17-21 Days* in a Pandemic

by Sherre Vernon


and barbiturates still come up
in your bloodwork. The same time it takes
for arugula to break through the soil. Pea
shoots, radishes, green onion, too. The span 
of December break at a public school. Reasonable notice
for a shitty job. How long you wait for the bleeding
to start before you panic. From introduction of new
kitten, seen through a glass door by the old tom, to cat-
home in the rocker. Waiting for the referral
to the specialist. Enough time for your body to forget
its fitness and let Netfilx in. A California winter. First-class
shipping at the holidays, and most always, now. A body’s timeline
for antibodies following vaccination. Delirium allowed
after surgery, light duty-only. Self-help’s magic number
for forming a new habit. From (solid) interview to (finally)
job offer, generally and if you are lucky. Presidential
signature to stimulus check in your account. Neither
a week nor a fortnight, not overly poetic. A Prince song
and a Horror film. Long enough for a revolution,
in Egypt. Resolving an election in the US takes longer
than this now. It can take this long for milk to come
in (mine took longer). This is how long you can survive
on mushrooms and dam water, if you have to. By now
you should toss out the produce from the fridge

*For those who die from COVID 10, it takes, on average, 17 to 21 days from infection to death.



Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the author two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (fiction) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Her work has nominated for Best of the Net and anthologized in several collections, including Bending Genres, Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. In 2019, Sherre was a Parent-Writer Fellow at MVICW. Readers describe her writing as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. Tag her into conversation @sherrevernon. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Mirror Neurons

by Joyce Nash


On either side of a pane of glass
our reflections sit close, but alas.
The mirror of me
could touch you I see,
but can my heart cross a six foot crevasse?



Joyce Nash lives in a region of Southern California that was previously home to the Kawaiisu people. She is a reader and a writer, but she tries not to let that get in the way of her daily practices of reading, writing, and revolution. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

An Abundance of Caution

by Lizzy Beck


copious prudence
a surging wave of vigilance
a veritable cornucopia of care

preceded by out of as in
derived from rather than lacking
rather than sold out rather than
the empty shelf of bleach the favorite brand
of tampons toilet paper and canned beans

compare with overabundance
of caution
meaning excess meaning
too profuse an exhortation
to take heed
meaning look children
up at the circling birds

the pretty bellies of the birds
of prey how many above
the playground an abundance
can we count to eight
a fat number more than the days
of the week therefore

an omen of plenty
but plenty of what



Lizzy Beck lives with her family in Western Massachusetts, where she teaches at a small boarding high school. Her work has appeared in Salt Hill, LEON Literary Review, and Harpur Palate. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Before the Roof Crashed In

by Deborah Bacharach


How I peered through the screen door
at the dinged up corner mailbox. For a sign
like a galumphing hippopotamus,
profligate, ornamented, scenic-route excessive,
I lived in hope.
I had a vision, a grotto
drugged with candles. All the nobodies joining the church
no dillydallying, not trying to dive into paradise
but sidestepping the downpour of death.
                                                         But now
for mocha chip placid in the freezer, I stab a screwdriver
against frost rowed up like pews. I strike, chip,
swear at the coils. I rip out my feathers, hurl myself
bloody against the shelves.
                                                          We nibbled
the passenger pigeon down the drain.



Deborah Bacharach is the author of Shake and Tremor (Grayson Books, 2021) and After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). She received a 2020 Pushcart honorable mention and has been published in Vallum, Poet Lore, and The Southampton Review among many other journals. She is an editor, teacher and tutor in Seattle. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Persuasion

by Carrie Albert


I tell her, It’s here to teach self-defense. 
A robotic baby cries to students, needs 
unreal. A broken virus, a pretend monster,
not equipped, surfs through veins; side effects 
depart swiftly. It’s not your brother’s rubbish 
about altering DNA. It guards you from hospitals 
and ventilators. Okay, you can question humans 
acting like sheep, desperate to gather again. 
But this is liquid gold, studied by clever scientists, 
duplicated with precision in unsullied laboratories.
You will be able to visit Olga stuck alone in her room 
for a year. Your doctor will breathe calmer; 
your Lyft driver won’t need that plexiglass shield. 
This is the noble thing, your small part.
Come on, I tell my body, Let’s get the jab done.



Carrie Albert is a multifaceted artist and poet who lives in Seattle. Her poems and multimedia art works have been published widely in journals and anthologies, including Indianapolis Review, About Place, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Grey Sparrow, Foliate Oak, Earth’s Daughters and most recently a poetry anthology: Canticles and Spheres (Propertius Press). Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Open Again

by Diane LeBlanc


Ferris wheels
packed away
somewhere
south of snow
on truck beds
wait
to be opened
like fans,
spokes bolted
in place,
seats swinging
above city
lights and rivers,
crowds waiting
in lines
to rise
to the top
of the wheel
to say,
this is how
we imagined
the world
open again.



