as their bedtime story, on the laptop my mother has skyped in,
William Shakespeare for Children, edited edition primary as the choice she gives them spoiled
for comedy, so when they pick Hamlet we are both surprised. Tragedy
is sad, I say. We know, my son tells me
in his night-sky pajamas. Shakespeare sounds fun, my daughter counters
winding the braid of her hair like an arras around the room of her hand.
To my delight, they are breathless, frozen by the ghostly stare,
Elsinor battlements, murder most foul both agree Hamlet is a whiner
and I, grateful that they edited Ophelia still feels a pang when he sends her discretely away.
Children’s editions are light in ambiguity so Hamlet pretends, he loves, he obeys
enough for heroism, still everyone is delighted when he skewers Polonius,
pirates and a duel, my husband and I act it out with wooden spoons as my mother reads,
children howling when I am slain, twitching on the denrug, eyes on the carefully locked front door.
Do I tell them of the time I saw it live, at the Barbican, cemented, brutal,
all the golden threads of my life five rows from the stage,
they were everyone mine, Hamlet, Claudius every word and though I knew them all
I wept as if I had suddenly become aware that all things die.
Katherine Hagopian Berry (she/her) has appeared in the Café Review, Rise-Up Review and Glass: Poet’s Resist, among other places. Her first collection, Mast Year, was published in 2020. She is a poetry reader for the Maine Review.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.
Mary Grace van der Kroef is a poet, writer, and artist from Ontario, Canada. She is a person of faith, a mental health warrior, and a lover of the simple things in life. She writes to bring light in to the world, and highlight those simple things she loves. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Dwelling Literary, Fahmidan Journal, and Hencroft Hub. 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.
A Romantic aesthetic trashed today, out of fashion,
Fuck flung around like grass seed,
Awesome attached to every third noun,
And Lucien Freud’s bloated bodies
leaping off canvas to strut the national stage.
Trending, a head-to-head race to vulgarity.
Locked-in, wine required, needs still surging.
Virginia Beards lives on in the oxymoronic Amish/fox-hunting farm country of southeast Pennsylvania after teaching British and European literature for 23 years at Penn State University. Her poetry book Exit Pursued by a Bear and Others was published by Oermead Press in 2014. She also has three short stories in Chester County Fiction (2014); poems in Scoundrel Time, and in W.O.E.—Writing on the Edge (U. of California, Davis), a critical edition of a 19th century British novel (Rutgers University Press), plus assorted “scholarly” articles. Other: an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. Recently she won a prize from Scoundrel Time for the best pandemic poems.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.
and barbiturates still come up in your bloodwork. The same time it takes for arugula to break through the soil. Pea shoots, radishes, green onion, too. The span of December break at a public school. Reasonable notice for a shitty job. How long you wait for the bleeding to start before you panic. From introduction of new kitten, seen through a glass door by the old tom, to cat- home in the rocker. Waiting for the referral to the specialist. Enough time for your body to forget its fitness and let Netfilx in. A California winter. First-class shipping at the holidays, and most always, now. A body’s timeline for antibodies following vaccination. Delirium allowed after surgery, light duty-only. Self-help’s magic number for forming a new habit. From (solid) interview to (finally) job offer, generally and if you are lucky. Presidential signature to stimulus check in your account. Neither a week nor a fortnight, not overly poetic. A Prince song and a Horror film. Long enough for a revolution, in Egypt. Resolving an election in the US takes longer than this now. It can take this long for milk to come in (mine took longer). This is how long you can survive on mushrooms and dam water, if you have to. By now you should toss out the produce from the fridge
*For those who die from COVID 10, it takes, on average, 17 to 21 days from infection to death.
Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the author two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (fiction) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Her work has nominated for Best of the Net and anthologized in several collections, including Bending Genres, Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. In 2019, Sherre was a Parent-Writer Fellow at MVICW. Readers describe her writing as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. Tag her into conversation @sherrevernon. 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.
and. swatch of ragged thoughts billow around his shoulders.
Notched stick tells days, week, months, and maybe years.
May as well eat berries, oysters, salted goat.
He’d rather have a tiny piece of toasted cheese.
Bent double, he lopes up Spy Glass Hill.
The flat-glass ocean spreads below,
and way away, a speck:
a sail? a sail!
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.
The plague is horrible, it cannot see or hear. Cold as ice still frozen, it bleeds my heart.
The tree of wither the tree of bones the soul to eternity
The absolute sacrifice of prince of policemen Saint Michael trying to bring life
from hurt to new again silver gates open but open late.
JoyAnne O’Donnell is an author of three books of poetry that include Winds of Time and Spring & Summer’s Veil by Kelsay Books, Palace of Enchanted Day and Night by Cyberwit. JoyAnne is currently working on another book of poems. 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 barbershop pole spins. It’s Wednesday. My hair is on strike. Hiding behind a mask I pick up my prescription and pop in the bank.
Man in a wheelchair asks for help across 14th, a purple velvet throw covering bent legs. Majesty and misery share his mobile throne.
I post my last holiday parcel to Chapel Hill. A red-tailed hawk circles the park. Bells clamor. My granddaughter asks what an omen is.
Midas brushes leftover leaves and gold appears. Touch me, Midas, if you dare. Go ahead! My heart will baptize you, drown you in fire.
How much love can one lover bear? Touch me, Midas. I’ll put a knot in your beard.
Jeffrey Cyphers Wrightgot his MFA in poetry after studying with Allen Ginsberg. He is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, impresario, and artist, best known as a New Romantic, Post-Surrealist poet. He is author of 17 books of verse, including Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press and Party Everywhere from Xanadu. Currently he publishes Live Mag!, a journal of art and poetry. He is a Kathy Acker Award recipient and recently produced a film highlighting his puppet shows called “Pandemic Puppet Jam” on Youtube. 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.
