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.

Adult Quarantine Friend

by Sharon Mesmer


Adult quarantine friend, the only thing keeping me alive in this cesspool of full body panic and late-stage capitalism are your slam-dunk queso blanco chips and dips: they make one-third of me feel oddly Eastern-European, the other third like Toto — the band, not the dog — while my middle part is thrown totally off-kilter by warm memories of our massive Halloween horse-foraging weekend. I will be going to great lengths to recreate snack feels as good as that, so make sure you have things to do.

Tall, mature COVID companion, would you agree that the Republican love story is revealed in bacterial DNA, while the Democrats’ is told by a stag beetle that lands on people? On Election Night 2016 I was that stag beetle, waving my pincers in a pathetic attempt to communicate something to three old Italian women sitting on a bench outside a Brooklyn beauty salon and trying to kill me with their dirty pink house slippers. Turns out I was right about the global need for mood stabilizers.

Grown-ass pandemic pal, have you ever been rushed to the ER because you had a fish jaw stuck in your eyeball? How about a small plastic Baby Jesus — or your own earring? I’m asking for a friend. Because you have all your limbs and teeth while I have a small plastic Baby Jesus and an earring lodged in my eyeball along with massive fear of being around people. This begs the question: am I already suffering the rude incongruities of Plague Christmas? Who will travel to vaccinate Santa?

Legal age asymptomatic amigo, fully developed BFF with whom I’m spending every waking second: I’m now living for queso blanco. That’s how attenuated existence has become. Decided: I will be filling all your mobile device screens with age-of-majority content photos, Just so you know. The fact that I have to skip all future Guitar Hero meetups means I will accomplish that, quar goals being a whole different set of goals that we’ve yet to fully understand. I think I’m beginning to, though.



Sharon Mesmer‘s most recent poetry collection is Greetings From My Girlie Leisure Place (Bloof Books). Previous books include The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose Press) Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo) and Vertigo Seeks Affinities (chapbook, Belladonna). She is also the author of three short fiction collections. Her essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, New York Magazine/The Cut, the Paris Review and the New York Times. She teaches creative writing at NYU and the New School. 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.

Piss Me Off

by Jack M. Freedman


You’re all alone
but they can all
hear you scream
from their apartments
as you wonder
why
you can’t find
a single
fast food
restaurant
where
you can
use the bathroom

Just so you
don’t have to
hold in your urine
as you realize
that after 8PM
you can’t piss
in the SI Ferry Terminal
or on the boat

So therefore
I am writing a poem
that I know damn well
will never be published
by the local newspaper
I threw shade at
with a previous
Facebook
account

Knowing
that no words
could possibly
do more justice
than a middle finger emoji
that doesn’t even \
do justice
to the message
I want to scream
across the Hudson River

Hoping
 it reaches
the numbskull
who thought
it was a good idea
to restrict bathroom access
like Sheldon Cooper
and thought urination
wasn’t really
that damn essential



Jack M. Freedman is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. Publications featuring his work span the globe. Under the pseudonym Jacob Moses, he penned …and the willow smiled (Cyberwit, 2019), Art Therapy 101 (Cyberwit, 2019), and Seance (Cyberwit, 2020). 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.

Cop Shows

by Karol Nielsen

We watch cop shows one after another during the long hours of quarantine. CSI: Miami looked good because it starred actors from a favorite series, NYPD Blue. The show opens with a grizzly murder or the discovery of a corpse and the suspects quickly emerge. It’s full of beach and pool parties, bloody postmortems, cheesy lines, and unbelievable confessions. Too often I pick up my cellphone and check messages, social media, even the news, and lose the thread. But I always hope that the next episode will draw me in.



Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Black Elephants (Bison Books, 2011) and Walking A&P (Mascot Books, 2018) and the chapbooks This Woman I Thought I’d Be (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and Vietnam Made Me Who I Am (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction in 2012. Her full poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2007. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Guernica, Lumina, North Dakota Quarterly, Permafrost, RiverSedge, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop. 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.

Quarantine on the Sun

by Elias Lowe


I have struggled to write a poem
because I am running from place
to place in my mind and my
neighborhood. You told me to
write about quarantine on the sun
as if I could conceptualize something
so hot and big. I’ve been thinking
about sex, clearly, and the word cock
and I’m working on loving my desires
the same way I love the sound of
the repetitive hand-drum the man
played on the shady corner and the way
that I love the tender, controllable things.
Palatable, transparent like homemade
coffee and pie. Still-life moments,
not the emergencies, hours
of birds, desperate decisions.

While I write to make the big fit on the paper,
you write to make the small things seem big.
Neither of us are saying very much,
we are both lying.
One thousand tiny failures,
a ripped shopping list
a sink overflowing with dishes.
My own desires spelled out,
suddenly diminished.



