Just Another Covid-19 Saturday

by Jackie Oldham


Saturday, March 28, 2020


I. Late-Night/Early Morning Supplication, 2:08 AM

Dark rain falls.
Drops spray
on the roof,
the windows,
the ground,
the grass,
the trees.

Not a hard rain
This time,
But a mist
In a shroud of fog.

Will the wetness
refresh the world
beyond my door?

Will this shower
lull me
to sleep?

The air is warm
and moist,
the heat turned off.
My brow is wet
with sweat.

I get up.
Take my temperature.
No fever.
Yet, a heat rises,
Spreading
Inside my forehead,
which, nevertheless,
is cool to the touch
but not clammy.

Before the rain
disrupted my train
of thought,
I was making my peace
with Death
Considered writing
an epitaph:

“Having lived much longer
than her premature birth
had suggested—
9.42 times
The mythical 7-year cycles
of life projected—
she was now prepared
to leave this world,
if God so willed.”

Not to save the Economy,
But to go to her
Rest in Peace,
Feeling Blessed.


II. The Silent Hours (Or, How I Remembered the Day), 3:38 PM

In my home, where I have lived
alone for 26 years,
I keep Silent Hours,
to hold the world at bay.

Beyond these walls and windows,
only rare noises break in.

The stray wail of a dog.

A car engine revving
as a neighbor
drives through the block.

A car door slamming
as the neighbor returns home.

Birdsong does not penetrate.
At least, not during the day.
Except for the coo, at dawn,
of a mourning dove
whose nest was once
my side porch light.

And only in the darkest hours
might a hoot owl’s call
pierce the night.

But these sounds of life
are not the ones that disturb me.

Rather, it’s the toxic noise
of the tv that threatens
to destroy me.

Within these walls,
the only sounds welcomed
are the metronome
of the clock,
the click of the
gas-fueled pump
that sends now-needed heat
through the radiators,
the periodic hum
of the refrigerator.

Not even the shrill bell
of the telephone
sounds today.
Telemarketers and scammers alike
are at rest.


III. How This Day Really Progressed (Fire and Rain)

Before 9 AM,
I was wrested from deep sleep
by loud rolling thunder,
followed by the wails
of fire trucks nearby.
For a minute or two,
I even smelled smoke
through the closed windows.

Soon, I was on my phone,
searching Facebook
for the latest news
and misinformation.

A neighborhood group
was reporting a fire,
just three streets over
from my home.

There were no reports
of injuries or
the extent of
property damage.

I hadn’t imagined the smoke.

Scrolling along,
I came upon reports
of another fire
in my quadrant of the city.

Dramatic photos
of a church steeple ablaze,
with commentary
from members
and neighbors nearby:

A historic Baltimore Catholic Church
(on the National Historic Registry)
had been struck by lightning,
and the top of the steeple—
a large metal cross—
had fallen headlong
to the ground!

Captured in flight
by our sole newspaper,
this improbable feat
was shared
ten times over
on Facebook newsfeeds.

Witnesses confirmed
that building remained intact,
as the pastor of the
now-Pentecostal congregation

vowed to rebuild
and thanked God
that its usual
Saturday-morning meeting
had been canceled.

Thus, many lives were saved
By Covid-19.



Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. Her poetry and essays appear mainly on her blog, baltimoreblackwoman. These writings have led to invitations to read her work at local venues [Ikaros Restaurant, Baltimore, MD (2018 and 2019)], for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019 and 2020), and the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry (available on Facebook). Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, a journal featuring Black Women writers. She is retired from a career as a production copy editor and trainer for a firm (originally Waverly Press) that specializes in printing and publishing scientific and medical journals and books. 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.

Taking It Back

by William Torphy


Wild life sees its chances
now that human life
has temporarily receded.
Coyotes howl in backyards
red foxes gaze bluntly
into hermit living rooms
strobed in blue light.
Birds wing more grandly
now the skies are free,
hawks swoop low
over empty patios
and asphalt parking lots.
Bees banned before
strike at windows
defying fatality, now
they know the sweet taste
of nature’s good life.
Even the thieven ravens
settle into coalescence
with avifauna of the easy sort
the robins & chirping sparrows.
Last night I heard the crash
of my trashcan, upended
by family possum, or
possibly a racoon posse,
leaving jumble for the deer.
This morning, a grass snake
slithered up to the front door
as if to brazenly declare,
“I’ll not be beaten back again.”



William Torphy’s poetry, reviews and articles have appeared in Sebastian Quill, Artweek, High Performance, Expo-see, and the Occupy SF anthology. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Bryant Literary Review and Arlington Literary Review. His political opinion pieces have been featured in blogs, including Solstice Literary and OpEdge. Ithuriel’s Spear Press has published Love Never Always (poetry), Snakebite (young adult fiction) and A Brush With History (biography). 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.

