Threads and spools liquifies runs river-like— mercury in silver oxbows circles
makes moat about the house
puddles, then pools
Overflows moat floods pool breaks breakwater runs, runnels, tunnels under hours days weeks months plunges over rocks, falls rivets to maelstrom’s whirl faster, deeper churns: sides slick as oiled glass deeper, deeper hang tight clench 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.
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.
“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 Producing 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— Takeout 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.
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.
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.”
You’re all alone but they can all hear you scream from their apartments as you wonder why you can’t find a single fast food restaurant where 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 Facebook account
Knowing 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
Hoping 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.
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.
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.
We can calculate the night breaking, but never the wild and reckless moments of morning’s jubilation.
In the cages of our time we must open up and leap into the freedom of this dazzling gift.
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.
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 cellphonepressedtoherear, 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 TheHazmat Review, Napalm Health Spa, Poetry Superhighway, and Sensitive Skin Magazine. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.
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’scolumn, “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. Surekhaspent 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.