Welcome to the Mask Museum

by G.L. Morrison


Along this hallway you will see
a disparate collection, function and history
of masks, masking, maskery.
The sacred beside the profane. 
Second faces of warriors and shamans.
Kachina dancers. Venetian Masquerade.
A snorkel. A fireman’s SCBA. A Halloween
ninja turtle, a bird goddess, 
the plague doctor, Jesse James’ bandana,
the mardi gras party-goer (revelling 
in Fat Tuesday’s excesses before
the austerity of Lent), mickey mouse,
heads of high school mascots, the surgeon’s blue,
a gas mask from WWI, a balaclava.
A welder’s face shield, a soldier’s.
The hangman’s hood, the clansman’s.
A ski mask. A death mask.
A burka. A bridal veil.
The Guy Fawkes. The Casanova.
The Red Masque of Death. 
The ball gag gimp. Rubber heads 
of presidents and Hollywood kings.

Ahead is an alcove 
that is mask-free. Its walls flanked 
by mirrors to show you the masks 
you wore in here unwittingly: 
flirt, scold, teacher, liar, comforter,
punisher, sinner, savior. Room 
enough for all expressions. Unmask 
yourself. See what you see.

To the left, there is a wall 
with over a hundred face masks
to represent the diversity of choices
and messaging available during 
the global pandemic of 2019:
Black Lives Matter, If You Can Read
This You’re Too Close.

To the right is a empty wall
to represent the masks not worn
by freedom fighters in the war 
against common sense 
and communal health guidelines. 
Note at the bottom, a digital display 
ticks like seconds on a clock
ticking like a bomb
ticker tape like dollars lost
like a parade for dead patriots.
Too fast to read the names 
of any individual. But no matter.
Individualism isn’t meant 
for individuals. Names aren’t important.
It’s the principle that counts.



G.L. Morrison is a professional writer, an amateur grandmother, and a regional organizer for the Communist Party USA. Queer and disabled, she lives at the intersection of many communities and identities where she tends honey-filled hives of sweet poets, artists, and activists. 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.

Empty, except for

by Kika Man


the birds, they fill the streets.
See their wings, their feathers, their excretions.
This town has never been abandoned,
even as the people leave behind
the unoccupied benches, the water fountains reflecting the gold.
Its roofs are broken and scattered, the dust has settled
on the pots and pans in the run-down kitchens.
And as the last inhabitant clears up
their space, an ant carrying a sugar cube the size of a caravan will move in,
an owl will watch them go, twisting their neck as to wave them
goodbye. Goodbye, and may it all go well.
Goodbye, and be safe.
Goodbye.



Kika Man 文詠玲 (26 May, 1997) is a writer and a student from Belgium, and also from Hong Kong. She has always been writing and playing and learning and reading. To them, all of these are one and the same. Kika writes about mental health, traveling and dreaming, about her mixed identity, about music and blueness. Alongside writing poetry, she is part of Slam-T (a spoken word & slam poetry platform). They have majored in Eastern Languages and Cultures: China at Ghent University and are currently chasing after a degree and PhD in Gender and Diversity and Cultural studies. Kika’s first poetry book will be published soon in 2021-2022. 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. 

Attention: Passengers Arriving from Kahului, Maui, on Alaska Flight 13

by Carolyn Martin


Would the woman who was seated in 14C
proceed to Baggage Claim to retrieve
one husband and four checked bags.
He regrets what he said on Kamaole Beach.
He didn’t mean you looked overweight
in your Costco one-piece—although he maintains
you’ve griped incessantly about pounds
amassed during the quarantine.
He meant “rounding out” as a joke.

Truth is, I understand. Not
the fudging of his jibe—that was lame—
but additions to tummies and thighs.
Diets never work, so vanity’s a vice I’ve trashed.
I’m at the age when … but I digress.
Attention, 14C. Your husband’s stuck
at the Alaska carousel. He’s the one
pacing in a Hilo Hattie’s shirt,
mopping heat off his sunburned face.



Carolyn Martin, from associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 130 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. 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.    

Journey Around

by Caroline Crumpacker


The present continuous is a trying tense for many people.
My friend from Germany says I go now   when she is ready to leave.