Small Gestures

by Marianne Forman


It’s the little things
Making sure there is a jar of Lysol wipes in every car
at every door entrance
even using one jar as a door stop

Offering to fetch vanilla creamer for me at the Piggly Wiggly
sugared clouds for my coffee
after waking at 3 am

Wiping down the door handles
until your palms are raw
and you smell of sterilized sanitation

Washing your hands before you hold mine
asking Are you ok?
And when I nod
unable to make eye contact
you ask Are you sure?

You remind me
I haven’t been sick
in almost seven years,
even though meds
designed to blunt
my entire immune system
are pulsing in my blood
doing their work.

You remind me
that even at Kara Tepe Refugee Camp,
a village filled with coughs and rashes
and people seeking asylum,
even there
where I welcomed refugees
to the camp clothing store
holding their feet in my hands
hoping for an acceptable fit of shoes,
even there
my lungs did not succumb.

You remind me
Love over fear.



Marianne Forman is now nurturing her own creative spirit after teaching middle and high school English for 32 years. She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016).  Marianne’s poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, among others.  She has a collection of poetry forthcoming in 2020 from Shadelandhouse Modern Press. 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.

Blue Juniper

by Effie Pasagiannis


Each day,
a dry hot spell,
allegiance set
aflame and separate
as we all emerged from
winter nests

It was a season of discontent
I called home,
where alone came in
bursts of isolated
states hurling insecure
pledges of belonging

On the ground
of this home,
I lay face up
squinting past
a sun blazing through
the opening,
blocks
of something hard
had surely fallen –

someone braver
dared

and so the weight of history,
sourced and polished
from marble quarry,
now sits on the bottom
of the well

next to my home
of shadow
and light,
Blue Juniper
cushioning me
as I tell time
with rain and cherry
wine

floating

(not drifting)

a movement of intent,
I finally join the chorus

hey hey, my my
out of the blue into the black.



Effie Pasagiannis is a NYC based lawyer, writer and curator. Her poetry has been featured in journals such as The Write Launch, Raw Art Review, Pen + Brush’s In Print Issue 1, and Stanford University’s Mantis Journal (April 2019). Her first poetry collection, Anagnorisis, was published by Dancing Girl Press with a launch event at Poets House in January 2020. She is working on two poetry chapbooks and a collection of short stories, one of which is being adapted into a feature length film by Nomadis Images (production slated for Spring 2021). As a curator, she collaborates with other writers and artists showcasing work in soul nourishing spaces. Effie looks forward to more of these readings and events post pandemic. 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 Middle

by Suzanne Stas


I broke my mind years, years back

I branched down a

dark careening, unshackled path.

Cobbles fell off at the end’s cliff.

I looked at, rolled fingers on, the rubble.


In the gulped drunken

haze that’s outside

This world crisis

I can barely tell,

If everyone else

is wettening in the corners of their eyes

or pushing out a hoarse, whipped laugh.

I can’t see from a stalled room—

where I can’t smell breath,

whether people follow orders

or triste or hibernate with sadness.

I’m in the middle of the room.

The floor is a burning inferno,

smoke raised to the top


I weep with the man in the middle of the road.

A yellow stripe vest.

A crossing guard turning with me,

watching me pass in an arch.

Turning with wonder as things move.


I’m stuck in the clouds of smoke.

I pinch someone,

to feel their skin wince

And suddenly I don’t need to

bandage my own wounds



Suzanne Stas lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her wife and two cats. She archives things, spins 78 RPM records, and travels when the air is right. She has work in Argot Magazine and Homology Lit. 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.

Leaving São Paolo

by Almond Syiem


Leaving conversations
About listening to enemies
The craft of compassion
When we do not agree
The radioactive substance
Of faith’s matrimony to power 

Leaving stories like
Pedro’s phone call to mama
From the kingdom of crack
Weeping son, missing home
The clandestine invasion
Of an undisciplined virus, ghost
Airports, dystopia falling 

Leaving bunkbeds
And Tylenol nights, wet
Undershirts and data conspiracies
I do not want to hear, the paucity
Of mourning for the dead
Who doggedly follow each other
To glutton graves baffles
The investigative heart 

Leaving sunset dialogues
About faith disrupting plans
The enigma of silence for
Thirty-two random bullets
Seeking certain salesmen
Of a noxious sugar, one traveling
To a boy’s heart in a Rio favela
Planet of ethical dilemma
For plotting assassination
Of genocidal leaders 

Leaving questions, speculating
Answers, indigenous anxiety
About the future, scarcity of jazz
And rare Bossa nova, finding
Friendships that will outlast
Pandemics, the poverty of love
When our opinions differ 

Blurred optics
Of slowing buses and
Glum bulldogs behind bars
Street soccer and raspberry
Teabags drowning, Bolsonaro
Clowning, his people clapping
Leaving behind unfinished
Sentences, riding the taxi
Again, mounting wings
Of supernatural patience
Again 



Almond Syiem is passionate about poetry, songwriting, storytelling, jazz and Jesus, whom he has been following for two decades in weakness, mostly. His works have appeared in journals and magazines including Indian LiteratureThe New Welsh ReviewArtem and Raiot. He has published two collaborative books: Sleepless, an ebook with Australian photographer Tim Wallis, and Everest, in ebook and hardback versions, with Australian sketch artist George Tetlow. Both are published by Heartland Press, Australia. He shares his poetry in his poetry blog, Poetic Logik, and short stories on his blog Story the JourneySabiyha 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.

