Seeding a Pandemic

by Carol Casey


Ordering seeds during a pandemic is,
like everything else, complicated
The distributor is overwhelmed

open only to commercial growers.
Try again later, door shut, scarcity panicky
we regroup, find other sources.

Little packets of promise, dry curling 
embryos. Just add water and life quickens, 
becomes spinach, cilantro, dill. 

We prepare the earth for our continuation.



Carol Casey lives in Blyth, Ontario, Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and had appeared in The Prairie Journal, Sublunary Review, Cacti Fur, Plum Tree Tavern, and others, including a number of anthologies, most recently, Tending the Fire and i am what becomes of a broken branch. 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. 

We’ll Understand by Winter

by Beth Weinstock


In this case, my daughter and I
had no other way down but the shovel, the digging alone
and the wind-battered craving of color.

All that mattered on the lake’s shore
were the plastic bucket and the squinting for beach glass—
all that we sifted, held up

into the morning’s late light
were the beveled blue remains of bottles, speckled rocks, scraps of trash.
Next month she’ll turn thirteen,

and we’ll return home to wait inside,
to frame the V of fugitive geese into our frosted windows.
Come December under the slate of snow

we’ll dream of wobbling, of grey stones
licked smooth by freshwater tongues,and we’ll roll the brack
of that summer to the back of our mouths;

we’ll remember when we stood
on Lake Erie while a virus painted white circles on the grass
to keep the people apart. Nothing

was more uneasy than an emptied beach
and our bare feet in dug-out holes. Where she stood as thin
and unadorned as the winter sapling

that yearns for more sun.We were advised
to cover our mouths, trusted to twist our fingers like keys
into the earth and the closer my daughter came

to the secrets inside, the more the sand salivated
for the bronze body of her youth. The more it kept forcing itself
upon her. We’ll understand by winter,

won’t we, that this is the way people think,
when the excavation of earth and the rules for assembling
have changed.Someday I’ll show her

the picture I took, the curls splashing
from her bun around her stone-shaped face, her twelve-year body tanned,
her sandy feet entirely bound

by the craters we dug. The clouds
then as now unleashed like indignant animals and the sharp
green glass of that emptied beach.



Beth Weinstock is a physician and poet in Columbus, Ohio. She recently completed her MFA in Poetry from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She currently practices medicine part-time, and teaches poetry to veterans, medical students, and at the Franklin County Correctional Institution. She has published previously in South Florida Poetry Journal, Headline Poetry and Press, and Harpur Palate. 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.

Square Dance

by Valyntina Grenier


No other over you for the climate fire to end this whorl in wonder desire w/ our life’s great fortune confounded by virus/ police violence cancel the rocket spread out the world weary sheet again over our brains/ banners/ bones Nirvana wins our hearts twin the hypotenuse to a new song on the radio we in wonder will we go with our lucky love north to Portland to the Oregon coast pure color/ halcyon tide/ silence/ freedom from heat wave of Chaos feast



Valyntina Grenier is an LGBTQIA+ multi-genre artist living in Tucson, Arizona. Her work has appeared in Sunspot Literary Journal, High Shelf Press, Lana Turner, JuxtaProse, and Bat City Review. Her tête-bêche chapbook Fever Dream / Take Heart, was published by Cathexis Northwest Press, January 2020. Find her also on Instagram. Her artwork that accompanies her poem is entitled “Particle Air/ Negative Cloud.”

The Unbearable Lightness of Seed Pods

by Mikki Aronoff


A drizzle of pale green. Paper-thin globes 
float to ground — so light the branches don’t lift 

from their absence. I wait, then pick one up, 
feel the lack of heft my eyes already measured. 

So many have departed this tree. More to tumble
when weather wreaks its windy tricks and twists.

They say a soul weighs 21 grams. This hot summer 
day, more untether from the world. A half million 

now adrift — impossible to consider. We flounder
for remedy, work fast, wave our wands. Beetles

the color of checkerboards stream, wait piggy-
back for the bounty to dry, to spill its hard seed.



Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared in The Lake, EastLit, Virga, Bearing the Mask: Southwest Persona Poems, Love’s Executive Order, bosque9, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, SurVision, Love Like Salt, London Reader, Popshot Quarterly, and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet and Pushcart nominee, she is also involved in animal advocacy. 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.

Expectations

by Sarah Rejoice Brown


Expecting the unachievable
In light of the unbelievable
We alter our days
In previously inconceivable ways
We hold out hope for a return
Of the ways we used to learn
Of the ways we used to operate
Without stopping to appreciate
That it may take a gradual shift
To even mend the rift
Caused by a pandemic
Many aspects of which are systemic
That haven’t been addressed
Much less even confessed
But I digress
And return to clean up the mess
Made by my quarantined offspring



Sarah Rejoice Brown specializes in poeticizing daily life for sanity’s sake. By day, she communicates, conspires, and collaborates as a nonprofit consultant, director, and editor. By night, she attempts to cultivate a love of literature and rhyme in her five-year old. Her writing is heavily informed by her racial justice activism and concern for the rights and future of her multiracial family. She lives and writes in the mountains and valleys of northwest Vermont, where you are likely to find her making the rounds of library book sales. She is currently working on a children’s book centered on a girl whose love for reading the dictionary forever changes the course of her life. Eva Mantell is looking at the unlikely suitability of everyday materials as potential art materials — paralleling the unlikely possibility of forms in nature. Find her also at @greenworldx2.

