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.

My Universal Poem

by Dena Parker Duke


I want to write the universal poem that isn’t just about
my little cog on a gear or about our incessant 
bickerings about turning in tandem, or not 

But about the cosmic egg that has an outer realm that reaches 
a higher plane than any of us and allows Light to 
shed over the hemispheres of our longing

Only to take a cosmic turn to let us rest while it reminds the other 
side of the same while one side dreams the other side lives
with their own receding and rising tides

I want to rise above where only ants can see their comings
and goings to where no gear has teeth that can bite
only colors and shades and movements

Where we are colored only by our place on the turning
only by the need for shade in relation to survival
each a magnificent Speck



Dena Parker Duke is an Idaho poet who has been playing with words for decades, first as a means to overcome her own isolation and loneliness, then as a grade school teacher who loved language. She’s now retired and is still using writing to guide her through the mysteries of life.  Dena has published poetry in Pearl magazine, Standing: Poetry by Idaho Women, a 2 volume collection of art and poetry entitled From You I Receive, To You I Give: A Collection of Art and Poetry Celebrating Social Justice and the book In Your Bones: Poems of Radical Forgiveness. 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.

Some Times

by Tyler Letkeman


Sometimes I forget for a few seconds

And think of where I’ll take you for supper

Some minutes I lean against the window

And hope that anyone, anything will pass by

Some hours I lay on the couch

And somehow end up in the dark

Some days I can’t shake the feeling

That I’m throwing good rabbits after bad

And I can’t remember if that’s even a thing

Some weeks I cut up snack apples

And then cut apples for snacks

Some fortnights I don’t even have the energy

To think of a joke about the game

Some months I forget the days

And the weeks all blend together

Some seasons I obsess over the season

And why our snow won’t melt

Some years, I’m told,

Have only been a month



Tyler Letkeman is a husband, father, brother, son, teacher, learner, reader, nerd, artist, scientist, poet, traveller, vacummer, shy guy, and general-life-enjoy-er. He is the creator, editor, and web-master of four lines, a poetry and art magazine that aims to get to the heart of things as simply as possible, and has recently self-published his first collection of poems, Gaia’s New Clothes. 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.

Virtually Two Miles from School

by Katherine Laufman


Ear fearlessly pressed against 
my teenage daughter’s door, 
unobtrusive like a female British detective.
DCI Jane Tennyson would be proud.

My girl is laughing in blossom
bursts, like the shifting spring breeze.
Toes on warm floorboards, knees balancing
a crackling laptop. 

She’s a virtual girl, a “Zoomie,” 
her classroom and its people piped
into her room. At first a sloppy pandemic
epiphany, now an exhausting necessity.

In a Zoom breakout room, 
they’re breaking down
genetic code until the connection
breaks: disrupting her signal, 
stinging sharp, like a sudden ousting
from locker talk. Her friends, far off,
unreachable.

Tensing with her verbal vacancy, 
I begin whispering an unheard
reminder, our daily mantra: 
“Give yourself grace, 
even when the show on the screen
goes on without you.”

My breath dammed, bursting only
when I know she is reconnected;
her room once again resounding
with far off familiar voices
falling like
Camellia
confetti
in the garden.



Katherine Laufman lives in Northern California and  is a former Special Education Teacher and small town newspaper editor. She has a B.A. in English from Colorado State University. She had several poems published when she was fresh out of college, then life happened.She is enjoying her renewed fascination with writing poetry after a 28 year hiatus. 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.

Plague Diaries – April 11, 2020 (an acrostic)

by Jennifer Hernandez


Chalk drawings of rainbows 
and hearts in the windows
let me believe that
my mother will survive the full-
blown pandemic predicted to fill
emergency rooms two weeks
from tomorrow; even though her
oncologist is “on vacation”, Mom’s on the
road to recovery, or so we believe, since
Easter is nothing, if not a time to
trust the stories we tell ourselves. I whisper,
hum, chant, beg, pray that
every little thing will be alright, like it
says on the sign at the house on
tenth street, where the couple sits
on camp chairs in their driveway sipping
rum and cokes, waving and smiling at
me, as I walk, walk, walk my old black lab.



Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. She has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage, a taxidermy-filled bike shop, and a community garden. Recent publications include Ekphrastic ReviewTalking StickVerse-Virtual, and Silver Birch 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.

