Ben Gunn Syndrome: A Pandemic Parable

by Mell McDonnell


So, white hair wafts about his ears,

and. swatch of ragged thoughts billow around his shoulders.

Notched stick tells days, week, months, and maybe years.

Marooned.

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.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

by Mell McDonnell

The Last of the Pandemic Poems 

I’m thinking of the way
we used to go off

like Roman Candles, laughing
like sparklers—to

theatre, concert hall, dinner with friends,
even the grocery store, going

the long way round
just for the fun of it, so

yes, yesterday, when,
everything (or nothing)

might be beginning, again—
and was, or wasn’t,

but who knew it then, and now
it’s walk into empty rooms

and say, “Why did I come here?”,
existential question, replaced by

“Where are my glasses?”
“What was her/his name?”:

accumulation of absences,
when even the cats are dying,

and words  drip:
longing, lassitude, torpor, stupor, sluggish—
clawing at fog,

but maybe this year is only
a wide parenthesis, and this sentence

will end.
What’s next?

Continents, earthquakes, oceans of air.  .  .  .
Oh, hit me with happiness—

we’re still here.



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 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.

Late Quarantine Thoughts on Vietnamese Cold Noodles and Grilled Pork Patties

by Terry Kirts


How can I make a salad without my hands?
I try with gloves, but the noodles skid
against the rubber, the mint bruises
where I pluck it from its stem. Cilantro
blackens, frail devil, out of spite. I might as

well bare skin to the guest who has breathed
in my kitchen, spit toothpaste in my sink.
Who among us isn’t doomed? Lime and fish
sauce sting my knuckles, reminding me
I’m permeable, I’m cut, that blood, too,

seasons the dressing. Thus a simple supper
on a cool May night feeds the heart its iron,
its hyssop. Could we, like kings and tsars,
have tasters to take the noble fall
for our enemies’ venom? Still, we sigh

at sharp flavors of shallot and grill smoke,
knowing there are greater joys than long living.
Aren’t all meals prepared with love
also tinged with inescapable risk? We each
wash our own plates, as if it keeps us safe.



Terry Kirts is the author of To the Refrigerator Gods, published in the Editor’s Choice series in poetry by Seven Kitchen’s Press in 2010. He is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. His poetry and essays have appeared in such journals as Third Coast, Gastronomica, Alimentum, Sycamore Review, Green Mountains ReviewTaco Bell Quarterly, Presence, and Another Chicago Magazine, as well as the anthologies Food Poems and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana. His culinary articles and restaurant reviews have appeared widely, and he is currently a dining critic for Indianapolis MonthlyRalph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Shelter in Place

by Daniel Benyousky


March 30th, 2020: The day the shelter in place order was extended in Texas until 4.21.20

It rained all yesterday, so cold and wet,
and yet today, the sun is shining bright,
the birds are warbling little tunes that translate
the weather’s warmth into the hearts of all
the legions gathered densely in the park. Troops
of runners passing close like soldiers side
by side, some three astride on the bursting
path. Nearby, frisbees fly like whetted blades.
The Redwood Shelter parking lot explodes
with crowds as if it were any other day.
And the swollen Brazos’ surface mirrors
the verdant shoreline in its stillness, yet
one day the river will rise after the storms
and clutch and bind us in its thoughtless arms.



Daniel Benyousky is from Los Angeles, California and lives in Texas. He is a poet, English professor, and former therapist. His poetry and prose have been published in The Los Angeles Press, Paideuma, and Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, among other places. He writes poetry to remember who he is and to know those around him, where language might offer a geography of our experiences. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

The Mask’s Weight

by Amanda Anastasi


It is not the mask that restricts you.
This thin covering of cloth

may slightly dampen the tenor
and reverberation of your voice

and cloak the creases around
your smiling or pursed mouth

and leave just your eyes to say it all.
It is reminding you of the ever

present gag you nod yes to daily
and weave your life through

and around; that invisible hand 
upon your mouth, propped up

and fixed in place by your own.
There are ample spaces between

for self-expression, making
the window bars more tolerable

and almost appear as though
they are not actually there.

