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.

Pandemic Bird You Are My Highway

by Gloria Monaghan

All through March and April rains
I waited for the sprouting of the lilac tree;
the first fist of five green buds
split open to house a small pink cluster
tight buds so small you could pinch
them off and not notice them gone.
In your heart, you would say
that wasn’t me, that was someone else
pretending (to be me).

Robin in the backyard
you sit for hours unblinking
your red breast an affront
to the green day. In the discarded myrtle
the cat has dewinged you.
Now he presides over the strewn branches
licking his paw.
Sidekick he calls you, Robin
left as a prize, token, debris, spoil
of war not fought, slave of a king
unclaimed as you are in the yard.

I saw your eye outlined in yellow
and for years you did not blink but sat
like statue drawn up proud
left for dead.
                                    Only I knew you were alive dear
The cat has his back to you for much of the day.
Eventually the purple light comes through
dark branches, and I turn away
from it and take to my bed unable
to read even the slightest notification.
The lead man gone, a plump, dead
grey mouse in the side yard.
Fly away Robin with one wing
and one thought, and if you can’t fly
then crawl, under the fence and hide
till this is all over in the shelter
between the neighbor’s woodshed
and my own broken, moss eaten fence.

Gloria Monaghan is a Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston. She has published two chapbooks and three books of poetry. Her chapbooks include Flawed (Finishing Line Press) and Torero (Nixes Mate). Her books of poetry are The Garden (Flutter Press), False Spring (Adelaide), and Hydrangea (Kelsay Books). Her poems have appeared in Alexandria Quarterly, 2River, Adelaide, Aurorean, Chiron, Nixes-Mate, First Literary Review East, among others. In 2018 her poem, “Into Grace” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her book False Spring was nominated for the Griffin Prize. 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.

Rural Isolation

by Elaine Reardon

The crow calls after I’ve poured 
a second cup of coffee. The forest is quiet,
aside from Moss Brook, sound

splashing through the open window.
Wood frogs left eggs in the pond last night.
then went quiet this morning.

That crow was the only bird calling today.
No one answered its cry.
Have corvids socially isolated, too?

Spring is quieter this year
aside from those wood frogs
who know how to have a good time.

Right before dusk, they begin to carouse.
I almost hear Billy Strayhorn at 
the piano, and see trays with appetizers

and cocktails passed around the small 
vernal pool, where passion runs
fast and loose down there, just past the garden.

Elaine Reardon is a poet and herbalist. Her first chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, won first honors from Flutter Press in 2016. Her second chapbook, Look Behind You, was published by Flutter Press in late 2019. Most recently Elaine’s poetry and essays have been published by Pensive Journal, Naugatuck Journal, UCLA Journal, and several recent anthologies. 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.

The Bird of Stillness

by Paola Caronni

Your voice echoes in the stillness
Of malady, silence,
The roads brought to a halt,
The cars at night like rare blinking of eyes.
Only drilling still continues on a slope nearby.
Landslides must be contained at all costs.

You’re loud and frank,
The anchor of our shipwrecked minds.
There’s still life
Beyond this curtain
That fell to end the play:
Ladies and gentlemen,
We’ll welcome you later again.

Sharp and unapologetic,
Sunrays, winds or rain you’re there.
We treasure your recurring calls
On our repetitive days.

We feel there’s some continuity among
The verdant and the noisy inhabitants of the Earth.
As long as there are trees with limbs,
Sing and dance.
You’ll be there, calling your mate,
Telling us
To hold on, stay awake.

Paola Caronni hails from Italy and lives in Hong Kong. She works as a translator and Vice-Director and Editor of the online magazine Ciao Magazine. Paola holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Hong Kong and an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Milan. Her poems have been included in various poetry collections and on poetry journals and publications. Paola regularly attends poetry readings and loves organising poetry events. 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.

One Quarantine Morning Before Spring, an abstract notion

by p.c. scearce

Simply an amazing selection to be as 
notations of thought,
of this skim 
along the surface, 
light faded up to 
darkness from 

and we turn into galaxies 
where solitudes are only left 
lasting to acknowledge them in 
this disappearance where 
we’re all just allowed to
wreak the solo tango.

To these times the early birds 
go on chattering 
and we are silence as
clocks too go where
each parts vowel 
to each piece verb
towards a pluck 
pick of constellations—
enter as twitters as matters 
of clause. 

So many birds, so the many 
species in their separated phonics,
We seem to their distinct

All we try to decipher before morning 
stops until what is left 
are just the few coatings,
catching us up as 
the past night’s gossip. 

To believe life still goes on alongside us 
so long now and all which is 
found there settles 
upon itself before
a solitary note’s sang is 
too sweet a tune 
riddled to itself—
as like our bedfast days 
at its own world but 
perplexed as does
that all’s become. 

It is true too, to find it in 
nestling flocks of birds 
found here, all of us
as clumped cramped
as heads swivel to 
everyone that’s 
a variable we cling 
to ourselves—
we define as our
orbits to go ‘round 
and around the circles 
spun to this.

