Whirling

by Jessica Burnquist


Traveling home is not possible–
pandemic borders and invisible risk.
But if it were, what might be discovered there,
seen in newly familiar slants of desert light? 

Deep purples of bruise emerge from nowhere
into the light and now there is time to reconcile 
or throw memory into a lake. And the lake is not
bordered with Narcissus. The lake is a reflecting pool 
deeply waving in the most significant faces. 

Sometimes you swim in the lake. Sometimes 
you drown. Sometimes you are reborn and even 
if this takes place in the worn impression your body
causes in the sofa, it means something about 
your nature. It means you are willing to drift.

Maybe when you were small, you studied your mother
and her opal pendant with a burning fire to put it 
in your pocket for magic and wishes. Spells for later when 
no adults were nearby and you were in the air 
of the backyard or the park across the street 
with wild hive-causing grasses. 

Much later, you will order an opal from India, 
wear it on your writing hand and the wishes
will find a way to pour out and you will be 
and you will not be home again. And you 
will be drenched and dry. You will overhear
reports on the latest spikes of death
because so many traveled too soon, 
and you will be aware and you
will be at once joyfully, 
miserably alive.



Jess Burnquist is the author of the chapbook You May Feel Your Way Past Me (Dancing Girl Press). Her poetry has appeared in multiple journals including Clackamas Review, Ms. Magazine, Natural Bridge, Hayden’s Ferry Review and more. She currently directs education and youth empowerment at a human rights anchored non-profit in Southern California. 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.

The Great 21st Century Poemic

by Trudi Lee Richards

It struck one day
out of the blue, 
cropping up all at once
in random spots
all across the planet

The first known cases
were a small boy
in Lincoln, Nebraska,
whom his mother found
one morning
reciting strange
and beautiful words
a small smile
on his small face
and
a grandmother
in Melbourne, Australia,
who was caught
that very same day
wandering the aisles
of a department store
reciting verses
from the Tang Dynasty

After that
the Poemic spread
lickety split
leaping like lightning
across whole oceans 
and continents

In London 
a mother of six woke up
spouting Tennyson
and in no time 
her entire family was babbling
in iambic pentameter

In Buenos Aires a family
was stricken
with the odes of Pindar
in the original 
ancient Greek

In Beijing
a whole neighborhood
was infested 
with Billy Collins

And so it went.
How the Poemic was able
to spread itself 
so far and wide
so fast
no one knew

At first 
it was thought to be passed
simply through the spoken word
but soon 
infectious particles
were discovered
hitching rides on sound waves,
in rays of light
and even nestled
in random thoughts

Scientists also knew
that however it flew
it was always spewing out 
more and more spores
that would land
take hold
and grow

It was only 
a matter of time
before the entire economy
of the world
had settled
into a deathly peaceful lull.
In the factories
no one stood on the assembly lines
In the banks 
no one begged for loans
or doled them out
In the schools
no one taught the state curriculum
and no one was bored

Day after day
everyone
everywhere
simply dreamt the time away
to the murmured
declamation
of immortal poetry
both ancient
and new

Everyone assumed
that soon
the infection
would burn itself out
and things would go back
to normal

But instead
the Poemic only settled in
with a happy gurgle
sinking its teeth
deep into the tender underbelly
of the human genome 

And so it went
for days
and weeks
and months
and years…

Suffice it to say
that to this day
no known victim
has ever recovered

This is perhaps
a loss for History
but all things considered
no one
seems to be 
complaining

Because
after the first onslaught
things began to change
in quite unobjectionable ways

People began to go about their days
speaking in poetry
and fixing things
and before long
no one was going hungry
no one was left out in the cold
no one sick was left uncared for
no one old was forgotten
no one sad was ignored
no one anywhere
was afraid
of dying lonely
and alone

Instead
people sang
while they made soup 
and someone
was always baking cookies
Farmers smiled
at their cows
and hummed 
while they fertilized their fields
Scientists 
stopped scorning testimonies
of life after death
Physicians healed
by laying on of hands
Chemists formulated
harmless potions
that dissolved pain
Teachers
led children into the fields
to study bugs and flowers
and wade in streams
and catch pollywogs
Young people studied 
what they loved
and got paid 
in poems

That was how it happened
that people stopped hurting each other
and simply did
what needed to be done,
and when the time came for rest
they sat together on porches
and admired the way
the dust motes danced
in rays of the sun

And little by little
in every place
every last member 
of the human race
began to wake up each day 
with a smile on their face
happy and peaceful
in every way
for no rational reason at all.