You must realise now
and perhaps you always have

that a bird can remain in its cage
when the door has been left

open for hours. You are
and always have been free.



Amanda Anastasi is an Australian poet living in Melbourne who has been published in journals both locally and internationally, from the Australian Poetry Anthology to The Massachusetts Review. Her debut poetry collection is 2012 and other poems and she is also the co-author of The Silences with Robbie Coburn (Eaglemont Press, 2016). Amanda is a two-time winner of the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and recipient of a 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. She is currently Poet in Residence at the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub until 2022, where she is writing poetry to raise awareness on ecological issues and the climate crisis. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Joseph Cornell and Houdini

by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt


(Joseph Cornell watched Houdini perform at Coney Island in 1905 when he was a young boy.)

There are all kinds of boxed-in worlds. 
Boxes that trap memory. 
Boxes that enclose and hold in desire. 

A miniature woman, looking like Frieda Kahlo,
Is suspended in her shallow wooden box. 
Held up by threads, filaments attached
to a firmament in wood. 
Perched in air,  her blue cobalt
flowered skirt fanned out like a miniature
parasol,  she hangs there paralyzed 
in her etherized world. 
Waiting to be set free.  Or maybe not. 
Maybe she’s suspended in a moment of desire. 

In another box of his the firmament is dreamed
black with specks of stars, a petrified cosmos. 
Miniature constellations, like flecks of white dust,
splatters of paint in patterns, held in place.
Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, the North Star
in a spangling of hope.  And in the front of the box
fluted large emptied wine glasses speak
of once human presence.  A couple perhaps
staring out at the  night sky.  Remembering their youth.
Their desire to break free.  Their unfettered longing.

Did the young boy who watched Houdini    
swathed in black cloth  then shut in a trunk
and finally emerge to gasping crowds
imagine the lure of boxes trunks and closed in spaces?
What they could provide.  
And did Houdini love that feeling of crouching
wreathed in chains, inside a trunk, 
in utter darkness set down in the sea?
Hunched over, did he have the pleasure of
suspended motion, of hearing only his sharp intakes of breath?
Did time stop for an instant as he remembered    
his surge to the surface of the sea
then the quiet return to dark depths?

Did they both crave circumscribed worlds?
That solitude, that silence,
that stillness of memory?



Jan Zlotnik Schmidt’s work has been published in many journals including the The Alaska Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, and  Kansas Quarterly..  Her work also has been nominated for the Pushcart Press Prize.  Two volumes of poetry were published by the Edwin Mellen Press (We Speak in Tongues, 1991; She had this memory, 2000) and another, Foraging for Light recently was published by Finishing Line Press. (2019). Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

New Pens

by Victoria Crawford and George R. Ross


New pens, new pens came in the post!
desired cartridges colored rainbow
just when I’m an isolation ghost,
bright writing created to glow

Old fashioned fountain pens I’d bought
new pens, new pens came in the post!
Stay-At-Home delay, I forgot
they arrived when needed the most

Package and bubble wrap engrossed
dull day surprise striptease unwrap—
new pens, new pens came in the post—
like treasure spread across my lap

Colors and words dance in my mind
solitary, joy uppermost
letters, poems, beauty filled time
new pens, new pens came in the post!



Victoria Crawford and George R. Ross, strangers retiring in Thailand, met in a poetry appreciation and writing group and became collaborative poets that have had their works published in journals such as Pensive Stories, Braided Way, Cold Noon, and Active Muse. George returned to his family and now lives in Boston, MA, while Victoria is still in Chiang Mai with her husband and other family. Their partnership continues through email. Older with pre-existing conditions, both spent months in isolation and lockdown, where poetry was a guide to the possible. This poem appeared previously in Highland Park Poetry’s Poem a Day in November Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

Coming Out of Quarantine (A City Dweller’s Story)

by Cassandra Pereira 


I don’t even care if a dog peed here
I think as I nestle myself
into the base of this tree
making a nest of it
not like a bird
not like a dog
but like a human.

