Untitled

by Jayanthi Sankar


Man, always a social animal
insists on 
social distancing 
now
the new man of the 
virtual world 
evolve
will the children born this year 
be intimidated to see the noses and mouths 
of the strangers on streets
when the world throws away masks 



Jayanthi Sankar has been in several international literary festivals, including the APWT 2018 at Gold coast. She loves reading fiction as much as experimenting with writing fiction. Her previous novel, Misplaced Heads, was on the Eyelands Book Awards 2020 final list in Greece. It made its mark – as an outstanding postmodern historical fiction of the decade. Her highly acclaimed work ‘Dangling Gandhi’ was the winner in fiction: short story in 2020 International Book Award American book fest. The Literary Titan award was another international award it also bagged apart from shortlists and nominations. She lives in Singapore. 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.

Observations

by Kim Klugh


I’ve been observing a robin nesting
in our juniper bush. I check on her again

while waiting for my daughter to arrive,
my June-born middle child, whom I’ve neither seen

nor heard much from in these many months. The early spring
temperatures recently plummeted and I worry

about the chicks’ survival should they hatch.
I wait all day for my self-reliant daughter to appear;

the pandemic has been hard on her and I wonder
where our conversation will wander. While

I’ve recently observed egg shell remains scattered
in the juniper branches–little empty cup halves

of pale blue–I’ve detected no evidence of new life in the nest.
My daughter arrives and we embrace without the need

of masks. It is good to see her face again;
she appears to be whole and intact. There isn’t much news,

given these many months filled with blank days;
she, who left the family nest early on, safeguards her independence,

and can be distant in more ways than merely miles.
We walk through the neighborhood and chat; she fills

the space between us with talk about her new job and condo.
She wants to be on the road before the traffic rush, and no,

she doesn’t need dinner, so we hug good-bye and I wave
as she smiles and drives away. After she is gone,

I spy an egg, fallen from the nest, seemingly whole
and undamaged (based solely on what I observe from its outer shell),

but then, what can I truly tell about the state of anyone’s survival 
when so much silence fills the space within?



Kim Klugh is an English/writing tutor. Her poetry has been published on Vox Poetica and Verse-Virtual. Several of her poems have appeared in two craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet and The Crafty Poet II. Her haiku has been published by her local paper in Lancaster, PA. She was also a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition community poem for Ahmaud Arbery, “Running for Your Life,” in May 2020. 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.

Two Weeks After My Second Moderna Shot

by Andrea Livingston


On my evening walk, a high-pitched sound swirls through
the pines, as if a windstorm were electrifying bare branches, 

as if their cones were clacking together like castanets.
But there is no wind tonight, only the bizarre buzz in the air. 

Could it be the roar of my neighbor’s lawn mower?
No, the shrill notes are falling from the highest limbs. 

Years ago, I heard a similar ruckus at a Day of the Dead
celebration. A couple were shaking their maracas so vigorously,

I feared their rattles would break, the beans
spill all over the street. But when they varied the rhythm, 

tapping the instruments lightly with their fingertips,
the vibrations rose into the night like hummingbird wings. 

I read billions of cicadas are returning to the East Coast
after 17 years underground where they’ve been busy 

digging tunnels, drinking sap from tree roots, preparing
to surface into sunlight to sing their seductive songs. 

Perhaps some have already decided to migrate to California
and sprout like crocuses from our fertile spring soil. 

Walking down the wooded path I’ve taken this long, silent year,
I imagine hearing their come-hither calls, reminding me it’s safe 

to inhale the evening air without fear of the blue-black vulture above.
I’ve learned there’s a time for silence, a time for song.



Andrea Livingston’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in MockingHeart Review, The MacGuffin, Rust + Moth, the 2020 Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Sky Island Journal, Rise Up Review, and elsewhere. Her poem “Paper Cranes” received honorable mention in the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Poetry Contest of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a public policy editor and writer. 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.

Pandemic Graduation (May 2020)

by Shannon Donaghy


My college graduation arrives in a box
and I take it upstairs with me to my new apartment
along with a new litter box and different litter
because my cat is picky
and, as such, shit all over my carpet. So, me,
the new cat bathroom, and
my graduation go upstairs together,
all of us in boxes.

I sink to the floor, close to where my cat shit earlier,
and I open my graduation and I mourn for a moment.
All of the new things I am tasked with getting used to
swarm around me, land on my shoulders,
ask me to ignore the moments – past tense –
that deserve fanfare.
Here is a list of things I don’t know:
How a vaccine gets approved by the FDA.
How people can hear scientific fact
and, like it’s a boot cut jean or a new hairstyle,
decide that it just isn’t right for them.
How Atlas holds up the sky every goddamn day
(it would be so easy to let go).
How any of us can function at all, given the circumstances.
How my graduation knew my new address
and made it to my apartment, despite our strained relationship,
the unspoken and unfinished thing sitting between us,
making both of us decidedly unreal.
How my cat knew to imitate the theme of my day.

Here is a list of things I do know:
The sun will rise tomorrow, in the east, like it always does.
My cat probably will not shit on the floor again.
We are not all in the same boat,
we are all in the same storm. I am lucky to have the boat I have.
Even so, I am still allowed to be bothered by the rain.
Celebration does not have to look like
a cap and a gown on a person.
I have still graduated and received a degree,
even if my graduation sits in a little brown box
in the back of my closet to collect dust and age, maybe forever.



