Gagging

by Maeve McKenna


Suppose there is no evidence
of your time here, & minutes are clots

on the brain. You babble, tell who’ll listen
you once lived — stewed apples, gazed

at your passport, wore masks, incited
self-harm. A wolf, a kitten, many caged

birds, all the desperate animals
who lived inside your wilderness.

Suppose hostages dream
of prisons only when handcuffs

chaff, in their wet beds, the nauseous
sweating. So you dissect eyes,

sever smiles, stare at the broken
body for proof, matted fur gagging

in your mouth, coagulated blood
like tapestry on the carpet.



Maeve McKenna lives among trees in rural Ireland. Her writing has been placed in several international competitions, published in Mslexia, Culture Matters, Orbis, Ofi Press, Fly On The Wall, San Antonio Review and many others. Her poetry is published widely online. She was a finalist in the Eavan Boland Mentoring Award 2021, and has work forthcoming in Channel Magazine, Marble Poetry and Black Bough Poetry. Only the trees know Maeve is working towards her first collection of poetry. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Lockdown

by Jyoti Nair


Another smouldering day
Some inflamed breakfast porridge
Some simmering enraged lentils
Served alongside, some meek bland rice
Thrusted into our gullets
Our destinies applauded, not one morsel should be wasted
Chosen mortals, greater mortals! 
We are! Cower in gratitude! 
“Even to almighty’s chagrin, those migrants have been eye sores… “
Some rebukes stirred into the air
“But now they have footwear, special trains being released…”
Some patronizing splashes, tainted electronic tabloid’s face
Incessantly, some opinions, shoved and jostled, in most homes
Amidst some resentment, ruminated by many, during nights 
Only to be callously spit, with some toothpaste, the next morning



The quintessential transformation evangelist, Jyoti Nair has acquired professional prowess in the capability development and project management gamut, incessantly catering to rapidly diversifying business needs. She spearheads multiple operations for L & D and Quality Assurance, spanning HR and Recruitment, for an Indian multinational technology company. She finds the process of writing therapeutic and nurtures the poetry raiment as her second skin. Her works feature in numerous global poetry anthologies and distinguished poetry journals, and she has won many accolades for her literary pursuits. However, she cherishes her solitary quill and fervently whets her pen in stoic resilience.  Subhasree Soorya is busy every day with classical dance lessons, music, painting, and mural art alongside shooting videos for social media. This 22-year-old final year BCom student sits in the evening on the long veranda of her ancestral home in Mahe, India and weaves her dreams of becoming a noted artist someday.    

THE BEASTS

By Meg Files


The creatures, clothed and unclothed, are in the ruins —
yes and the tango skeletons naked beneath gossamer —
here they are in the world with us sequestered. They
will inhabit our stadiums, the band shells, a cabana —
it’s not that before they were afraid but uncurious —
and now caped antelope, the furred wild turkey, a
gowned coyote wander our streets. We forget we are
animals here inside. You sharks, you spotted deer,
mountain goats, wild boar, puma — you are costumed
but we do not see you. So what, you say? What’s new?
They enter the school without uniforms except for
the knee socks, they levitate onto desks, bite books.
Unknown, unknowing, we hide in the CVS though
the beer and the tampons are endangered. The ghosts,
the ghosts in their lingerie boogie to silent beats. Do
they know each other, the creatures and the ghosts?
We, inside, cannot know. But our mates are nodding
on couches, and some wine still resides, and we have
abandoned our costumes. The creatures have satisfied
their lack of curiosity and are returning to the forest.
The ghosts in their chassé hang with the creatures. We
fools in sweatpants have forgotten that we are animals.
Go ahead, when this is over, the beasts are telling us,
try to live in your ruins. The monsoon has come at last.
Adiós, we would say, but we understand your word. So.



Meg Files is the author of the novels Meridian 144 and The Third Law of Motion, Home Is the Hunter and Other Stories, The Love Hunter and Other Poems, Writing What You Know, a book about taking risks with writing, a poetry chapbook, Lit Blue Sky Falling, and a forthcoming novella, A Hollow, Muscular Organ. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press

Bed

by Tricia Knoll


Of all the curled up, blanketed-down places
this is the cuddliest under the gray duvet
and my “Walk in the Garden” quilt
made by the El Rito quilters to raise
money for their library – cotton strips 
of moss-green leaves and French pink, 
or dried-blood red roses, some burnished
gold understates a promise that the now outside
of two-feet of snow, an unplowed road,
and scatters of cold chickadees will feel melt
and fuchsia peonies will find a way.

Find a way when today there is nothing
to do, no place to go, and if there were,
I’d stay to hear the boiler rumble.
The mask I have to wear is nowhere
as lovely as the quilt, my body warmth
that begs me to sleep it away, all day. 



Tricia Knoll is a poet in Vermont (U.S) who spent this last year alone in a house in the woods birdwatching, snow-watching and writing poetry. Her poetry collection, Checkered Mates, came out in April 2021 from Kelsay Books. 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.

Before the Roof Crashed In

by Deborah Bacharach


How I peered through the screen door
at the dinged up corner mailbox. For a sign
like a galumphing hippopotamus,
profligate, ornamented, scenic-route excessive,
I lived in hope.
I had a vision, a grotto
drugged with candles. All the nobodies joining the church
no dillydallying, not trying to dive into paradise
but sidestepping the downpour of death.
                                                         But now
for mocha chip placid in the freezer, I stab a screwdriver
against frost rowed up like pews. I strike, chip,
swear at the coils. I rip out my feathers, hurl myself
bloody against the shelves.
                                                          We nibbled
the passenger pigeon down the drain.



