Safe Distance

by Cathleen Cohen

We kneel yards apart,
my granddaughter and I,
pulling weeds.

She names each leaf  
in her lap, leaf
on the pile, leaf.

Delighted by sound, she offers
this feast to her doll and to me, guests
at her table, this wide green lawn.

Noting birds riding wind, she cries red!
Red bird, Cardinal, I expand,
feathering her nest of words.

Nearby her brother studies anthills,
intrigued by their patient construction.
He’s building his own den of pebbles and sticks.

Quick! The children crawl under hedges
that bend to embrace them.
As I can’t.

Six feet of love.
They lift arms for kisses
I can’t give them.

We mime air hugs, gestures
towards each other, towards
the wind and voyaging clouds.

But as we return
to where their watchful mother stands,
they grab my fingers.      

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia. Her poems appear in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, North of Oxford, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review, Rogue Agent, Camera Obscura (Moonstone Press, 2017) and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press, forthcoming 2021). She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy. Her artwork is on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery. The art that accompanies this poem is her own.


Dystopian Times

by MW Murphy

A Professor at my school

         has the virus

came in email

         last night

 take cover

 stay home.

In newly cloistered world

feel the crevices

the refractions of light

take joy in first greenings

         early spring

mourn still moist base of tree

         newly cut

amidst sun’s slowly warming rays


         against dystopian times.

Feel feel it all

         anger pain love

then ensconced alone

at keyboard

creating calm

followed by tensions


even lost in moments


MW Murphy writes both fiction and poetry. She has a short piece of fiction in the anthology Gathered Light (Three O’Clock Press, 2013) and another in the anthology A Shadow Map (CCM, 2017). She has poems in the international poetry anthology series The Art of Being Human (2015) as well as We Are Beat – the “National Beat Poetry Foundation Anthology” (Local Gems Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in online poetry mags Breadcrumbs Magazine (2020) and Yes Poetry (2020).  In addition, MW has been a featured poet, and has done readings from her fiction at various bookstores, coffee houses, libraries, and community parks. She recently completed an urban fantasy novel The Girl in the Bookstore. 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.


by Shikha S. Lamba

I read somewhere the earth is vibrating less.

Could it be that we caused the earth to move and pulse to a beat unnatural?

With our heavy trucks and pleasant long drives 
drilling for black oil to further fuel our desires.

Did we cause vibrations where none were supposed to exist?

The smooth spin of the axis already weighed down with
changing seasons, the skies drier and yet pouring down harder.

So why the surprise when she pushes to reset?

To calm her waves and clean her air 
to build her rain and grow her skin green again.

Why should we be surprised she chose to heal?

The wounds we caused with gaping holes
pounding a thousand revolutions drilling to her core.

Why then should it surprise us when she had us fooled?

As our eyes stayed glued to seismographs and ritcher scales
monitoring, observing, confident in our false security.

 And why should we be surprised when she chose to play fair?

Making us close the very door we built to stay apart,
breathing free at last as we struggle for air.

Shikha S. Lamba is originally from New Delhi India and is currently residing in Hong Kong for the past 15 years. A jewelry designer and gemologist, she runs a small business under the name Shikha S. Lamba Designs. She is also the co-editor at Coffee and Conversations, an online magazine. An avid reader, she loves writing poetry and is passionate about art and photography. She has published numerous articles and poems for various publications in Hong Kong, India and the US. 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.

Year of the Rat

by Heather Bourbeau

Before, I would seek comfort in Chinatown crowds.
Hong Kong milk tea, red bean swirls.
Elderly Chinese sharing news or jokes,
eating green onion twists, moon cakes,
drinking strong pekoe, weak coffee,
ignoring or welcoming me.

We were pressed close enough to feel
breath, hear secrets, smell the odor of long work
mixed with rising yeast, baking sugar,
to see the rough and grace of aging skin,
and welcome the ripple of another language
flowing over and through me in a faint promise
of understanding by osmosis.

I have not touched another human in five weeks.
I walk paths worn by new habits, alone or abreast,
two meters, two meters.
My heart has learned to calibrate hope, my mind
to avoid a longing, collective and deep,
to eat like lions and sleep like wolves. 

Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly ReviewCleaver, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She is the winner of La Piccioletta Barca’s inaugural competition and the Chapman University Flash Fiction winner, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been featured in several anthologies, including America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience and Respect: Poems About Detroit Music (Michigan State University Press). Monarch is her poetic memoir of overlooked histories from her American West (CA, NV, OR, and WA). 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.


by Marjorie Maddox

             –May 2020

“Time out!”
says the young mother to the toddler
too loudly,
pretending a scream is not a scream.

The small girl stands in a corner
crowded with fear. She flails her arms,
then settles her tear-streaked face
into a pout.

            Outside, the sun dazzles
without her.

It is her mother she hates,
the one digging now through the kitchen trash,
what’s left of the mask soiled with coffee grounds,
Elmo safety scissors hidden deeper yet
beneath the last egg shells, the empty carton of milk.

Outside, the sun dazzles
without them.

The mother cuts her finger
on a discarded can. The daughter wails.
Someone is screeching, “Out! Out! Out!”
She is/is not the child. She is/is not the mom.
Outside the sun.
Without them.

Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist Children’s Educational Category 2020 International Book Awards) and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in PoetryI’m Feeling Blue, Too!; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Forthcoming in 2021 is her book Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press), as well as her ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts). For more information, please see 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.    