I’m an empty vehicle parked motionless I lay on the ground here covered in bugs and earth just like I’ll be in death when I’ve forgotten everything I forget all of myself to remember you leaves and bugs in my hair I feel like a queen adorned with the crawling life of nature’s crown
if I can’t find joy in life I’ll find it in death for thank god in death there is final forgetting that which gains life from my death is my salvation there’s beauty in death and decay when it is inverted for in dissolution to another its life is converted here I lie covered in my own death in my backyard
I can assure those still living I’ve never been more peaceful however you imagine me, truth is, I’m in elysian fields and all that I was is returning to life look in the eye of the ant that crawls from my grave or the smoke that spirals up from my ashes ashes to ashes and dust to dust come what passes
on the day that you’re born your wishes nobody asks I return here again to my own unborn life in my backyard we dislike flies because they thrive on our rotting flesh and the aversion to dirt is an ownership issue at heart I am a queen of Nature in my own death garland like Persephone of white asphodel
the triumphal procession of life goes over my grave the day will shine as never before for something tomorrow when every particle of my body gives up its claim a lifelong lease returning from where it came this isn’t my body I only had it on lend break me in pieces and carry away
it’s my turn to return the debt of my first day and so the first & the last days keep coming & going for all and each death is justified by each new breath for every new breath is justified by a new joy and joy is the justification for everything else to Livingkind I donate my life in whole
in this moment my own heart bursts with Understanding in my own death I will do service to you the answer to the question which I’ve been seeking which isn’t justified otherwise in my daily existence for only in death can I do the Ultimate Service on the altar of joy I am willing sacrificial victim
life is a death and death is a life, I’m crawling with bugs I’ll never be thirsty or hungry again when I’m dead all my bodily needs something else’s new problem the aphid that crawls on my knee is my good friend this is what happens when you forget on a whole new level visions of death cloak me in peace
I am in the presence of the Great Being only in death the life it is eternally seeking what irony that I’d await my own destruction with pleasure and it is more than right that it should be so the balancing weights of Nature have beauty of their own making but before I leave, the seed of this poem I put in the ground
you are my flower in the moment that you pluck it and read it and when you blow it again it will be reseeded your first breath was the reason for my own death for only in death can all accounts be reckoned—
Empty vehicle parked motionless When you make room, look what enters
My body sits in the aftershocks of the presence In my non-existence it finds its existence
I float here without identity and I am in heaven I am a willing servant to your Visions
Eternal joy burst forth in my heart today Concrete slab is a lot more comfortable than I usually give it credit
So many problems are solved only in death Being the plaything of god is my life’s newfound purpose
Enter my body so I can carol your song I could say I’ve been ravished and never felt better
An eternity of time has passed and somehow I feel younger The note of an airplane’s whistle faints overhead
Here I lay plastered to half a lit globe in Universe Turning a thousand miles per hour reports Galileo
All around me Life continues on just like it’ll do when I’m gone But it has left a trail behind with which I’m blazing
I open my eyes to see wooden David Michelangelo’s Vision reverberates into this vision
I promise to repay every talent that I’m given—
I’m an empty vehicle parked motionless I forget who I am and what it was I was supposed to do—
Dawn Bratton lives in California and writes poetry and short poetic fiction that explores themes of death, narratives with the past, perception, the nature of reality, and rediscovering meaning through experience. Her work has recently appeared in MARY: A Journal of New Writing, Calliope on the Web, and Disquiet Arts. 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.
There is an impersonalness to our touch, working backwards from intimacy into being mis-associated strangers, what activities not to do any more: touching cold feet in bed or putting a washcloth to my throat. Are these acceptable gestures now that we are rewinding into the opposite of lovers. We have tried to face the wall inside the tunnel that is where we used to travel through on our way to being together, and we have pressed in a non-onward direction, like switching from left to right, forced to hold the wrong hand, to relearn how not to. How not to throw and catch awkwardly. How to face with the other shoulder, how to bend the wrong way into a triangle, into a new limiting direction that keeps you trapped and strangled and lost. Everything from scratch transforming into a scar, the places when you used to know things by heart. Time is putting on your right shoe and steadying yourself on the left, jumping around to keep a sort of balance in an irregular circular way –as if you are fooling yourself safe, back on the ground and can protect the country from falling, becoming a universal key positioned into the lock of how new life has become unremarkable, disappeared and a lot more ugly.
Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portuguese-American writer is the author of two poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon Ireland 2016). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, Foundation for Contemporary Arts NYC (Covid emergency grant), California Arts Council, Yaddo, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She lives in California. 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.
Silence broken by the one-note symphony of cicadas singing from trees.
But there’s a soloist whose song rises above the rest— an urgent fifth – F to B flat
repeating at steady intervals.
Is this the lucky cicada who found his mate?
The world will never know.
In the end, the entire brood will mate, lay eggs, and die,
leaving their exoskeleton carcasses and their soft, red-eyed bodies to rot on sidewalks and cars, in grass.
Their progeny will rise up singing in another 17 years.
Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She has read her work at local venues, for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019, 2020, and upcoming on February 10, 2021), and for the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry. Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, an online and print literary journal featuring Black Women writers. Three of her poems have been published: “Golem Emet” and “I Don’t Want to Play The ‘Capitol’ of Edition of Clue™” in Oddball Magazine and “Just Another Covid-19 Saturday” in Global Poemic. 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.