We’ve left to disentangle 
each his or her very verse, 
and as if through time, 
if by shape it were what 
one would call them—
what forms as new now
a word, a world in shiny
newness to discover
just becoming to language—
mouth it out as just as
those same shapes we
leave to cling onto.

One of us could change it within itself. 
Listen to it. Feel it too. The proximity 
of letters astonishing as this seems,  
we are but exactly like words just
pressed down awhile awaiting.

p.c. scearce (aka Phillip Calvert Scearce) is the author of god in flight (2003, Poetblu Publications); his second collection of poems Among the Confessional Relics is forthcoming from Poetblu Publications in July 2020. His poems have appeared in HIV Here & Now: World AIDS DayScreen Door Review, Euantes, and Ember as well as two compilations from Averett College: The 1993 Poets, and The 1994 Poets, and in Super Stoked: An Anthology of Queer Poets from the Capturing Fire Slam & Summit edited by Regie Cabico (Capturing Fire Press), and LoveJets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman edited by Raymond Luczak (Square &Rebels Press). p.c. scearce is originally from South Central Virginia and currently resides in Washington, DC, with the permission of his two feline companions, Reneseme and Chance. 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.

The House by the Shore

by Matthew Hunt

All day long we sensed the storm
That now is here with evening’s rise
I lie by the upstairs window
In a single bed with the old quilt
And watch the trees pulse
With that mysterious dark force.

I cannot see the lake,
But I hear it.

The waves lap gently in the cove
Despite the growing tempest.
The house, the quilt, the wind,
They smell of everything I once was,
A crowd of dreams and hope,
And ripe childhood that bursts into summer.

Now I am a man,
And live without fear,
But oh how the wind shakes me to the core.

Matthew Hunt is a burgeoning poet, outdoorsman, and a traveler of the world. He was born and raised in southern Georgia. He currently lives in Washington, DC, with is wife and children. 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.


by John Hicks

Chachoengsao Province, Thailand
Hot Season

Where the raised highway turns south,
goes on to Chonburi and beyond it to Pattaya,
where it lifts over a local canal,
a boy, knee-deep in a farm pond
washes a black water buffalo,
splashing its flanks with cupped hands. 
Beyond the boy, late morning sun reflects
on distant white walls and steep orange roof
of a Buddhist temple.  I have time, so I turn

onto the first gravel road running east,
hoping it will take me there.  I’m leaving
the clamor of the capital for the weekend,
heading to the beach. 

The temple sits on high ground
in a flooded surround of sky-dipped rice fields.  
It’s like a stand of pines

that rose above sagebrush and manzanita
in the mountains near Julian, north of San Diego.  
The lowest branches were above my head;
filtered light into sanctuary silence.  
Their scent shut out the world,
imprinted a mental refuge. 

Gilded finials, like antlers of mythical deer,
leap from the edges of the tiled roof.  
I park outside the grounds. 

On the southern horizon, B52s
lift from the runway at Sattahip,
motionless like small dark clouds. 

I leave my shoes on the steps.
It’s cool inside. Incense. 

In the quiet, I wait for my eyes to adjust. Sun
has warmed the sills of the tall, narrow windows
and laid a square of light on the floor beneath.    
In the middle of the open floor a large statue
of a seated Buddha is on a platform that raises it
to eye-level. A woman is praying, a lotus flower
between her palms, and a boy in his school uniform
applies a square of gold leaf to Buddha’s forehead. 

A bent, elderly woman, her sarong gray and blue-
patterned and tucked at the front in the old style,
encourages me with gestures to offer a prayer.  
So, I do—thinking of the pines; of how like this is.  
And I press half of a baht-square of gold leaf
onto Buddha’s right ear.  The other half

is sticking to the sweat of my finger curling
over the steering wheel as I drive away.  Last year,
the stand of pines burned up in a forest fire. 

John Hicks, an emerging poet, has been published or accepted for publication by South Florida Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Bangor Literary Journal, The Wild World, Two Cities Review, Blue Nib, Poetica Review, and others. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Nebraska, Omaha, and writes in the thin mountain air of northern New Mexico, USA. 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. The photo shows the aftermath of a forest fire.

Somewhere Out There, a Heron Waits—

by Luisa Aparisi-França

I read the other day
that we’ve lost the art of deep listening.
I close my eyes and let sound flow through me
like a spool spinning a thread
a contraption as old
as the stories we tell ourselves.

We thought that our old neighbors had died.
But thankfully, the bag on the door
held their masks, not week old trash.

Upon closer inspection, nothing feels the same.
I watched my favorite bar host a live jazz night
on Instagram Live—offer up their French wine
for takeout at 20% off.

All the restaurants are withering at the roots.
Which means farms are leaving tons of squash
to rot in the fields.

When I pull up for curbside pick-up
the store manager loads my groceries into my trunk              wordlessly.
I don’t like how we’re reducing others to functions
as if we’re all becoming this virus
a strange clot protesting in the streets
that our bodies will not be held hostage
to inconvenience.

I wish I had more words to express, other than thank you
through a lowered window as the manager walked away.

