On the Record

by Jessica L. Walsh

I say it must be coming for us
because I don’t see it coming for us.
I look at the dog’s picture from 3 years back
and find an old, old beast,
tired of delivering to us his loads of love.
He greys and whitens, mats and tufts.
How exhausted he is,
and how greedy I am not to see it,
urging him on to and on to August
when he was ready that April,
the same month a doctor felt my husband’s neck and frowned.
I turn to his picture and from here I see
swelling, the push in and out of tumors
that had grown for years, perhaps a decade,
but when I’d pressed my lips to his neck and lingered,
I felt only desire, never disease.
Each day now I say we are fine.
Let the record show I believed it
and knew all along I was wrong.

Jessica L. Walsh is the author of two poetry collections, most recently The List of Last Tries, and two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in RHINO, Ninth Letter, Sundog Lit, and more. She is a community college professor outside of Chicago but a native of rural Michigan. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Things to Do in a Winter Lockdown

in the style of Dan Albergotti’s “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale”

by Tyler Letkeman

Make hot chocolate. Count the icicles that drip from your eaves.
Shovel all the driveways. Makes snow families through four
generations. Create new constellations. Snuggle up warm
in a blanket and dream of running through open space
and warm air. Examine your reflection in a frosted window.
Zoom with family. Cry along with the fading light. Sing
through the long nights. Cut your homework into snowflakes.
Bake your grandma’s cookies. Decorate your tree
with your favourite ornaments. Decorate your heart
with your favourite memories. Listen for the sound
of hoofbeats on your rooftop. Be grateful for the stone
and timbers that shelter you and the waves and wires
that still connect us. Grieve. Grieve for the ghosts of Christmases
past. But remember our present, wrapped up in a box
in the lengthy dark, is a present to ensure future Christmases.

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 (4lines.art), 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. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

From the Inside

by Federica Santini

The year of Christmas in March
we dipped our fingers in sugar and mud
and played at creation with cake.

At night we dreamed of slitting our wrists,
no blood seeping out, as if from a doll
or seeds bred in darkness at Easter:
non-sentient snippets of hair,
curled fingers dry underground,
pink seashells gleaming with poison.

The year of Christmas alone
we waited and waited and waited.
We looked for the first new blooming
of spring.

Federica Santini lives in Atlanta, GA, and teaches at Kennesaw State University. She holds an M.A. from the University of Siena, Italy, and a Ph.D. from UCLA, where she studied poetry and literary translation. A literary critic, poet, and translator, her work has been published in over forty journals and volumes in North America and Europe. Her recent poetry appears in SnapdragonPlath Profiles, and The Ocotillo Review among others. She is a 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference Fellow (Arizona State University). Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Daddy, how did you do your part back then?

by S. B. Fields

Well son, your old man was stationed
at his bleach-stained futon for months.
Armed with just a cheap bong and an X-box.

We rationed our ramen
and toiled paper. Unsure of when
we’d escape this bunker of ours.

Dorito dust
soaked the air like gas
with beer cans flying like shrapnel.

And I didn’t bathe for weeks.
War is hell.

S. B. Fields is a freelance copywriter in Brooklyn. You can find his work in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans as well as recycle bins across NYC. Ever the crippling extrovert, Fields spends his nights at the local corner pub perfecting his upcoming chapbook, Sleeping Sun. See more of his work on Instagram @SBFieldsPoetry. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.


by Lori Bonati

It’s the year of the virus. I’m single
and stuck here like a castaway
on a two-bedroom island.
I’ve been talking to the furniture.

Dinner conversation with Mabel and Cher
(my table and chair) can be wooden,
so to liven things up I bring out the wine,
Frenchmen with charming accents.

I speak to them softly or brightly;
they stare glassily, so proud of their
sleek green bodies and little cork berets,
each one of which I’ve named Corky.

Then there’s Sophocles, my sofa,
a great comfort to me at night
as we watch the death toll news.
He seems unmoved, no stranger to tragedy.

While I fret and wring my hands,
he supports me with strong arms,
anchoring me to the firmament,
although I did spill wine on him last night.

Luckily, Rhoda, my bubbly club soda,
was right there in the fridge.
I wiped the damned spot clean,
feeling grateful to have such good friends.