Dying Gardenia

by Carla Sameth

Talk to no one
about what goes on, the gardener
senses your hurt goes beyond
the dying gardenia. The jacaranda
that refuses to flower,
lemon tree that will not
bear fruit. Tell yourself,
it’s not a child,
a husband or wife. Still,
you feel the loss,
of scent and taste, a sign
of what?

Most poems in these earlier
pandemic days feature viruses,
breathing, bread,
and 7 pm cheers. Partying crowds
no distance. Like the LAPD.
No mask, travel in packs,
not protecting, not serving.

But the birds,
if it weren’t for them, hummingbirds
darting over Bird of Paradise, the noisy
ones like the wild parrots, silence
would fill your heart.

Oyster shell filled with emptiness,
missing pearls. Hold your belly
where you feel loved ones.
Touch your heart,
imagine ragged edges,
fissures like angel hair pasta
and fireworks. Gum
stuck under the table, landed
in your hair when you crawled there
looking for company.

Many hours I draft, trickle away
untended like the wilted
gardenia, left hot,
thirsting for days,
then drowning, spent.
I simply cease
to talk, stifled by need
to see your face,
touch your lips,
speak to you

Carla Sameth’s memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, was published in 2019. Her work on blended/unblended, queer, biracial and single parenting appears in The Rumpus, MUTHA Magazine, Brain,Child, Narratively, Longreads, Brevity Blog, Entropy, Full Grown People, Angels Flight Literary West and The Nervous Breakdown. Carla’s essay, “If This Is So, Why Am I?” was selected as a notable for the 2019 Best American Essays. Her chapbook, What is Left is forthcoming (November 2021) with Dancing Girl Press. A Pasadena Rose Poet, a Pride Poet with West Hollywood, and a former PEN in The Community Teaching Artist, she teaches creative writing to high school and university students, and to incarcerated youth. Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice

Give and Take

by Tracy Thompson

Forsythia opens the show,
bursting slicker yellow and bowing out just in time for the main act.
Single-stemmed tulips and daffs, delicate Japanese maples in their cabernet kimonos. Magnolia trees this far north.
63,000 dead.
Dandelions refusing to be directed.
Cherry blossoms, dogwoods, crab apples, red maples,
highbush cranberry, white birch.
Weeping willow needs no introduction.
82,000 dead.
Hardy hosta appearing from nothing, resumes its place on the property line, unfurling verdant.
Azalea’s choreographed opening number, making their entrance like the Rockettes, colors that only belong in nature, stunning.
Lilies of the valley humbled by the showgirls, but sure of their beauty still,
apologize for taking up space.
Lilac provides the fragrant encore,
making a brief appearance to usher in the summer stock.
100,000 dead.
And counting.

Tracy L. Thompson, a resident of Schenectady, NY, writes from her dining room table while her dogs beg for her attention. She is a member of the Poets of Pyramid Lake, and hopes to return to continue honing her craft when the world re-opens. Her poem, One Does Not Love Breathing, is slated for publication by Welter in celebration of this, their 55th year. She is currently working on a novel, Where You’ll Find Me. Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice

The Shadow Breaker’s Song

by Michael H. Brownstein

I will wait for the sun to make it’s way up the stairs.
Then I’ll enter the place of underachievers, liars and thieves.
Where else can defiance be so simple?

Once she lied about water.
Twice she lied about silk.
No one waited for a third time.

The house of shadow glows with a light within shade.
Lost value finds itself on its shelves among the many books.
When the moon escapes its cage, this is where it comes for safekeeping.

Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019), were recently released (Cholla Needles Press). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

The Mask’s Weight

by Amanda Anastasi

It is not the mask that restricts you.
This thin covering of cloth

may slightly dampen the tenor
and reverberation of your voice

and cloak the creases around
your smiling or pursed mouth

and leave just your eyes to say it all.
It is reminding you of the ever

present gag you nod yes to daily
and weave your life through

and around; that invisible hand 
upon your mouth, propped up

and fixed in place by your own.
There are ample spaces between

for self-expression, making
the window bars more tolerable

and almost appear as though
they are not actually there.

You must realise now
and perhaps you always have

that a bird can remain in its cage
when the door has been left

open for hours. You are
and always have been free.

Amanda Anastasi is an Australian poet living in Melbourne who has been published in journals both locally and internationally, from the Australian Poetry Anthology to The Massachusetts Review. Her debut poetry collection is 2012 and other poems and she is also the co-author of The Silences with Robbie Coburn (Eaglemont Press, 2016). Amanda is a two-time winner of the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and recipient of a 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. She is currently Poet in Residence at the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub until 2022, where she is writing poetry to raise awareness on ecological issues and the climate crisis. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.


by Lori Corry

The way it breaks is the way it was,
first it pops then it explodes
shattered glass streaming all around 
like covid, shattered glass like covid,
like covid, like the shards you cannot see
streaming all around like sparklers

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear

on the fourth of July.
Broken systems, broken life
cleaning it all up takes discipline,
takes a broom, takes a dustpan, takes a vacuum,
takes a fricking lot of time
to clear your life of invisible threats.
Do not let them tell you it’s not real.
Do not let them tell you its all in your imagination

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear.

Hold on to your broken heart tightly, so tightly
until it mends itself restored, resurrected,
repaired. Find the golden glue,
find the red thread, sew it all up again,
then stop, take a breath, make 
yourself a beautifully truthful mask.

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear.

Lori Corry is a year-round resident of Nantucket Island, MA. She spends time investigating feminine divine energies and gaining creative inspiration from the stories and myths of our world’s many goddesses. Her poetry has been published in Chronogram Magazine, the Lily Poetry Review, and previously on Global Poemic. 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.