La Gran Poémica del Siglo XXI

Apareció un día
inesperadamente,
surgiendo como un todo
en distintos lugares
por todo el planeta

Los primeros casos conocidos
fueron un niño pequeño
en Lincoln, Nebraska,
a quien su madre encontró
una mañana
recitando extrañas
y hermosas palabras
con una pequeña sonrisa
en su carita
y una abuela
en Melbourne, Australia,
quien fue atrapada
ese mismo dia
vagando por los pasillos
de una tienda departamental
recitando versos
de la dinastía Tang

Después
la propagación poémica
seguramente se expandió
saltando como un rayo
en continentes enteros
y océanos

En Londres
una madre de seis se despertó
escupiendo Tennyson
y en muy poco tiempo
toda su familia estaba balbuceando
en pentámetro yámbico

En Buenos Aires una familia
fue golpeada
con las odas de Píndaro
en el original
de la Grecia antigua

En Beijing
todo un barrio
estaba infestado
con Billy Collins

Y así sucedió.
Cómo pudo la poémica
extenderse
tan lejos, tan ancho 
y tan rápido
nadie supo

Al principio
se pensaba 
que era transmitido simplemente 
a través de la palabra
pero pronto
partículas infecciosas
fueron descubiertas
montandose en ondas sonoras,
en rayos de sol
e incluso acurrucados
en pensamientos dispares

Los científicos también sabían
que a pesar de volar
siempre estaba produciendo
más y más esporas
que aterrizaban
se expandian
y crecian
en cualquier lugar

Era sólo
cuestión de tiempo
antes que toda la economía
del mundo
se había instalado
en una tregua mortalmente pacífica.

En las fábricas
nadie se detuvo en las líneas de montaje
en los bancos
nadie pidió préstamos
y nadie los repartió
En las escuelas
nadie enseñó el plan de estudios estatal
y nadie estaba aburrido

Día tras día
todo el mundo
en todas partes
simplemente soñaba el tiempo
a la murmurada
declamación
de poesía inmortal
antigua
y nueva

Todos asumieron
que la infección
pronto
desaparecería
y las cosas volverían
a la normalidad

Pero en vez
la poémica se instaló
con un feliz gorjeo 
hundiendo sus dientes
profundamente en el tierno vientre
del genoma humano

y asi sucedió
por dias
y semanas
y meses
y años ...

Basta decir
que hasta el día de hoy
ninguna víctima conocida
se ha recuperado

Esto es quizás
una pérdida histórica
pero considerando todas las cosas
nadie
parece estar
quejandose

Porque
después del primer ataque
las cosas empezaron a cambiar
de manera bastante inobjetable

La gente empezó a su rutina diaria
hablando en poesía
y arreglando cosas
y en poco tiempo
nadie pasaba hambre
nadie se quedó afuera en el frío
nadie se enfermó y se quedó sin cuidado
nadie de edad fue olvidado
nadie triste fue ignorado
y nadie en ningún lugar
tenía miedo
de morir solo

En cambio
la gente cantaba
mientras cocinaban
y alguien
siempre estaba horneando galletas
Los agricultores sonrieron
a sus vacas
y tarareaban canciones
mientras fertilizaban sus campos
Científicos
dejaron de despreciar los testimonios
de la vida después de la muerte
Los médicos sanaron
por la imposición de manos
Los químicos formularon
pociones inofensivas
que disuelven el dolor
Profesores
llevaron los niños a los campos
a estudiar insectos y flores
y a vadear arroyos
y capturar sapos
Los jóvenes estudiaron
lo que más deseaban
y fueron remunerados
con poemas

Así fue como sucedió
que la gente dejó de hacerse daño
y simplemente hizo
lo que se necesitaba hacer,
y cuando llegó el momento del descanso
se sentaron juntos en los porches
a admirar la forma que
las partículas de polvo bailaban
en los rayos del sol

Y poco a poco
en cada lugar
hasta el último miembro
de la raza humana
comenzó a despertar cada día
con una sonrisa en su rostro
feliz y pacífico
en todos los sentidos
sin ninguna razón especial.



Trudi Lee Richards is a poet, writer, singer-songwriter, mother and step-grandmother of several wonderful humans, and a member of the Community of Silo’s Message in Portland, Oregon. Published work includes Confessions of Olivia; On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo; Soft Brushes with Death; Fish Scribbles; and Experiences on the Threshold. Her work can be found at Winged Lion Press Cooperative, on her youtube channel, and on the Winged Lioness Podcast, a new podcast about rebelling against Death. Fernando Aranguiz translated the poem into Spanish. Fernando Aranguiz lives in Portland, Oregon. He writes from time to time. His poetry and fiction over the last 22 years has dealt with the subject of intuitions, aspirations, internal realities and the existential. His work is an expression of a search based in general on Siloist thought and in particular on Silo’s Message. 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.