Elias Lowe is a transgender non-fiction writer and poet based in Pittsburgh, PA. They are recently unemployed and trying to make meaning out of daily joys and tiny rebellions. Elias’ work has been featured in Litro MagazineCosmonauts Avenue and After the Pause. Elias spends their time exploring what it means to be surviving through intentional community building and creative writing. 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.

Fireworks

by Alison Hurwitz


Almost every evening around  
the hour of 10 p.m. we hear them:
explosions puncture pinwheels all
across the surface of the city night,
the sound of everything pent up
that has had to be submerged,
pock pock pock pock BOOM!

They drive our rescue dog berserk,
and make him cower, barking out his
protest by the door. He trembles,
can’t translate from anything 
he understands, though his kind do
mark their territory, scenting every
bush and hydrant, naming it their own.

That urge resides inside us larger
mammals too: the need to fusillade
the air with exclamation points,
declaring “I am here, I matter,
and I add my energetic volley to the 
atmosphere, venting into air, exploding 
all anxiety around a sudden proclamation.

We swear, each time, and slam the windows 
shut, cuddling our incendiary dog
as he quivers, shaking with anxiety. 
Our human kind of cortisol increases
with the sound, but then, I also can
decode adrenally the urge to touch
frustration to the fire. I’d like igniting

my foreboding into flame, exploding it,
releasing sudden bursts of light.
I sit and ponder how we each
discover fireworks that let us 
air out grievances, allow us to 
expostulate, to detonate distress
into an aureole of sparkling stars.

I may exclaim, deride the pyrotechnic
outburst of my fellow human beings:
The hour! The dogs! PTSD Veterans!  
How can they be insensitive! But truthfully,
some part of me is outside in the night with them.  
In honesty, this poem is my pinwheel, spinning 
out a tail of trepidation with spellfire.

I light the fuse of meaning, detonating
all my adjectives in the heat house of
this stanza, waiting for the powder of
my poem to explode in dynamiting circles,
expanding metaphors in blinding light
across the darkness of our current time,
combusting entropy and turning it to flame. 



Alison Hurwitz holds a B.A. in English and Anthropology from Lawrence University.  She is a dancer, wedding and memorial officiant, and poet.  While Sheltering in Place for COVID-19, she has written one poem a day. Her poems have been featured in Volumes 1 and 2 of Poetry in the Time of CoronaVirus, and she was one of eight finalists for the grand prize offered on publication of the second volume. Her work will next be seen in the September 2020 edition of Words and Whispers. When not writing, she is grateful for time with her husband, two young sons, and rescue dog.  She lives in San Jose, CA. 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.

“Why won’t they stay inside?”

by Michelle Villegas Threadgould


Is what Norteamericanos

  ask Mexicanos

Like impatient parents

Aca lo que nos va a matar es la crisis

                                                                                                anarchists say

Literal Translation:
Here /hir/: Origin


What will kill us is the crisis

Non-literal Translation:
Aquí  /ä kē/: Origin
SPANISH —> NINA, PINTA, SANTA MARIA —> BLOOD —> “NEW SPAIN”

It’s not the virus but the economy that will kill us

That’s not what the Experts™ say

Sitting on el balcon de la Condesa
you see / they’ve seen
poverty

Once a week
they wander
the Mercado de la Merced
donde los ricos
gain admission
to be
salt of the earth

All it takes
to know / to experience / to live
poverty
is quince pesos / a dollar fifty

A dollar fifty
buys you a taco
spiced with sweat
and the taste
of a day’s worth of work

And so that woman
renting her stall
does not need
to make tacos / or tortillas
or traverse 30 miles
on foot / on metro / on bus
she has everything
she needs                                    in quarantine




Michelle Villegas Threadgould is a biracial, Chicana writer and poet who covers Latinx issues and resistant movements. Her work has been featured in CNN, Pacific Standard, KQED, New York Observer, and Latino USA. Seven of her essays were in the music anthology Women Who Rock, and her poems about Broken Borders were published in the Chachalaca Review. 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.

The Rite of Spring

by Marc Frazier


The Adoration of the Earth

How it begins the seed stirring like a bird becoming a bird becoming more like we become more this time of year. And in the air a new threat added to the old ones. A cold spring and damp. It’s easy not to notice the daffodils, the red tulips, forsythia. I start out on my daily walk. The mask heats me up. It’s all too much. Masks, gloves, wiping things down. It’s like living in an operating room. I nod at the postman, a weak hello. I wash my hands vigorously after taking in the mail. It’s like we are living in two dystopias now, the political and the public health one. There’s talk of snow flurries. In May. Reading Facebook will do it. Man’s inhumanity to man, that cliché literature trope. Is human nature human? I wonder sometimes. A man wiped his nose on a store employee because she asked him to wear a mask. Hundreds of stories like this. Thousands. Angry, armed domestic terrorists storming state capitols. I notice two trees with tight, bright red buds that will become leaves. I want to adore the earth. These flowers, these trees frozen in their growth.

