks in recent years. 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. 

Wild Light

by Mark Weinrich

We can calculate
the night breaking,
but never
the wild
and reckless moments
of morning’s

In the cages
of our time
we must open up
and leap into
the freedom
of this dazzling

Mark Weinrich is a cancer survivor, a retired pastor, gardener, hiker, and musician. He has had over 420 poems, articles, and short stories published in numerous publications. He has sold eight children’s books and currently has two fantasy novels on Kindle. 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.

Nothing is Happening

by Genevieve Legacy

my dog speaks in toenail clicks,
shifts her weight behind the door,
another patient click—
there’s no such thing as alone,

Himalayan blackberries
invasive stretching,  
reach for more ground,
the meanest thorns
in the neighborhood,

moth white butterfly
crazy wobble flight,
gray fence, black rock wall,
a mailbox squatting across the road,
sticking out its red plastic tongue, 

the holly bush has found a new location,
strident prickle-leaves in silhouette,
imagine the sting,

overgrown cascade of ivy,
a black tank-top woman walker,
a Subaru, a dark escalade,
wild grass shoots where my kid didn’t mow,
it will take my ferocious choppers
to cut it back,

light shifts from gray to less,
blackberry branch bobs green berries
too soon to pluck, an SUV passes
my window on the street side world,
voyeur of the supra mundane,

dry red shrubs across the street,
ginger bush from 1972
my mother’s armpits
a statement of freedom, rebellion?  
my own search for what’s right—
hairy legs & pits, a prolific bush,
earthy sandal shoes—
no one can tell me what to do.

there’s no escape from this house habitat,
20 thousand leagues under the sea,
a Japanese apartment capsule in space,
nowhere to go but the bathroom,
out the window mind wanderer,
black crow line of flight,
straight out of view—

another metallic rolling box,
a dog walking a woman
my dog’s back at the door wondering
where the hell everyone is?

Genevieve Legacy is a writer-artist living in the South Puget Sound Region of Washington State. With an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Legacy was a freelance writer for the alternative weekly publication Jackson Free Press from 2012-2016, writing about jazz and blues musicians, artists, spiritual practice & pilgrimage, restaurants, and rodeo clowns. Her poetry has been published in The Hazmat Review, Napalm Health Spa, Poetry Superhighway, and Sensitive Skin Magazine. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

Labor Day

by Cheryl E. Klein

May 1, 2020

The kids are slipping
and sliding on an inflatable rainbow
our lawn turning to mud.
We have a lawn
and there must always be a pause
for that: our good fortune.

My boss has ideas,
and these too are luxuries
born in her former hunting lodge
in the folds of Laurel Canyon.
She watches mountain lions
on webcams stalk their prey.
She outlines her vision
and speaks of strategy.
I say I’ll try.
Our most famous local lion
crossed two freeways
to get to Griffith Park
and so maybe she believes
in exceptionalism
as much as conservation.

The kids chant their demands
like labor activists
and I suppose that makes me management
delivering Jell-O in plastic bowls
shaky and blood red.

I was pregnant once
but never went into labor.
The years between that unbeating
ultrasound and eventual adoption
created a wild beast in me.
It crossed freeways. It looked back
at the rushing cars and saw
what might have happened.

Our son has formed a union
with the neighbor kids
whose parents are out of work.
The crunch of big-wheel tires
on concrete is the sound of summer.
My boss wants to know
why I am not on top of things.
But it is April, the weather
falsely warm, school falsely canceled.

Our tortoiseshell cat brings roaches
through the dog door at night
watches their antennae twitch
bats them with a curled paw.

Each day I make a list with two sections:
work and life. The kids rule the driveway
between our homes, the border
unenforceable but fraught.
The school opens
only to give out the free lunches
now stacked in orange plastic boxes
on the neighbors’’ kitchen table.

Pfizer donated medication
when our famous mountain lion turned
up pocked with mange. McDonald’s
is donating $250 million
to Black communities
and health care workers.
What is a donation?
What is labor?

My son says, “Mommy, there’s a cockroach”
and I tell him his other mom will get it.
Last night she cut his hair in the kitchen
and nicked his ear. She applied a band-aid
before he saw the blood.
If there had been a mirror
he would have screamed.

Cheryl E. Klein’s column, “Hold it Lightly,” appears monthly(ish) in MUTHA. She is the author of a story collection, The Commuters (City Works Press), and a novel, Lilac Mines (Manic D Press). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Normal School, Blunderbuss, Entropy, Literary Mama, and several anthologies. Her work has been honored by the MacDowell Colony and the Center for Cultural Innovation. By day, she works for the youth writing nonprofit 826LA. 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.