The Routine I Live By

by Margaret Blackstock


I wake, then settle into snooze.
Soft black slippers greet my feet.

I creak out of bed, curse the cold,
put on an old sweatshirt, then go

straight to the kitchen to make coffee
and check my phone.

I open the curtains and gaze
at the new sky, a dazzling bloom.  

I pray, check the news, take a vitamin.
And it always starts this way.

Until the evening, there’s a sequence
I follow. I need the certainty,

inside these walls. Outside,
there may be chaos and change–

Fresh riots, new viral strains.
But here, I walk the lines of an ordered clock

Like a human minute hand
counting down my life, tick tock,

hour by hour and day by day,
lockdown life passes, over and over, this way.



Margaret Blackstock is an advertising and marketing writer living in San Francisco, CA. She works on her poetry, reads everything from mysteries to social history, and watches a little too much TikTok in her pandemic spare time. 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.    

Fluent in Trauma

by Cara Losier Chanoine


My fluency in trauma
has left me with the tendency
to think in worst-case scenarios.
I live in a constant state of flex,
my mind a closed hand
with fingernail punctures on its palm.

When the pandemic hit the United States,
I expected my own panic,
but it turned out
that I’d been training
for this.
There is a part of me
that always expects something bad
to be coming.
There is a part of me
that will always be ready
when it arrives.


Cara Losier Chanoine is a New Hampshire writer and English professor. A four-time competitor at the National Poetry Slam, she is the author of the poetry collections How a Bullet Behaves and Bowetry: Found Poems from David Bowie Lyrics (Scars Publications 2013 and 2016). She likes horror movies, rollerskating, and woodland creatures. 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.

My Universal Poem

by Dena Parker Duke


I want to write the universal poem that isn’t just about
my little cog on a gear or about our incessant 
bickerings about turning in tandem, or not 

But about the cosmic egg that has an outer realm that reaches 
a higher plane than any of us and allows Light to 
shed over the hemispheres of our longing

Only to take a cosmic turn to let us rest while it reminds the other 
side of the same while one side dreams the other side lives
with their own receding and rising tides

I want to rise above where only ants can see their comings
and goings to where no gear has teeth that can bite
only colors and shades and movements

Where we are colored only by our place on the turning
only by the need for shade in relation to survival
each a magnificent Speck



Dena Parker Duke is an Idaho poet who has been playing with words for decades, first as a means to overcome her own isolation and loneliness, then as a grade school teacher who loved language. She’s now retired and is still using writing to guide her through the mysteries of life.  Dena has published poetry in Pearl magazine, Standing: Poetry by Idaho Women, a 2 volume collection of art and poetry entitled From You I Receive, To You I Give: A Collection of Art and Poetry Celebrating Social Justice and the book In Your Bones: Poems of Radical Forgiveness. 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.

The Summer After the Summer of 2020

by Connie Zumpf


Think of us all          together          planted

in the same summer garden      

snugged in a circle of weatherworn chairs               

yellow          orange          pink          blue        

heads bent in close          spokes on a wheel

inhaling communal air without fear          blowing rings      

over round cups of bittergreen tea

currents of scent stir in ribbons around us

peony          sage          rose.

Oh, how a body craves the spark          from a body          in the flesh       

sharing breath           from everyone’s words 

to see all of you          and all          

of you          and you

watch how you tap your feet          shift your weight

hunch forward          lean into my space         

look straight on          at me          so I know

we are riding the kite of our confab together                                            

rising          looping          diving.             

We brush elbows and hands          passing lemon          honey          rum         

to embellish our brew         

draw idle swirls with our spoons         

metal clinks on china rims          shiver of chimes from the linden tree

take in         each other        

never taking together for granted again

curls of steam from our drinks         cinnamon          cardamom

sharp and sweet on our tongues.



Connie Zumpf lives and writes in Denver, Colorado where she is a longtime member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared in New Ohio Review, North American Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, The Christian Century, I-70 Review, and other publications. Educated as a developmental psychologist, her poems explore themes of impermanence, aging, and the human curiosity to reach into and beyond the “self we know.” Her poetry chapbook, Under This Sun, was published by Finishing Line Press in March 2020. 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. 