Lori Bonati is a retired school psychologist with a passion for writing. She is originally from upstate New York but has lived in Tucson, Arizona, for the past 17 years. She is currently working on a middle-grade novel, children’s picture books, and poetry. She also dabbles in songwriting and photography. Her previously published writing includes The Snake Path (winner of the Paradigm Prize, 2018); Song Seeds (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2019); selected poems, Desert Tracks: Poems from the Sonoran Desert (Lelepono Press, 2019); selected poems, Purifying Wind (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2020). Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Encounter in the Checkout Line

by Rachel Emmanuel

Underneath my
cotton shield
painstakingly hot-glued
one by one
exact replica of the
Pinterest image
saved under
Modern Beauty

I lifted the corners of my lips
He nodded
eyes lowered
Long lashes above curved steel
silhouetting his
chiseled bridge
shrouded in
cheap blue paper
bought by the box
of fifty

Postured on 
assigned circles
large enough for
two feet
Invisible border walls
protected by conscience
Six feet apart
A world away
Distances that
dare not be crossed

Rachel Emmanuel is a New Jersey resident, part-time book reviewer, and full-time wife and mother. In her spare time, she enjoys writing about God, life, love, and the human condition. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Castles Besieged

by Sarah Morse

I once could retreat to the castles
in my mind
where dragons and gorgons and centaurs
lounge with foxes and wolves and hippos
in the company of royals and peasants alike,
all waiting to be written into existence,
all waiting to meet each other anew
in the stories I cultivate
which can only be brought forth
through my will to bring pencil to paper
or fingers to keyboard.
I once could summon these characters,
could converse with these close friends of mine,
at the first sprinklings of steamy water
or at Cinderella’s curfew hour.

But now

Bursts of creativity squashed
by a giant
tinier yet more formidable
than Jack’s.
Gone are the days when
voices argued over whether I should give in
to imagination or to sleep
because now voices outside my head
are drowning them out with
anger and hurt and blame,
and it is the pounding of my heart
that I hear rather than
even the faintest whispers of character chatter.
My fantastical friends are all trying to recover,
like I am,
from the crumbling of castle walls.
And I’m left to wonder
will they be okay?
Will I be okay
if they are forced to find refuge
in someone else’s castles? 
Or when this is all over,
will I be able to see
the turrets peek through the clouds again,
to visit the fortress

Sarah Morse lives in San Diego, CA. She graduated in 2019 from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Literature, and in the same year, her capstone paper on Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time made the Global Undergraduate Awards’ Highly Commended list. She has been relying on books, Netflix, and Disney+ to get her through the quarantine. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.


by Serena Piccoli

In a brownbricked semidetached house
in winding Spring Road, Wrecsam
in a snaking row of brownish hours
a man staggered a pumpkin
in a damp kitchen.

And then
bricked silence continued.

It was too orange\too round\too calm for him.

And that
was just the beginning of Autumn.

Serena Piccoli is an Italian poet, playwright, performer, artistic director. Her political chapbook silviotrump was published in 2017 by Moria, Chicago, USA. Her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Italy and Romania. She mainly writes about political, environmental, social contemporary issues with a touch of irony, both in English and in Italian (her mother tongue).She is a lesbian feminist human rights advocate. Twitter: @piccoli_serena. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

In Lockdown

by Hilary King

We do have luxuries. Our worries remain plentiful.

I take to naps like an addict. I sneak them, I need them, I lie about them.

We take long walks around ourselves. When our masks slip, we put them back on.

I acquire a cantaloupe and let it sit on the counter. When I can wait no longer, I open the hard brown wrapping with a knife. Inside it’s Christmas, sunset-colored sweetness, tiny seeds scattered like wrapping.

Evenings my husband and I sit in the backyard, drinking wine and passing uncertainties back and forth. Will this happen? This? This?

One morning at the end of one strange month, I write out a calendar for the next. I smooth the paper, then hold my pen still, leaving the squares empty as windows.

Hilary King lives in California with her husband, two children, one cat, one dog, and many masks. She writes poetry as a way of witnessing, as an aid to memory, as a way to explore the mystery of human beings and being human. Her poems have appeared in Fourth River, Belletrist, PANK, Blue Fifth Review, Cortland Review, Mom Egg Review, and other publications. She is the author of the book of poems, The Maid’s Car. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Two Poems

by Keri Smith

A Month of Boxed Wine

The dog is full of stinky anger
and so am I

and also a month of boxed wine
and seventy pasta meals

three times a day we growl at each other
taking turns facing off

you go run around the backyard
I’ll turn circles on the stoop

but at 5pm when the sun quiets down
we have our drinks and cheer

he curls up on the sofa, you curl up at my feet
only then are we allowed to dream

like snails wandering over our plants
they come slow and sticky

leaving their trails over us
in our empty glasses

peaceful for a time and glowing
until we wake up again growling

How Not to Pay Rent

I didn’t know it was possible to talk so long about eggs
every morning we plan out our days using them as a measure
meal to meal, style and taste
I’m sick of talking about frittatas. I want to talk about
how not to pay rent, how to get my health insurance back
how to look for work again, who’s hiring?
Desperation is starting to scratch at the backdoor like chickens
but sure, I’ll take mine this time with chorizo
and a little onion.

Keri Smith has her MFA in Poetry from the New School. Her first book of poems, Dragging Anchor, came out on Hanging Loose Press in 2018. Until the COVID shut down of NYC she worked in bars, and is still out of work for the foreseeable future. She is lately either at home in Brooklyn with her husband and chihuahua or joining her neighbors at protests. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.