Blades of grass lush around my legs
I get lost in the tiny world they shade
discovering that dear sight—I forgot
how I love it, have missed it:
a broken bit of leaf
     conspicuously on the move.

I’ve read an ant will pilgrimage 
100 yards
      to feed the queen;
2,000 each way I travel today

      to feel the Earth
                   soft beneath
a long journey

a long while beating my feet hard
against all the unyielding concrete
between my door and this moment. 



Cassandra Pereira is a writer, artist, and creativity coach with degrees in creative writing and education, and a background in neuropsychology.  Her work is dedicated to fostering peace and joy through creativity and contemplation. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

My Zoom Graduation

by Stephen Paul Miller


         delivered to our graduating English majors, May 20, 2020

Keeping vigil with one who has left   
Never again responding   
Not recognizing the time of death  
One’s face in starlight.   
    What’s a poem? A bunch of words creating feedback and taking off on  
    it not slowing on the curves then climbing overtones in the valley’s mist  
    graduating for now looking down on your global lit class where astral  
    cams zoom and make you think hmmm you are the stars in the night.  
    In our hole settling down preparing you you you for who who who  
    knows if you can make it anywhere you’ll do it in New York with no  
    one there a virus and a flu too tired to infect anyone fall asleep in each  
    other’s arms—don’t begrudge them, crane up your social distance—  

the camera is the star  

in a Busby Berkeley flying rug—Berkeley, friends call him Buzz, a  
    mind-altering Hollywood choreographer who in Gold Diggers of 1935  
    at last directed even non-dance parts in synchronized story rhythm, is  
    recording multitudes flowing up in budding phantasmagoric Keynesian  
    lenses through which the first macroeconomy looks down from over  
    sixty feet in the air—Buzz puts holes in every WB ceiling—and for the  
    last few years you’ve been looking down and still are but now you’re in  
    it—  
                                                in everything for the first time—  
                                                                      the dancer and the Busby one.  

His films bring on superheroes—in ‘38 Superman creator Jerry Siegel  
appropriates “Lois Lane” from Lola Lane—star of Busby’s ‘38 Hollywood  
     Hotel  and Jimmy Cagney’s torn Footlight Parade producer/hoofer character’s  
    “Kent.”  

As if from the mythic heights of your English class Busby is filming the  
    ethereal “Shadow Waltz” of Gold Diggers of 1933—Please see https://www.youtube.com/watch
v=TAH0IKUk3aE
:  
everyone on high spiraling wooden ribbons, dancing in and out of hang- 
    ing mirrored floors becoming one and many neon violin(s), with one  
    and many neon bow(s) pulsing your kaleidoscopic eye where Buzz sails  
    his trapeze through citizens as music/music as citizens  
             swirling below and in his floating camera boom perch  

        when much like the current pandemic  
the massive 6.4 Long Beach earthquake rocks LA knocking out power  
    throwing Busby off his flying dance directing boat thirty feet above us.  
    Hanging by a hand, his cinematographer pulls him up.  
    Sensing dancers in the dark falling off flight upon flight of narrow rising  
    runways, Buzz shouts  

“No one move till someone opens a door and lets in some light!!!”  

            That’s the president we need that’s you.  



Stephen Paul Miller is preparing his next book of poems, Beautiful Snacks (Marsh Hawk Press). He’s a Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York, where he live on East 8th Street. His ten books include The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance (Duke University Press), There’s Only One God and You’re Not It (Marsh Hawk) and Being with a Bullet (Talisman). Venues where he’s been published include Best American PoetryPublisher’s WeeklySalon, Barrow Street, New American Writing, Posit, and the New York Daily NewsRalph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.