There is no pith like an Au Revoir is there?

We are not dashing through the present   any longer. We need it whole.

It’s that kind of a time.

I keep thinking of A Journey Around My Room
written by a man on house arrest following a duel.
He wears elegant traveling clothes to visit different parts of his room
            assigning each its own  elaborate   psychogeography .

Should we take up the game    ?
I wear huge pearls  for   the realms and eras  
of my bedroom this evening.  The storied  surface of   my  desk.
My favorite book.   Something I wrote on Facebook   immortalized
and   I wear the pearl of Lao Tzu     or did I just read about it. .

I tell my friend it’s that kind of a time and we exchange thoughts on sorrow
but not sorrow itself    unless mirror neurons work  online .   Do they ?

I read that hunters a few States over    fearing an
increase in wildlife protections   kill hundreds of wolves  at once.
As if cruelty is   becoming condensed.

I arrive in the kitchen enthralled 
the coffees and teas and jars of spices. 

I think about the Persian soup  that is said to change lives. 
Though everything changes lives  these days.

I read the world needs a shutdown every two years
to reach modest climate goals.
It’s a good time    for the planet
  when we are  reduced   to an essence
  wandering our rooms for adventure.

Each rug each  pillow     as in  going a little mad
  doubling and trebling our images on  screen.

I read that  a new level of blue is created
ultramarine   twilight   I wear Bulgarian Rose  in its honor  .
  Or did I just read about  the fabled roses  that smell of cinnamon
  the  orchard near the   troubled  border  line  deep in the woods
      crawling with ghosts  .

My Swedish bookshelves  a fable of simplicity  and bright showrooms.

Somewhere along the way  I come upon a sequel,
  The Nocturnal Journey Around My Room
  apparently just  as witty  and disturbing
            but
           who can bear it? 



Caroline Crumpacker is a poet and translator living in the Hudson Valley. She has one book (Astrobolism, Belladonna Collaborative) and three chapbooks and is a contributing editor to Matters of Feminist Practice. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press

The Year of Helicopters

by Philip Brown


                                               for Julia and all the others

Not a day, and especially not a night,
went by that I did not hear the helicopters.
Their circling. Their waiting for clearance
to land at the too-close hospital. The already
lost efficiently delivered.

I knew the hospital well. Its Attendings
and Nurses. The newly minted Residents
delivered into a world that they — that
none of us ever imagined.

They were gifted with resilience. Most of
them were. Others shattered when the
pick-and-choose of triage forced them
into the role of God. The god they no
longer believed in. If they ever did.

They were the only angels that mattered. Angels
with latex covered hands gently placed on foreheads.
Rolled those they could not save to their stomachs
to catch their last breath.

I huddled in my locked down world, my
shrunken world, and offered up prayers to
saints in scrubs.


Philip Brown has had short fiction published in Voices West, Farmer’s Market, and Strong Coffee. His story “Helpless” won a PEN Syndicated Fiction award, selected by Mona Simpson. Most recently, he had poems appear in Subterranean Blue Poetry and in New Reader The Mojave Review, and Harmony. His short story “Sun in the East, Sun in the West” won 3rd prize in Typehouse Literary Magazine’s open fiction contest, and recently appeared in issue 12. He has had short stories recently in The Blue Bib and Switchblade, and a haiku was chosen by the Old Pueblo Poems competition, on display in downtown Tucson through June 2021. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

If you don’t think you do anything right

by Ellen Stone

 

                                                For John Prine

Make beer bread w/one can of cheap lager.
Consider becoming more flavored yourself.
Eat more bone marrow. Reduce cruciferous
vegetables, especially cabbage. Soak your feet
in well water centered with rind of blood orange.

Remember clubs of cheery types of people who
gather in groups like knitters, coin collectors
& those who like old dolls. Do more meditation
when recycling & garbage has finally been collected
Sing at sunrise or when the dew comes off the grass.

Embrace your household of living beings –
mice, squirrels or your offspring. Find
a handful of fountain pens, freaks & curlers
or the right side of the bed. Ask everyone
one song that makes them cry every day.



Ellen Stone taught special education in public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over 30 years. She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat!, where she lives with her husband in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ellen is the author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.