On Twitter, a lady writes:
If I had known that the last time I had sex
was the last time I was gonna have sex—
I would have sexed harder.

I have many questions, like
when will the uprising start?
And why is it that everything they said we couldn’t do
is now being done?

It’s like I’m watching a chicken bone
slowly dissolve in vinegar
in sixth grade science class
all over again.

One night, I had heart palpitations
after I ate a THC gummy during quarantine
to “shake things up” a bit.
I’m better now but still
wait for a check that never comes—
it’s like I’m standing in my doorway, waiting—
which I never do
except for the great heron that rested
every morning on top of the pink
squat building across the canal from mine—
all long-legged and poised as a needle—
it’s wings readying itself for flight
drawing inwards—like the rest of us.

Luisa Aparisi-França is a poet from Miami, Florida. She believes that language has the power to be a tool of empathy, and that poetry can connect people in the same way that it links consecutive thought. Follow her on Twitter @lapafranca. 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. 


by Cal Freeman

We count the disembodied peril by half-life.
A driver leaves a residue on a package.
I can’t see it, but it exists vividly
in my imagination like a nimbus of gnats
around a dog’s hot breath.
I lift it from the tin mailbox
and press it to my coat. I want to bury it
and forget it, or bury it for three days
and let another being unearth it. Three-day
increments seem reasonable. A couple
squirrels skitter from the garbage can
next door. They’ve chewed holes in the lid
and spend their time pilfering trash
and darting between the ghost of the gone
white oak and the porch stoop.
Because of their skittering to bury
what they will never eat themselves,
they end up with half-tails
from close brushes with dogs or hawks
or, worse, tire-tread patterns over
fur and tiny torsos. They are gerunds
in the subject position, uncoiled
agentless action. They never make it
anywhere, don’t even decide
which distance for eternity to halve.
Theirs is the looping circuitry of the manic,
the restive chattering of ones who fear
both sleep and what the dawn reveals
about pre-dawn predations. Fur and bones,
fear down to bones. I’m measuring the gone
oak in my mind and thinking of Mandelbrot’s
coastline paradox, how each unit’s precision
lengthens the object being measured,
how even dead trees squirrel
out of circumscription with the jagged,
exponential growth of fractal crowns:
lobed, alternately attached, margin lacking teeth,
is how the guidebook describes leaves.
Once there was a bur oak in front of that house,
and a nest of squirrels died
when the tree was felled. I’m thinking
of Zeno’s paradox of the half-life: if a point
takes up zero space then a squirrel
must loop endlessly between the gone tree
quark and the garbage can quark.
Each squirrel is an asymptotic function
plotted along the axis bole.
After they felled the tree, they ground the stump
and mulched the garden, but it won’t die
this decade. Its roots palm
the foundation of the house. Rock salt
won’t make them die. Is it make them die
or kill them? If today we are accepting
edicts, let the squirrels do the bidding
of tomorrow’s trees. If today we believe
the flurries have an aerosol life that exceeds
their slow descent, let Cantor dust fragment
into the page’s white and set the half-
life at however many hours might
bring you peace. Let nothing be polemical.
Let the turf between points of zero space
divide itself forever. Let the acorns ping
from carport and car alike and when the wind
picks up, let the leaves sing like a lakeshore.
The squirrels forage the now-gone
hyper-present because they know
there’s bounty in what does not
to our eyes exist, a ramet that can’t
be stricken with blade or bight. Let us inherit
such a theory of foraging and space, let us trade
the carbon in these bones to mycelium for water,
let us send small animals out
on happy accidents and call it life,
let us sense the indecorous presence before
it comes and release the medicine
to all that will outlast us.

Cal Freeman is the author of the books Fight Songs and Brother of Leaving. His writing has appeared in many journals including Posit, The Journal, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Drunken Boat, and Southwest Review. He is the recipient of The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and Passages North’s Neutrino Prize. He currently serves as music editor for The Museum of Americana: A Literary Review. He regularly reviews collections of contemporary poetry for the program “Stateside” on Michigan Public Radio. His book Poolside at the Dearborn Inn is forthcoming from R & R Press in 2022. 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. The work that illustrates this poem is called “Varied Thrush” with Squirrel and Stellar Jays.

Truths in Consequences

by Michael H. Brownstein

Within a winter squashed sky,
a Frisbee of cloud, purple lit,
frozen icons on the beach,
a monster on the sand,
a madman in the water,
and nearby, a wintering wren
crashes into the icy barrier of heaven.
No, this is not a poem of winter
beauty, nor does it have a spiritual aspect
darkness and light, love in our soul.
None of this is as important
as the image of sunlit glitter
flashing its nakedness across the lake,
a boundary of anguish and glory.
We come to the streets to watch
the wind pick up dead brown matter,
two honey locusts drowning 
under the weight of dead leaves
hanging from every branch
as if they were all of the bats
men murdered before they realized
they, too, were not demons.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published, including in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. His chapbooks include The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). His latest volumes, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019), were recently released by Cholla Needles Press. 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.