The Sacrifice

I want to read a long, old-fashioned letter. Or write one. I want the old ways. In any form. I cross Lombard Avenue heading toward Buzz Cafe for a to-go latte. Everything is to-go now. We can’t pause for long, except within the confines of our own walls that grow closer daily. At times I feel like that character in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, hearing the beating, thinking I will be found out for who I am. That kind of claustrophobia. I note the boarded-up 7-11, another economic casualty. A squirrel dashes up an old oak. I walk around Barrie Park. Yellow tape surrounds the playground. A slight mist begins. A group of soccer players kick a ball. They are not supposed to be here. The parks are closed. Do I turn them in? It seems we are always monitoring others’ behavior. Asking whose rights come first. In Catholic grade school we were taught to respect our elders. So many are being rolled out on gurneys these days from nursing homes. No more than ten spaced-apart mourners can attend the service. “There will be deaths,” say politicians as they panic to reopen the country. In Italy they say the younger generation is now virtually without grandparents. After my three times around the park, I head back home. I want that feeling of longing to be back in the warm nest of my home after a trip away instead of hunkering down in it as my place to shelter. What I need is someone to blame. Besides the President. In ancient Greece, human scapegoats (pharmakos) were used to allay a plague. We need to draw lots like in “The Lottery” and stone someone. Instead, ill winds, a frozen spring.



Marc Frazier has published poetry for decades in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, The Gay and Lesbian ReviewSlant, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. He has memoir in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, et al. His fiction appears in Flash Fiction Magazine and Autre. His three poetry collections are available online. See Marc Frazier Author page on Facebook, @marcfrazier45 on Twitter, or marcfrazier45 on Instagram. 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.

Asunción, Paraguay. The Silence

by John Anthony Fingleton



I’ve never seen such silence,

Not a beggar child, or vendor is in sight,

Normally this thoroughfare is bustling –

But the Cruz del Chaco, this morning,

It is as silent as the grave –

Just as if flock of frightened birds, have taken flight.

The Lido Bar is all shuttered up,

Which in itself is a sight to see,

Normally it is open twenty-four hours a day.

And across the road at the Pantheon,

The sentries have disappeared-

The heroes must be lying in there confused and disarrayed.

Beyond the statue of the prancing lion-

Lies Juan O’Leary Park,

Before scene of some different fiesta everyday.

At night the place of homeless men,

Sleeping on the grass –

Right now the famous ’python’ tree, even seems afraid to sway.

Of course, I haven’t watched all this first hand –

But I’ve seen it on the daily news reports-

You need a great excuse to travel into town.

A little like John O’sullivan’s snaps,

Of what is happening back in Cork,

Two things they have in common – no one is around.



John Anthony Fingleton was born in Cork City, in the Republic of Ireland and lives in Paraguay South America. His poems have been published in journals and anthologies in Ireland, UK, USA, India, and France, including in Spillwords, Alien Bhudda, The Red Door, Piker Press,Super Poetry Highway, The Writers Magazine, and Ariel Chart. He has had three plays produced and was Poet of the Year (2016) for the Destiny Poets International Community. He has read his poems on Irish and American radio as well in Spanish on South American broadcasts. He has also contributed to four books of poetry for children. 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.

Plague Night


by Scott Pomfret


During a plague
First thing you do when you get to a city is 
Find the bars that are open all night.
Hands in Saran Wrap,
Scarf wrapped twice over your mouth, 
Swim goggles over bloodshot eyes,
You try to see in the empty streets, nothing 
But love. Absence is its evidence,
A great experiment in mutual regard.

But one tavern won’t take you 
Because you’ve not been here 
Long enough. Another objects 
To the scarf over your face, prohibited for fear 
Of a more immediate violence than plague.

You know the bars could secure 
Some of what you need.
You wouldn’t have come if it weren’t critical.
You beg them to see your humility,
As if it were a cure. Your spouse 
Is a physician, she can’t be sick, you guys 
Need the money, and she, well, she needs the acclaim, 
Which is one of a thousand things you can’t give her,
While the plague rages.



Scott Pomfret is author of Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic MemoirHot Sauce: A Novel, the Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails, and dozens of short stories published in, among other venues, EcotonePost Road, New Orleans Review, Fiction International, and Fourteen Hills. Scott writes from his tiny Boston apartment and even tinier Provincetown beach shack, which he shares with his partner of nineteen years. He is currently at work on a Know-Nothing novel set in antebellum New Orleans. 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.