Prelude

by Tamara Madison


The boat of my self
floats on a lake

Fir trees in the distance
sky on the water

Fish-like ripples
stroke my hull

So long without touch,
I’ve gone feral

The dark water’s murmur
is music that soothes me

The tender lake
holds me in its bowl



Tamara Madison is a retired educator whose work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Worcester Review, the Writer’s Almanac, Sheila-Na-Gig, and many others. Her chapbook, The Belly Remembers, and her full-length collections, Wild Domestic and Moraine, were published by Pearl Editions. She is a swimmer and a dog lover, and very glad to have retired before the pandemic set in. Carolyn Monastra is a Brooklyn-based artist, activist and educator. Her recent projects, The Witness Tree and Divergence of Birds, focus on climate impacts on people, landscapes, and wildlife.

Quarantine in Worm World

by Amelia Gorman

“If all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes.”
Nathan Cobb, “Nematodes and their Relationships”, 1914


Here in the middle she’s compelled by pests
on every side. Walls rise around and force
her to step back from the Pacific Crest.
Her breath attaches to itself like remoras.
She never saw the Grand Canyon, doesn’t
think she ever will. Or a tumbleweed.
But somewhere out there now, All-That-Wasn’t
still cuts a deep vein in the earth and grieves
until the end. But she is stuck in place
like a museum display, a glass jar,
restrained. She never saw the Grand Staircase
Escalante, or eased through Voyageurs.
Even if she could now, she’d only see
worms make up redwood and Joshua tree.



Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California. In her free time you can find her exploring the forests and tidepools with her dogs and foster dogs. Her first chapbook, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota, is forthcoming from Interstellar Flight 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.

Mis(s)connection

by Caitlin Mundy


I miss subway stations. 
There’s something about a train rushing 
in, blowing my hair as it comes, and new 
people seemingly materializing from nowhere 
and then 
in almost no time at all, 
others being swept away. 
Everyone on their way 
to somewhere.
All headed in different directions, 
yet on our way 
together. In this moment
together. 

I miss crowds. 
I miss searching faces 
I don’t think I’ve ever seen before 
and wondering if maybe I have, 
in this life 
or another. It’s the beginnings, 
the chance encounters, 
the moments 
when you step out of your front door 
head first into a conversation about the meaning of life 
with a complete stranger. 
Two paths on completely different trajectories 
that just happen to cross 
for a brief moment, 
throwing your whole path off course, 
then diverging back 
into the void 
of the parts of the world you know nothing about. 

Or the moments when they don’t cross 
and I wonder
about the possibility 
that my life has been spinning around 
the person sitting behind me on the bus,
two bodies orbiting each other 
always
just missing the other, 
just on the verge of meeting.
Just on the verge of becoming.

I miss potential. Potential 
that doesn’t show up 
when I am grabbing my groceries and staying 
as far away from every other human as I can 
before running back into my cave. 
In my cave, I have no more could-become
to wonder about. But at least 
I still have my briefly-were
to remember. To realize 
how the guy I drunkenly explained 
physics to at a party 
and never saw again, 
or the girl with the baby 
I sat next to on an airplane, 
may have shaped the curves 
of my line more than I knew. 
More than I know, still. 
How I am craving being rocked off course 
again. How I am craving 
being. 



Caitlin Mundy is a Canadian poet, traveller, and recent graduate of mathematics. In the summers you can find her planting trees in the north and dreaming up new adventures to have. 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.

Weathering

by Rebecca Leet


Not even hunger
brings them to a feeder
swinging wildly        bobbing
like a buoy storm-tossed
on waves of the Chesapeake.

No mourning dove
no purple finch
no chickadee.

They wait someplace safe
for the gale to calm.

The feeder dangles from a white pine 
whose thinner branches
bounce          twist    flip
acquiescing

until winds are spent
routine returns.

At the window,
cloistered alone
against rampant pandemic,
I take notes    on weathering
what I cannot control.



Rebecca Leet lives across the Potomac River from Washington DC., where life is rarely quiet. She finds calm along the river or heading to the Atlantic shore to commune with the ocean. She has been published in a dozen print and on-line journals and her maiden book of poetry, Living With the Doors Wide Open, was published in 2018. 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.