World Gone Crazy

by Yvona Fast

Headlines scream

            war, missiles,

                        fires, floods,

                                    mourners, martyrs …

            The world has gone crazy.


            peaceful woods beckon.

On the horizon

            words call.

Reading, reaching,      grasping,

            I run towards sunset.

Shutting out politics

            I stare at a blank page.

Yvona Fast’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. She’s the author of three poetry chapbooks, three nonfiction books, a weekly food column and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. 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.

Fifth Floor, Assisted Living

by Debbie Collins

she’d cut her hair with the tiny bathroom scissors again

it was spiked into some crazy birdlike fluff like the ducklings 
making their way to the pond through the parking lot

she watches them from her window 
and makes clucking sounds with her tongue

where have you been, she pleaded with me

words like quarantine and isolation made her wince 
with remembering and pain

Charles passed on, she said quietly, 
not meeting my eyes

we lost four on our floor altogether she said,
studying the parking lot

put on your mask, I say, let’s get out of here – 
the sun is glorious today

finally, finally she can feel the sun on her face, 
and we’re both, just for now, 
wrapped in a daydream

Debbie Collins lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia. She has been published in Third Wednesday, antinarrative, and Flatbush Review, among others. Her first book, he says i’m fierce, was just released by Finishing Line Press. Jim Baron is the owner, with his wife Liz, of the Dallas-based Blue Mesa Grill restaurants and TNT/Tacos and Tequila. He’s been a surf bum all his life, with his late brother Bob and younger brother Dan. He spends a couple hours every day painting water colors, and happiness for him is being on the beach with Liz, Kate, Zak, Ian, and Lola, the labradoodle, who runs the show.

Live Life Like A Thin Man Movie

by Matthew Peluso

Look at us!

Mask-wearing isolationists, plague survivors

Virtual reality dwellers, afraid of basic human interaction

Living in a world where Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head

Are deconstructed like Derrida on a bad identity politics trip    

How Nick and Nora would mock us, rightly

Mugs . . . lummocks, they’d call us

They had to live life in a convoluted and impossible story-line

So incomprehensible that even Hammett’s denouements could only be ludicrous 

No wonder they started the day with a whiskey or rye (booze, not bread)

And needed at least 30 or more of the same throughout the day

Before switching to endless cocktails and champagne later

With all the everchanging fall guys, saps and stool-pigeons

Being set-up, or beaten into false confessions by flat-foots   

Eventually bumped-off by monosyllabic fat guys in double-breasted suits

To the eternal disappointment of some diminutive, sarcastic 80-lb broad

Quick of jaw, and with a smack or kick to get her point across

Bemoaning her falling (again) for such a stupid gorilla, ape or lug

Yet, no caving-in to yoga or lounge paints for those mouthy sisters

They were always perfectly made-up and coiffed, regardless of plot-surprises

Dolled up in formal evening gowns, furs and a bizarre assortment of hats

Whether in bed, or constantly sashaying around the hotel suite  

Hosting impromptu parties with dozens of uninvited, disparate guests

Before heading out to the same club in every city, open all hours

That always had a 50-piece band fronted by some as-of-yet unfamous singer

Completely ignored by the couple thousand people jammed into the joint

Chain-smoking non-filter cigarettes and talking non-stop over each other

Until they hit the dance floor, cheek-to-cheek, but still wise-cracking to

Their tuxedo-wearing, pencil-thin mustached fellas with Brilliantine-slicked hair

Matthew Peluso is a civil rights attorney and poet based in Princeton, New Jersey. His poetry is inspired by the discriminated and marginalized people he represents. His poems have appeared in the Opiate Magazine, Roanoke Review, Waterways: Poetry In The Mainstream, the Wilderness House Literary Review and Stoneboat Literary Journal. 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.

Children of Hotel Venecia in Kyiv!

by Nilofar Shidmher

Fifty-thousand-dollar babies
born out of rented wombs
of women who after
receiving their money have
happily gone home.

Their affluent foreign mothers are still
in their own countries, quarantined
in their homes with
their spouses, waiting
for the end of the pandemic.

The children are in the care of nurses
who are yearning to be with
their own children and sleep
beside their spouses,
not alone in this five-star boutique hotel.

Every night, the nurses kneel
by their beds, leaning on the cold
sheets, facing the wall,
and cross themselves, praying to God
to rid them from COVID 19 and these

nobody’s children!

Nilofar Shidmher, PhD, MFA, is a bilingual writer, poet, creative writing-informed research scholar, and educator. She is the author of two collections of short fiction and five books of poetry in English and Persian. Her first poetry book in English, Shirin and Salt Man, was nominated for a British Columbia Book-Prize. Her latest fiction book, Divided Loyalties, has received many positive reviews. She has served three times as a Writer-in-Residence in different cities across Canada, the last of which was with McMaster University and Hamilton Public Library. Dr. Shidmher teaches in the Continuing Education Program at Simon Fraser University. 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.  


by Dan Brook

conscious of breathing
deeply in and slowly out
each cycle
both a beginning Big Bang
and an eventual Black Hole
each cycle
timelessly repeated
by us and others
breathing in
the sweep of ancient history
breathing out
the tug of future possibilities
exchanging energy and vapor and hope
with whales and willow trees
with dinosaurs and dandelions
with our ancestors and descendants
the rhythmic ebb and flow of worldly waters
the cyclical orbits of each one of us
around all others
through the many miracles
of co-evolutionary development
the terrestrial dance of flora and fauna
breathing each other
into continued existence
our cells
and the many cells of many others
temporarily inhabiting us
each one of those
microscopic bits of us
temporarily housing
the galactic scatter of stars
and the remnants of primordial slime
as the vast oceans
the dust, debris, and detritus
as well as the raw and basic ingredients
of life’s vaster cosmic journey
on this small, remote, inconsequential, fragile
albeit spectacularly beautiful bluish planet
where only the concept of infinity
is infinite
and where the only meaning of life
is the meaning we create in life
with each conscious breath
deeply in and slowly out

Dan Brook teaches in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University in California, from where he organizes the Hands on Thailand program. His most recent book of poetry is Sweet Nothings. Nancy Andrews is an artist living outside of Philadelphia. Self taught in photography, she has been perfecting her images for over 15 years. Her subjects include abstracts, images inspired by nature, and observations of the world around her. Along with photography, she spends her days teaching art to little ones, playing ukulele and romping with her two little pups.