Red Flags and Extra Ordinary Miracles

by Lori Corry


Kingston Hospital’s otherworldly oncology ward
was teeming with the gorgeous living kind.
They had names like Eve and Grace and Temperance,
the week my father died, their hands on my shoulders
reminding me that sometimes to love is to let it go.

A gentle push to save myself and someone else.

The knowing nod, the windshield wave, 
the sweet smiling woman in the old yellow toyota 
at Miacomet Ave and Surfside. 
We simultaneously slam on the brakes 
the man on the bike appears from nowhere.
Miraculous whispers to stop, to stop, to stop, to stop.

A gentle push to save myself and someone else.

It’s not how I’d expect the transmission to feel 
no winged beings appear, the sky does not open,
it’s more split-second decisions, the small moments,
the opportunity to tell the young mother with the tiny child 
playing in the surf from Somewhere far away 
that today’s rip tide is so strong, invisible forces 
pulling the living underneath the surface.

A gentle push to save myself and someone else

The old stones of evil are falling 
while the angels remain firmly planted.
Rosa rugosa scatters its brilliant pink petals 
all over the sand honoring all the beings
that could not be saved, still
I am standing here, at dawn.

A gentle push to save myself and someone else.



Lori Corry is a year-round resident of Nantucket Island, MA. She spends time investigating feminine divine energies and gaining creative inspiration from the stories and myths of our world’s many goddesses. Her poetry has been published in Chronogram Magazine and the Lily Poetry Review. 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.

Broken Haiku: A Day in the Life of a Shut-In

by Jessica Renee Dawson


Pandemic light
baptized in four walls
every morning

            Morning news
            a beaver takes a walk
           to the strip mall

Anticipation—
she waits for groceries
at her doorstep

            Nature quest
            she peaks through glass
            to glimpse sky 

Paper hearts
taped to the window
giving thanks

            Home care aide
          a medical mask
            veils her smile

Accessorizing
her pink-toed socks
match pyjamas

            Church pew:
           a computer chair overflows
           with prayer

Home hospital bed
the rising and falling
of her breath



Jessica Renee Dawson is a writer with disabilities living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. She has taken poetry and English writing through North Island College and workshops with award winning poets, Lynne Knight, and Jan Zwicky. Dawson’s works have appeared in journals including Poetry Quarterly, Haiku Journal, Under the Bashō, The Tulane Review, Wild Plum, and Wales Haiku Journal. In April 2020, she was a haiku contest winner with Penumbra Literary and Art Journal, housed in California State University-Stanislaus. 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.

Don’t you wish you had noticed

by Nancy Posey


without the reminder, this interruption
of what you thought was normal life,
appearing every year about this time,

the daffodils, growing here long before
you moved in, the hyacinths emerging
from bulbs you planted by the mailbox,
the rosebush from the cutting taken
from your Grandma Sally’s yard,
even the asparagus fern hiding
in a corner of the flower bed

Don’t you wish you had noticed

how they return with a faithfulness,
an abundance, a kind of multiplication
without the need for worksheets
bearing your marks of erasure
of self-doubt and disbelief

and don’t you wish you had noticed

the pink bow on the mailbox
around the corner, could it be
five years ago? Now notice the bicycle
with training wheels, a dad
running behind, holding her seat.

Is it too late now to ask her name?



Nancy Posey, an Alabama native who spent more than two decades in North Carolina (the Writingest State) now shelters in place in Brentwood, Tennessee. Failing at retirement, Posey is now an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at Lipscomb University. A voracious reader, she blogs about books at her site Discriminating Reader and writes book reviews for other publications as well. She writes regularly for Music City Music Magazine. She resumed writing poetry in 2008 and has loved connecting with the larger poetry community. She is co-host of the Black Dog Poetry Open Mic in Nashville, currently a virtual event. 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 Walk

by Thomas Allbaugh


Sometimes, out in the neighborhood,
the edge of our new world,
though with the few cars passing now,
I walk the same roads you did because
that’s what you did every day
those last years of high school,
though not as far and
not for as long,
nor with the same destination
the distorting
monsters offered your saddled
thoughts.
Shortness of breath
makes my walking further
impossible.



Thomas Allbaugh has published Apocalypse TV, a novel, and The View from January, a chapbook of poetry available from Kelsay Publishers. His stories, essays, and poems have appeared in a number of publications, including Broken Sky 67 and Relief. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he directs the writing program and teaches composition and creative writing. 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.