Shannon Donaghy is a queer poet and writer from South Jersey, currently residing in Philadelphia. She is a book publicist and has the pleasure of working with authors and books from all genres. Her poetry can be found in Plum Tree Tavern, Red Cedar Review, The Normal Review, and more. When she is not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she enjoys hiking, painting, and wood burning. 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 Wise Curse

by Patricia Walsh


We are there, waiting to be glossed over
Trapped by the formulaic for years to come
Historically deprived of joy, rooting through detritus
Cleaning under orders, loving sanitised heads
Exiled out of school, running home again,
Some disallowed goal frightens the common ground.

Running through coffee, response already given
The sleeping joke capitalises on a miserable sin,
Too upright to be spoiled, genuinely caring
Married off to the threatened, shot dead
Together as role models, grinding angles away
The stock clichés running into a glorified stasis.

The cassette tape in its bulk sings merrily down the stream,
Mature recollection watching on a parked grace,
Strong or weak, going through the unloved type
Jokes and their distance pummeling their usefulness
The useful puns gone away from all recognition
Roaring into submission, the day flying away.

Commissioned into another blame, asking for it
Not alone the funniest, of course he’s fine!
The destructive urge crashes on a wave of crime,
Inward as it seems, taking the year off
Recovering at a premium, not seeing the light,
Walking on three legs at night, the wise curse.



Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Mourneabbey, in north Co Cork, and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday, Southword, Narrator International, Trouvaille Review, Strukturrus, Seventh Quarry, Vox Galvia, The Quarryman, Brickplight, The Literatus, and Otherwise Engaged. She published a chapbook titled Continuity DeeErrors in 2010 and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014. A second collection of poetry, Citizens Arrest, was published online by Libretto in 2020. A further collection of poetry, Outstanding Balance, is scheduled for 2021. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and is a regular attendee at the O Bheal poetry night in Cork city. 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.

In the Time of Covid

by Yvonne Zipter


The stoniest of my nurses, but she’d said yes
that day. It was my anniversary. In the lobby,
my love looked up, brown eyes so familiar,

I could have cried. It’d been six days.
She looked up and then she looked away.
Gowned, masked, carrying a plastic box

like an ant farm tunneled with fluid
from my lung, the tube to my chest
invisible beneath my gown, I was

a stranger to her. I called her name.
Two layers of cloth separated our lips.
It was the sweetest kiss I’ve known.



Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections Kissing the Long Face of the GreyhoundThe Patience of Metal (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist), and Like Some Bookie God. She is also the author of two nonfiction books: Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet. Her Russian historical novel, Infraction, will be published June 1, 2021. She is retired from the University of Chicago Press, where she was a manuscript editor. 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.

Unspoken Truce

by Lisa Reynolds


Always so late in the day
you emerge
wearing the same crumpled khakis
and loose-fitting shirt.

While you stagger
through a sun-filled room,
eyes shielded by dark glasses,
I wait – spine straight in chair.

But your spirit doesn’t rise –         
cutting words don’t flow from your lips,
only a low sigh, followed by  
“Not today, Mom.”

And so, we sit and drink coffee
on opposite sides of thick walnut –  
an unspoken truce between us
an unnatural quiet settling in.



Lisa Reynolds is a Canadian writer of poetry and short stories whose works are published internationally in anthologies, literary journals, and magazines. She lives in a waterfront community east of Toronto, Ontario. 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.

Another Coronavirus Spring

by Lana Hechtman Ayers


            after Molly Ellen Pearson

As soon as I open the window,
the sky climbs in dragging her
bridal train of clouds. I only
wanted to air out the pandemic
stale, instead there are kites
swooping over the kitchen sink
and hummingbirds buzzing
around the lampshade. Yesterday,
I thought my hand resembled
a piece of toast & I’m gluten
intolerant. My poor elderly cat
battles dust mice under the couch.
I wonder if I’ll ever sleep on
a raft of starlight instead of
underground, & whether my dog
dreams in color or stereo. Days
become inscrutable as kumquats
& I scribe lines of used dental floss
across the pages of my notebook.
Is it really spring or is the mud
pretending celebrity? Daffodils
solve the square root of yellow.
I zigzag from cupboard to closet
seeking a way to complete
the circuit of knowledge. My life
is forty paces, end to end. Coffee
aroma fills me with longing.
The computer screen flutters
with paper dolls, & lately I have
been struck blind looking in
mirrors, struck dumb gazing at
lettuce awaiting shredding
on the cutting board. What does
it take to make proper reparations
for being human? Some nights
the moon shouts in translated sun.
Some nights the moon is mute
& I buy raffle tickets for the rain.
I’m tired of shallow breathing, this
everlasting Gordian knot of grief.



Lana Hechtman Ayers has shepherded over eighty poetry collections into the world in her role as managing editor at three small presses. Her poems have appeared online at Rattle, Escape Into Life, Verse Daily, and The Poet’s Café, as well as in print journals and her nine published collections. She lives in an Oregon, USA town of more cows than people. 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.

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.

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.