Apocalypse dreams day two

by Eric Hayward

Probably all of us have these
I can’t see your skull but I’m pretty sure
there’s a space for the end of the world
built into every human brain, and
of course it opens up wider every night
when all the vessels vasodilate
to shepherd in the floods of bloods

This dream was about the Pope
getting sucked into a sudden
swirling sinkhole in
the center of the sea

The next morning I woke up at 5
to beat the toilet paper lines 
and gather my family 
to plan for catastrophe

Eric Hayward is a professional health care writer and acupuncturist. Like many, he was swept along last April by an early wave of worldwide layoffs. He has since landed upright again, and looking back over the past year’s writings, was surprised by how many of his normally non-topical poems were touched off by the pandemic. Eric writes fiction and poetry from his adopted home in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he lives shoulder-to-shoulder with his wife, teenaged children, and a normally out-of-state college student, all of them working and studying from home. 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 Spoon Rest

by Marjorie Thomsen

   to my daughter

It was the simple act of your 16-year-old self
putting the spoon on a spoon rest, a beauty of a spoon rest— 
blue with sagebrush green swirls, 
bought in Jerusalem long before you were born.
The spoon was still slathered with creamy 
peanut butter for the cookies you were baking
(you knew you couldn’t lick the spoon in these times). 
It was that one act of seeing you place the spoon 
to rest, to reside in something sturdy, clean, blue—made exclusively to hold it.
You sensed the spoon might be needed later for further stirring. 
That’s when I knew that if I died soon 
you would be okay. 
You had taken something of me into some place in you
sort of like a spoon to a spoon rest.

Marjorie Thomsen loves teaching others how to play with words and live more poetically in the world. She is the author of “Pretty Things Please” (Turning Point, 2016). Two poems from this collection were read on The Writer’s Almanac. One of Marjorie’s poems about hiking in a dress and high heels was made into a short animated film. She has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is the recipient of poetry awards from the University of Iowa School of Social Work, Poetica Magazine, and others. Publications include Pangyrus, Rattle, SWWIM, and Tupelo Quarterly. Marjorie has been a Poet in Residence in schools throughout New England. She is a psychotherapist and instructor at Boston University’s School of Social Work. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

The Doldrums

by Kim Klugh

I’ve slipped from my moorings

not knowing whether I’m coming or going.

I’m stuck more or less in neutral, at best.

I’m stranded and numb, not knowing or caring

about what’s to come. My momentum’s

been lost so I turn and I toss.

With no wind in my sail I flail

as if drowning. I’m not coming or going–

I’m caught in the doldrums.

Adrift, at loose ends, I float

through the same day

again and again.

Kim Klugh is an English/writing tutor. Her poetry has been published on Vox Poetica and Verse Virtual. Several of her poems have appeared in two craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet and The Crafty Poet II. Her haiku has been published by her local paper in Lancaster, PA. She was also a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition community poem for Ahmaud Arbery, “Running for Your Life,” in May 2020. Nancy Andrews is an artist living outside of Philadelphia. Self taught in photography, she has been perfecting her images for over 15 years. Her subjects include abstracts, images inspired by nature, and observations of the world around her. Along with photography, she spends her days teaching art to little ones, playing ukulele and romping with her two little pups.

The Last Time

by Edward Harkness

It happened on the pier, your back against a railing, masts of several sloops
to your right, topped with their colored flags, the sea behind and to your left—

a warped sheet of tin. As proof it really happened, your friend took a picture
just before I stepped forward toward your opened arms, my face mirrored

in your snazzy sunglasses, your hair in long silver braids—as if such proof
would reveal the moment before the moment the world changed.

We were never lovers, lovers only in the sense of love for those scalable,
sometimes reachable, imagined summits we ascend in the silent odd hours.

That step toward your arms meant we were old friends, heart friends.
I introduced you to my true love, who hugged you, and to my son, who,

with baby in a chest-carrier, hugged you. Steam, I recall, rose from planks
laid out, you’d mentioned, during the pandemic of 1918, the tar softened,

sun-warmed after a morning squall. A man chomping a cigar stub walked by,
pushing a wheelbarrow of oysters. His red rubber boots glistened. In our plague,

to save each other, we mask ourselves, we do not hug. That distant moment
marked the last time, on that pier, your face in full sun, your back against a railing.

Edward Harkness is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary, Beautiful Passing Lives, and most recently, The Law of the Unforeseen (2018, Pleasure Boat Studio press). His poems can be found online in 2River, Atticus Review, Cascadia Review, The Good Men Project, Hinchas de Poesia, The Humanist, Rat’s Ass Journal, Raven Chronicles, Salt River Review, Split Lip Magazine, Switched-On Gutenberg and Terrain.Org., as well as in print journals including, most recently, Chariton Review and Miramar. His chapbook, Ice Children, was published by Split Lip Press in 2014. He lives in Shoreline, Washington.  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.