Incubation

by Annette Gagliardi


You don’t know me, but my world hangs 
in a green suspension of color and texture
like liquid light through colored glass.  

My skin crawls with the viral energy
that makes you scratch and claw,
with the itching getting noxious—

damaging flesh in its pernicious
influence as my mind rises toward
its determined division—one half

negating the other, until there is nothing
left to celebrate here. Yet, I am ALIVE
with venom oozing in pores from head to toe, 

I breathe as you breathe, inhalations
that linger and lounge in the last lamentations
of your night, leaving you gasping—breathless.

Here, let me shake your hand. Let me
embrace you as my lover. Let us lie down
together and create new diseases.


Annette Gagliardi has poetry published in Genre: Urban Arts No. 8- Print, Southwest Journal, Summer & fall 2019, Dreamers Creative Writing Online and in their Year 1 Anthology, Down in the Dirt Online MagazineTrouble Among the Stars, Issue#2, Poetry Quarterly, the Poetic Bond VIII & IX. She has work in the League of Minnesota’s The Moccasin, the South Dakota State Poetry society’s Pasque Petals and in Arizona State Poetry Society’s Sandpiper. Annette is a contributor and one of two editors for the anthology, Upon Waking: 58 Voices Speaking Out from the Shadow of Abuse. She is passionate about chocolate, loves gardening, serving tea, and serving chocolate tea in her garden. 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.

At the Church of the Holy Pajamas

by Mary Ellen Talley


I used to be tethered 
to my 9-volt transistor radio
unless chanting Latin inside a tall church
where I entered
through wooden doors
to wet my fingers for the sign of the cross

This morning, the kitchen timer chimes
to join chorus with birds
celebrating cleaner Covid-breezes
until hymns spread 
gigabytes of holy hope  
from screen to screen including mine 

I ask my laptop 
for one more prayer 
to help me retain this app of gratitude
as I exit church listening
to a choir of robins
outside my open window.



Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have recently been published in Raven Chronicles, Banshee, What Rough Beast, Flatbush Review and Ekphrastic Review as well as in the anthologies, Chrysanthemum and Ice Cream Poems. Her poems have received two Pushcart nominations and a chapbook, Postcards from the Lilac City, has just been published by Finishing Line Press. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

New Pens

by Victoria Crawford and George R. Ross


New pens, new pens came in the post!
desired cartridges colored rainbow
just when I’m an isolation ghost,
bright writing created to glow

Old fashioned fountain pens I’d bought
new pens, new pens came in the post!
Stay-At-Home delay, I forgot
they arrived when needed the most

Package and bubble wrap engrossed
dull day surprise striptease unwrap—
new pens, new pens came in the post—
like treasure spread across my lap

Colors and words dance in my mind
solitary, joy uppermost
letters, poems, beauty filled time
new pens, new pens came in the post!



Victoria Crawford and George R. Ross, strangers retiring in Thailand, met in a poetry appreciation and writing group and became collaborative poets that have had their works published in journals such as Pensive Stories, Braided Way, Cold Noon, and Active Muse. George returned to his family and now lives in Boston, MA, while Victoria is still in Chiang Mai with her husband and other family. Their partnership continues through email. Older with pre-existing conditions, both spent months in isolation and lockdown, where poetry was a guide to the possible. This poem appeared previously in Highland Park Poetry’s Poem a Day in November Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Daddy, how did you do your part back then?

by S. B. Fields


Well son, your old man was stationed
at his bleach-stained futon for months.
Armed with just a cheap bong and an X-box.

We rationed our ramen
and toiled paper. Unsure of when
we’d escape this bunker of ours.

Dorito dust
soaked the air like gas
with beer cans flying like shrapnel.

And I didn’t bathe for weeks.
War is hell.



S. B. Fields is a freelance copywriter in Brooklyn. You can find his work in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans as well as recycle bins across NYC. Ever the crippling extrovert, Fields spends his nights at the local corner pub perfecting his upcoming chapbook, Sleeping Sun. See more of his work on Instagram @SBFieldsPoetry. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Springtime

by Larry Oakner


“In a world gone mad, there are still ducklings,”
someone posted on the Internet
for a video of dabbling birds paddling in a mossy pond,
dunking for bugs and greens.

Being Spring, the robins are back
eyeing the lawn for worms,
pausing momentarily to look at me, as if to say:
“Hey, I’m eating here, what do you want?”

Outside our bedroom window,
a sparrow couple has moved into an old nest
in the blossoming cherry tree,
formerly occupied by a squirrel family.

The normality of the season ignores
the virus of deaths scourging the world,
reminding us that we are here
for Planck’s time, the smallest measure
for light to travel the shortest distance,
the same light that wakes me every morning.


Larry Oakner is the author of SEX LOVE RELIGION and The 614thCommandment, along with a chapbook, Sitting Still. His recent work appears in Red Eft Review, WINK, The Oddville Press, as well in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Tricycle: Buddhist News, and Lost Coast Review, among others. He runs a Poetry Zoom online with a group of poets. Oakner received his M.A. in Creative Writing from UCLA. 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.