Deborah Bacharach is the author of Shake and Tremor (Grayson Books, 2021) and After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). She received a 2020 Pushcart honorable mention and has been published in Vallum, Poet Lore, and The Southampton Review among many other journals. She is an editor, teacher and tutor in Seattle. 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.

Iridescent Dusk

by Kim Malinowski


She died dreaming vibrant hues.

On ventilator, released,

dreaming and sleeping in clouds

all crimson and indigo,

no shadows, only shades of violet.

Whisper, hush, hesitant smile,

dreaming lilac dreams, dying, breath-by-breath.

Fading into marmalade skies,

kaleidoscope Autumn leaves,

lush mustards, tapered oranges, crinkling browns.

She faded into color, dreams, my memory.

Her ether is crisp citrine,

her dreams chanteuse, amber.

Her smile dusty rose and cheeks faint blush.

I did not know she was my prism

refracting light, breaking color into my life.

She leaves me pastels.

Hues leaving, leaving, leaving.



Kim Malinowski is a lover of words. Her collection Home was published by Kelsay Books. Her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work has appeared in many magazines and literary magazines. She writes because the alternative is unthinkable. 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.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

by Mell McDonnell

The Last of the Pandemic Poems 

I’m thinking of the way
we used to go off

like Roman Candles, laughing
like sparklers—to

theatre, concert hall, dinner with friends,
even the grocery store, going

the long way round
just for the fun of it, so

yes, yesterday, when,
everything (or nothing)

might be beginning, again—
and was, or wasn’t,

but who knew it then, and now
it’s walk into empty rooms

and say, “Why did I come here?”,
existential question, replaced by

“Where are my glasses?”
“What was her/his name?”:

accumulation of absences,
when even the cats are dying,

and words  drip:
longing, lassitude, torpor, stupor, sluggish—
clawing at fog,

but maybe this year is only
a wide parenthesis, and this sentence

will end.
What’s next?

Continents, earthquakes, oceans of air.  .  .  .
Oh, hit me with happiness—

we’re still here.



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. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Persuasion

by Carrie Albert


I tell her, It’s here to teach self-defense. 
A robotic baby cries to students, needs 
unreal. A broken virus, a pretend monster,
not equipped, surfs through veins; side effects 
depart swiftly. It’s not your brother’s rubbish 
about altering DNA. It guards you from hospitals 
and ventilators. Okay, you can question humans 
acting like sheep, desperate to gather again. 
But this is liquid gold, studied by clever scientists, 
duplicated with precision in unsullied laboratories.
You will be able to visit Olga stuck alone in her room 
for a year. Your doctor will breathe calmer; 
your Lyft driver won’t need that plexiglass shield. 
This is the noble thing, your small part.
Come on, I tell my body, Let’s get the jab done.



Carrie Albert is a multifaceted artist and poet who lives in Seattle. Her poems and multimedia art works have been published widely in journals and anthologies, including Indianapolis Review, About Place, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Grey Sparrow, Foliate Oak, Earth’s Daughters and most recently a poetry anthology: Canticles and Spheres (Propertius 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.

Open Again

by Diane LeBlanc


Ferris wheels
packed away
somewhere
south of snow
on truck beds
wait
to be opened
like fans,
spokes bolted
in place,
seats swinging
above city
lights and rivers,
crowds waiting
in lines
to rise
to the top
of the wheel
to say,
this is how
we imagined
the world
open again.



Diane LeBlanc is a writer, teacher, and book artist with roots in Vermont, Wyoming, and Minnesota. She is the author of The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books, 2021). Poetry chapbooks include ThisSpace for MessageSudden GeographyDancer with Good Sow, and Hope in Zone Four.  Poems and essays appear in Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, Green Mountains Review,  Mid-American Review,Sweet, and other journals. Awards include Mid-American Review‘s 2019 Fineline Competition prize. Diane directs the writing program and teaches at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. 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.

Pandemic Graduation (May 2020)

by Shannon Donaghy


My college graduation arrives in a box
and I take it upstairs with me to my new apartment
along with a new litter box and different litter
because my cat is picky
and, as such, shit all over my carpet. So, me,
the new cat bathroom, and
my graduation go upstairs together,
all of us in boxes.

I sink to the floor, close to where my cat shit earlier,
and I open my graduation and I mourn for a moment.
All of the new things I am tasked with getting used to
swarm around me, land on my shoulders,
ask me to ignore the moments – past tense –
that deserve fanfare.
Here is a list of things I don’t know:
How a vaccine gets approved by the FDA.
How people can hear scientific fact
and, like it’s a boot cut jean or a new hairstyle,
decide that it just isn’t right for them.
How Atlas holds up the sky every goddamn day
(it would be so easy to let go).
How any of us can function at all, given the circumstances.
How my graduation knew my new address
and made it to my apartment, despite our strained relationship,
the unspoken and unfinished thing sitting between us,
making both of us decidedly unreal.
How my cat knew to imitate the theme of my day.

Here is a list of things I do know:
The sun will rise tomorrow, in the east, like it always does.
My cat probably will not shit on the floor again.
We are not all in the same boat,
we are all in the same storm. I am lucky to have the boat I have.
Even so, I am still allowed to be bothered by the rain.
Celebration does not have to look like
a cap and a gown on a person.
I have still graduated and received a degree,
even if my graduation sits in a little brown box
in the back of my closet to collect dust and age, maybe forever.



Shannon Donaghy is a queer poet and writer from South Jersey, currently residing in Philadelphia. She is a book publicist and has the pleasure of working with authors and books from all genres. Her poetry can be found in Plum Tree Tavern, Red Cedar Review, The Normal Review, and more. When she is not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she enjoys hiking, painting, and wood burning. 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.