Some Times

by Tyler Letkeman


Sometimes I forget for a few seconds

And think of where I’ll take you for supper

Some minutes I lean against the window

And hope that anyone, anything will pass by

Some hours I lay on the couch

And somehow end up in the dark

Some days I can’t shake the feeling

That I’m throwing good rabbits after bad

And I can’t remember if that’s even a thing

Some weeks I cut up snack apples

And then cut apples for snacks

Some fortnights I don’t even have the energy

To think of a joke about the game

Some months I forget the days

And the weeks all blend together

Some seasons I obsess over the season

And why our snow won’t melt

Some years, I’m told,

Have only been a month



Tyler Letkeman is a husband, father, brother, son, teacher, learner, reader, nerd, artist, scientist, poet, traveller, vacummer, shy guy, and general-life-enjoy-er. He is the creator, editor, and web-master of four lines, a poetry and art magazine that aims to get to the heart of things as simply as possible, and has recently self-published his first collection of poems, Gaia’s New Clothes. 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.

Covid or No Covid

by Constance Camille


         For my brother

he said, after agonizing for months over
whether to institutionalize his wife
suffering from dementia.

This mountainous man—And I don’t mean
in stature, in fortitude—this brother of mine,
succumbed to the madness of in-home care,

chaotic days and sleepless nights of pacing,
noise-making—the unforgiving brain erosion—
waiting for yet another shoe to fall.

Wanting to protect her, keep her safe
from the spiraling viral cyclone, not wanting
to deposit her at a foreign door.

It seemed like cruelty to him—
to abandon her in the wake of her darkest hours.

                   [forbidden to see her]

For this is what it felt like—until the realization
he was at the edge of a cliff, rocks crumbling
beneath the one hundred thousand pounds
of steel he carried, and

[she would not know the difference
from her own living room to that of
a memory care common room]

she does not recognize him as the man she loved,
her viral-protector, her care-giver, now only a ghost
who floats in and out of her shell-like existence.



Constance Camille resides in Florida with her two Volpino Italiana furbabies where she writes creative nonfiction and poetry. She received her MFA from the University of Central Florida where she is the book review editor for The Florida Review. Her work has been publishedin Aquifer: The Florida Review OnlineBright Flash Literary ReviewThe Helix MagazineMeat for Tea: The Valley ReviewThe Write Stuff Anthology, and Sundog Lit, where her poem was a finalist in their 2019 Collaborative Contest. When she is not reading book reviews, she is on her patio watching Cardinals and Blue Jays visit her bird feeders. (Twitter: @ConCamWrites.) 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. 

Destiny

by Sreekanth Kopuri


A cyclist pedals on his
dream that hangs before
like the bag of medicine for

his love, a quarantined
secret in the charpoy of
a few breaths that tick

like the clock, tired of its
cycle our hatred  broke
locking the earth, down

the narrow road he sneaks
re-tipping the police to break
the lock, down the curfew

road, but only to the sunset
that prohibits a procession
to the dry-eyed lonely funeral.

Sreekanth Kopuri is an Indian English poet from Machilipatnam, India. He has recited his poetry and presented his research papers in many countries. His poems and research articles have been widely published in journals like Heartland Review, Nebraska Writers Guild, Poetry Centre San Jose, Underground Writers Association, Word Fountain, A New Ulster, Synaeresis, Wend Poetry, Vayavya, Ann Arbor Review, Halcyon Days Magazine, to mention a few. His book Poems of the Void was the finalist for the EYELANDS BOOKS AWARD.  Kopuri is presently an independent research scholar in contemporary poetry, silence, and Holocaust poetry. He lives in his hometown Machilipatnam with his mother teaching and writing. 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.    

Virtually Two Miles from School

by Katherine Laufman


Ear fearlessly pressed against 
my teenage daughter’s door, 
unobtrusive like a female British detective.
DCI Jane Tennyson would be proud.

My girl is laughing in blossom
bursts, like the shifting spring breeze.
Toes on warm floorboards, knees balancing
a crackling laptop. 

She’s a virtual girl, a “Zoomie,” 
her classroom and its people piped
into her room. At first a sloppy pandemic
epiphany, now an exhausting necessity.

In a Zoom breakout room, 
they’re breaking down
genetic code until the connection
breaks: disrupting her signal, 
stinging sharp, like a sudden ousting
from locker talk. Her friends, far off,
unreachable.

Tensing with her verbal vacancy, 
I begin whispering an unheard
reminder, our daily mantra: 
“Give yourself grace, 
even when the show on the screen
goes on without you.”

My breath dammed, bursting only
when I know she is reconnected;
her room once again resounding
with far off familiar voices
falling like
Camellia
confetti
in the garden.



Katherine Laufman lives in Northern California and  is a former Special Education Teacher and small town newspaper editor. She has a B.A. in English from Colorado State University. She had several poems published when she was fresh out of college, then life happened.She is enjoying her renewed fascination with writing poetry after a 28 year hiatus. 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.