They all say this year will be written into the history book: Mountain fire, locust, a pandemic that you will not see in a hundred years, Angry crowds, division, violence Death.
Many people lost their lives. Some restaurants, book stores, and cafés may die too, along with the memory attached to them. A friend of mine disappeared out of the blue, while another friend is having a hand-to-hand combat with cancer.
Keep writing and painting on a quiet summer afternoon. Let the flowers, branches and rivers grow. Or take a walk with family and friends, chatting, creating fresh memory to nourish our intertwined roots, and to resist the robbery conducted by time and chance.
Sha Huang was born and grew up in Chengdu, China. She writes, translates and paints. Her poems and translations have been published in multiple literary journals and anthologies in China such as Young writers, Chinese and Western Poetry, Anthology of Chinese Poetry 2019, Thatched Cottage, and Chinese Poetry. She is currently teaching Chinese language and culture at a university in the U.S.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.
The year of Christmas in March we dipped our fingers in sugar and mud and played at creation with cake.
At night we dreamed of slitting our wrists, no blood seeping out, as if from a doll or seeds bred in darkness at Easter: non-sentient snippets of hair, curled fingers dry underground, pink seashells gleaming with poison.
The year of Christmas alone we waited and waited and waited. We looked for the first new blooming of spring.
Federica Santini lives in Atlanta, GA, and teaches at Kennesaw State University. She holds an M.A. from the University of Siena, Italy, and a Ph.D. from UCLA, where she studied poetry and literary translation. A literary critic, poet, and translator, her work has been published in over forty journals and volumes in North America and Europe. Her recent poetry appears in Snapdragon, Plath Profiles, and The Ocotillo Review among others. She is a 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference Fellow (Arizona State University). Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.
until I see the man without a mask at the check-out lane
like a different species
well-dressed firm jaw tan around seventy
so very tall
he radiates a confidence that comes from being saved by myths
a slight smile rests on his exposed face
such sureness dazzles me
he gazes at me hawk-like with half lidded eyes
with a dog’s tilted head I stop and stare
I want to bark to tell him there is danger to take cover but he wouldn’t understand the words through my muzzled mouth
I trot away
I don’t look back
Tracy Donohue is a retired professor of Theatre Arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband Morton Stine. Along with writing, Tracy enjoys kayaking, singing, biking and reading. 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.
We changed my mother’s medicine to placebo. She showed real ailing, true health, until the day she died, still recovering.
“I believe in silver linings.” she said while we dined in our dim room, almost dark, and because I had to say something I moved my lips, “Revolution means circling back to the origin, not changing the origin.”
Freud sat on the third chair. A sparrow brought a grain of grin on my mother’s lips. She ate it.
Kushal Poddar is an author and a father. He edited a magazine, Words Surfacing. He has authored seven volumes including The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Eternity Restoration Project: Selected and New Poems, and Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse, A Prequel. 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.
Saw a romantic comedy I liked and I mentally replay it fabulating in the mist of today’s air that’s straddling two seasons and an airborne pest. The window was open. I read that article about the danger of orchestra flutes that shoot 12-foot columns of laden air along with their trills. About necessary rules in circumstances like this becoming rigidly fixed one nippy March afternoon then remaining in place through winter. About the wild power of nature those straggly persistent yellow flowers stay the same 1980 or 2020 always look like some sort of daisy but refuse to flop to willingly recline so gracious to willingly recline into the side of a hill among the deciduous into your ribcage wearing soft terrycloth nap that flattens on impact but rises again with a good wash to recline into a breeze that lays like warm water on your skin.
Peter Bushyeager’s poems have recently appeared in New American Writing, Local Knowledge, Café Review, Sensitive Skin, Live Mag!, Boog Reader 12, and the anthologies From Somewhere to Nowhere (Autonomedia2017), and SensitiveSkin: Selected Writings 2016-2018. His poetry collections include In the Green Oval and Citadel Luncheonette. He is editor of Wake Me When It’s Over: Selected Poems of Bill Kushner (Talisman House 2018). 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.
What is it about the edge of a lake that feels like a new beginning?
Is it the weeds, lilies, and reeds sprouted from the edgewater their faces uplifted toward the sun necks not yet flattened against the muddied bellies of turtles and alligators, resilient
Or is it the proud chirps and squaws of the herons and other water birds reminiscent of elementary school choirs, each on a different note and rhythm, yet even the angry ones manage to harmonize somehow
Maybe it’s the smell of decaying earth, the matter of all things, a mouthful of sweet and sour symbolic of the cycle— a grounding thing to remind us we are all at the edge of something
Kim Michalak is a Florida-based poet, mother, and optical stylist. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University and is an associate editor at The Fourth River. Her works have appeared in Brushing, Rose Red Review, and Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing. 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.
Lonely is better than sad. Sad weighs so much it changes the contours of a heart. And it’s messy. Very messy. It oozes into spaces
you would least expect, like windows, a bathroom mirror, the closet, the coffee cup, so you cannot always armor up and send it somewhere you’re not going to be, like happy. (Or even mildly pleased.)