Because you laughed when I said the world needs poetry

by Jaime Speed


I tried to tell you the world
needs poetry as much as a vaccine
I read strangers’ faces like tarot cards for signs
of myself in the smashed cauliflower of their worry

I catch the rattling in my bones again, the pitch
of my favourite song and no one stops
me from listening to it 37 times a day
like the flash of whiskers your memory stipples to my thigh
I chart the stars with my teeth
grinding dot to dot connecting the world
needs teeth whitening, gym time, vitamins, fresh music, less
freckling, less skin, less self, less silence, more sirens
tangled hair, family ties, a row of dog ends dancing
in your patchwork quilt saved
for later, singed but not burning, we handle
threads & bits of fabric like lock downs, enforced
alone time, a space big enough
to outgrow ourselves

isn’t so bad our horoscopes
predict disqualification, it’s ok
to write the whole year off
as long as next year
we’re gonna get away with it
the world is a syndrome
and we’re just the symptoms matching
the bane with our own grit
I brush my teeth 7 times a day
left-handed, hands washed
7 times more, no body
sees this part in the movies
the braiding and unbraiding of hair
re-watching the lifecycle of ladybugs
empty arms anxious to rake up
their springtime shells in a jumble
of unearthed debris the year over
heaped up and hauled away
with the defamed ruins of last year’s garden
know that I hear you when you say
you hadn’t meant to leave it
so untended, it’s ok, dear, the world
needs forgiveness for a crime it didn’t commit



Jaime Speed lives, works, and plays in Saskatchewan, Canada. A fan of reading, gardening, throwing weights, and dancing badly, she has recently been published in The Rat’s Ass ReviewDear Loneliness ProjectHobo Camp ReviewAnti-Heroin Chic, and OyeDrum Magazine, with work forthcoming in Psaltery & Lyre and Channel along with collections by Ship Street Poetry and Gnashing Teeth Publications. 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.


Easter, 2020

by Carlene M. Gadapee


Rough from so many ritualistic washings, twenty seconds each time,

                        “I will wash my hands in innocency, so will I compass thine
altar, O Lord…”

my ripping, winter-soft hands grasp and claw at dead things,

intent on scratching some small space for beauty. Brittle leaves,

                        “Take off the grave clothes…”

splintered grass, wind-blown paper and snow-faded candy wrappers

give way. Shifting raised forms into position feels like faith.

I find daffodils.



Carlene M. Gadapee teaches high school English in Northern New Hampshire, and her work has been published by or is forthcoming in such journals as the Aurorean, Backchannels, The Blue Nib, Fishbowl Press, Northern New England Review, Thimble, Think, and English Journal. She lives in Littleton with her husband, a bossy chi-pin dog, and two beehives. 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 Forgotten Mask

by Jackie Oldham


Monday morning,
Cold and steel gray,
The old lady drove to the convenience store
With steely confidence
For milk and bread
To start her day.

She strode into the store,
Gathered her items,
And placed them on the counter.

The counter lady asked
“Where your mask, sweetie?”
The old lady cried out, high-pitch laughing,

“Oh My God! I left it in the car!”

And slapped her left palm over
Her mouth and nose,
While inserting her debit card        
To pay for her sundries.

Taking the shopping bags,
Left hand still serving as her mask,
She elbowed open the convenience store door,
Got back in her car,
And drove home, chagrined (but still laughing)—
Wondering how she could have forgotten
The damned mask.



Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She has read her work at local venues, for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019, 2020, and upcoming on February 10, 2021), and for the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry. Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, an online and print literary journal featuring Black Women writers. Three of her poems have been published: “Golem Emet” and “I Don’t Want to Play The ‘Capitol’ of Edition of Clue™” in Oddball Magazine and “Just Another Covid-19 Saturday” in Global PoemicSabiyha 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.

Dystopian Times

by MW Murphy

 
A Professor at my school

         has the virus

came in email

         last night

 take cover

 stay home.

In newly cloistered world

feel the crevices

the refractions of light

take joy in first greenings

         early spring

mourn still moist base of tree

         newly cut

amidst sun’s slowly warming rays

         protective

         against dystopian times.

Feel feel it all

         anger pain love

then ensconced alone

at keyboard

creating calm

followed by tensions

       rising

even lost in moments

       happy.



MW Murphy writes both fiction and poetry. She has a short piece of fiction in the anthology Gathered Light (Three O’Clock Press, 2013) and another in the anthology A Shadow Map (CCM, 2017). She has poems in the international poetry anthology series The Art of Being Human (2015) as well as We Are Beat – the “National Beat Poetry Foundation Anthology” (Local Gems Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in online poetry mags Breadcrumbs Magazine (2020) and Yes Poetry (2020).  In addition, MW has been a featured poet, and has done readings from her fiction at various bookstores, coffee houses, libraries, and community parks. She recently completed an urban fantasy novel The Girl in the Bookstore. 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.