Diane LeBlanc is a writer, teacher, and book artist with roots in Vermont, Wyoming, and Minnesota. She is the author of The Feast Delayed (Terrapin Books, 2021). Poetry chapbooks include ThisSpace for MessageSudden GeographyDancer with Good Sow, and Hope in Zone Four.  Poems and essays appear in Bellingham Review, Cimarron Review, Green Mountains Review,  Mid-American Review,Sweet, and other journals. Awards include Mid-American Review‘s 2019 Fineline Competition prize. Diane directs the writing program and teaches at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

The Hypocritic Oath, under Quarantine

by James Winchell


Far be it from me
To pretend otherwise:
It’s a jungle in here.

Fourscore and seven
Years ago: My
Father brought forth

That little voice inside: When
This you read – you’ll all but find
Yourself in a worldly tale

Of lice and men: An altar-
Splashing current – Most
Devious and ex-stream.

When this you see: I will
Remember me – A frag-
Ment of your imagination.

So – In Case Of Emergence: See
What must be brought to bare – Lies
Beyond the scope of the present work.

For the ancient Greek “poésis” means:
“To make” or by handiwork “To fashion” –
To form a less imperfect union.

And now we are engaged:
In a grate. Aye! – There’s the rub-
Bing alcohol. Aye! – There’s

The rubber crutch: Those
Gently worn by history are
Condemned – to re-scent – all Ozone

As we know it – to re:
Peatmoss wastelands without regard
To grace, greed, or dolor.



James Winchell will no doubt remain an enigma. He lives in Walla Walla, Washington, which also remains serenely enigmatic. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Apocalypse dreams day two

by Eric Hayward


Probably all of us have these

I can’t see your skull but I’m pretty sure

there’s a space for the end of the world

built into every human brain, and

of course it opens up wider every night

when all the vessels vasodilate

to shepherd in the floods of bloods



This dream was about the Pope

getting sucked into a sudden

swirling sinkhole in

the center of the sea



The next morning I woke up at 5

to beat the toilet paper lines 

and gather my family 

to plan for catastrophe



Eric Hayward is a professional health care writer and acupuncturist. Like many, he was swept along last April by an early wave of worldwide layoffs. He has since landed upright again, and looking back over the past year’s writings, was surprised by how many of his normally non-topical poems were touched off by the pandemic. Eric writes fiction and poetry from his adopted home in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he lives shoulder-to-shoulder with his wife, teenaged children, and a normally out-of-state college student, all of them working and studying from home. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

WHO GOES TO BARS ANYMORE?

by Tracey Knapp


Nobody here, because this is a pandemic poem.

I didn’t want to write one. I didn’t want to love

someone once, which actually worked

for a while. You never really know what

you’re good at.  Brushing my teeth three times

a day is not my forte. Who cares?

Really, are you sitting at home

worried that I might lose a tooth? Probably      

not. You’re probably glad I wore a mask

to Target today while buying everything bagels

and cat litter. My days are so boring.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this poem bored you.

I’m just going to keep writing though, hoping

my inner elk fleets to the tree behind some

barn in a much different poem.       

In it, I would describe my lover licking

the space between my breasts—wouldn’t that

be hot? But I’d need a lover then, and some

reason to dump him at the end of this poem,

I think I just did. We’re over. So sorry.



Tracey Knapp is a poet living in Berkeley, CA. Knapp’s first full-length collection of poems, Mouth, was published by 42 Miles Press. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, RattleFive Points, San Diego Poetry Annual and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has work forthcoming in the anthology Sh!t Men Say to Me: A Poetry Anthology in Response to Toxic Masculinity. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.

Mis(s)connection

by Caitlin Mundy


I miss subway stations. 
There’s something about a train rushing 
in, blowing my hair as it comes, and new 
people seemingly materializing from nowhere 
and then 
in almost no time at all, 
others being swept away. 
Everyone on their way 
to somewhere.
All headed in different directions, 
yet on our way 
together. In this moment
together. 

I miss crowds. 
I miss searching faces 
I don’t think I’ve ever seen before 
and wondering if maybe I have, 
in this life 
or another. It’s the beginnings, 
the chance encounters, 
the moments 
when you step out of your front door 
head first into a conversation about the meaning of life 
with a complete stranger. 
Two paths on completely different trajectories 
that just happen to cross 
for a brief moment, 
throwing your whole path off course, 
then diverging back 
into the void 
of the parts of the world you know nothing about. 

Or the moments when they don’t cross 
and I wonder
about the possibility 
that my life has been spinning around 
the person sitting behind me on the bus,
two bodies orbiting each other 
always
just missing the other, 
just on the verge of meeting.
Just on the verge of becoming.

I miss potential. Potential 
that doesn’t show up 
when I am grabbing my groceries and staying 
as far away from every other human as I can 
before running back into my cave. 
In my cave, I have no more could-become
to wonder about. But at least 
I still have my briefly-were
to remember. To realize 
how the guy I drunkenly explained 
physics to at a party 
and never saw again, 
or the girl with the baby 
I sat next to on an airplane, 
may have shaped the curves 
of my line more than I knew. 
More than I know, still. 
How I am craving being rocked off course 
again. How I am craving 
being. 



Caitlin Mundy is a Canadian poet, traveller, and recent graduate of mathematics. In the summers you can find her planting trees in the north and dreaming up new adventures to have. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.