Lonely used to have options,
which allowed one to feel close enough to mitigate the silence, but now, behind our masks and/or milling around/nearish the doordash person, we have to take the time to get distracted enough
to lose the scent of grief or despair.
There’s always an app or two or fifty to produce lights/camera/action which short circuit the nervousness that comes with the “s” word. Unless one is an elder or technophobe and only has a flip phone which has limited minutes and apps and arthritic fingers cannot rescue an incoming call or find the place where messages hide. Then, one can always curse at a missing person, and the grey of sad can shift into brown paneled walls of solitude, like those in the library.
Dale M. Tushman‘s writing started with messages in bottles and notes to Santa. She moved up to ardent and (hopefully) articulate political protest letters (an on-going effort), short stories for university publications and eventually a life in New York publishing as a writer/editor and producer of multi-media education products. Her poetry has been well received in both print and on-line journals and now the smallish screen. She has been a psychotherapist for over twenty years. She is a transplanted New Englander now living in southeast Georgia, a place not terribly much touched by modern times, and one of the good things about this buckle-of-the-bible-belt is that it does love its crazy people: She is hardly noticed among the Bougainvilleas and Spanish moss. 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 crow calls after I’ve poured a second cup of coffee. The forest is quiet, aside from Moss Brook, sound
splashing through the open window. Wood frogs left eggs in the pond last night. then went quiet this morning.
That crow was the only bird calling today. No one answered its cry. Have corvids socially isolated, too?
Spring is quieter this year aside from those wood frogs who know how to have a good time.
Right before dusk, they begin to carouse. I almost hear Billy Strayhorn at the piano, and see trays with appetizers
and cocktails passed around the small vernal pool, where passion runs fast and loose down there, just past the garden.
Elaine Reardon is a poet and herbalist. Her first chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, won first honors from Flutter Press in 2016. Her second chapbook, Look Behind You, was published by Flutter Press in late 2019. Most recently Elaine’s poetry and essays have been published by Pensive Journal, Naugatuck Journal, UCLA Journal, and several recent anthologies. 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.
A Bristolian fox stole my wallet My track suit pockets have the bad habit Of expelling their contents on the floor When I get out of the car They’re all I wear now, Since we started working from home I shouldn’t’ve gone out Nipped down to the shop In a moment of weakness I’d quit, but got a hankering I didn’t even tell the missus Knowing she’d tell me not to go She bought me that wallet before we were married You can’t replace memories like that Watching rooftop fireworks hand in hand, Late night Singapore noodles after pints in the pub My license, cards, 80 quid, And the shame of having to tell her I got the fags But lost everything else
I bought that wallet in the tanneries of Fez Watching the men from the balcony of a leather goods shop As they jumped waist-deep in ammonia, salt and dye Swirling the cowhides with long hooks In the before times, when we were allowed to travel I brought back a journal and a necklace for me And a wallet for my sweetheart, at his request He buys the best gifts; I’m forever practical Which is why I bit my tongue, gritted my teeth And told him to cancel his cards That he was lucky his license was lost And not taken by the cops I didn’t need to scold him, it’s just money He’d retraced his steps The car, the walk – the clerk hadn’t seen it And if the junkies outside the gas station found it Then it’s already long gone
Since my husband died, I’ve found great solace in the soil Nurturing the hydrangea, the rose bushes And keeping the ivy at bay I found a wallet in my garden the other day Out in the front while weeding my hedgerows Lo and behold the battered leather appeared Looking like a fox or a dog had got hold of it From the the bitten corners and gnashed banknotes I pride myself on humility and honesty Only opening it to find out to whom it belonged Saw that it was the property of a young man down the road I cleaned myself up, put on a mask and walked to number 67 He looked shocked when I handed it to him Must have been gone a long time He thanked me and slid the battered billfold in his pocket Isn’t it nice when a knock brings good news for a change?
Regina Beach is an American writer based in Bristol, UK. She is most at home pedaling her bicycle or on her yoga mat. The narrators of the three parts of this poem are her husband, herself and the kind old lady down the street who really did return her husband’s wallet. Read more of Regina’s writing and listen to her podcast at ReginaGBeach.com. The photograph that accompanies her poem is her own.
Sun rays against skin, birds chasing half-empty airplanes across mango sunsets into moonlight.
I remember the Idaho sky in fall. I remember Grandpa’s Thanksgiving Day hugs. I remember Thanksgiving.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I haven’t forgotten touch. I haven’t forgotten the impossible warmth radiating from sleeping dogs on winter mornings.
I haven’t forgotten how to feel. Do you remember the day we got married? It was raining and we were happy. It’s raining and we are still happy.
Kendra Nuttall is a copywriter by day and poet by night. Her work has appeared in Spectrum, Capsule Stories, and Chiron Review, among others. She lives in Utah with her husband and poodle. Her debut book, A Statistical Study of Randomness, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. 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.