Gagging

by Maeve McKenna


Suppose there is no evidence
of your time here, & minutes are clots

on the brain. You babble, tell who’ll listen
you once lived — stewed apples, gazed

at your passport, wore masks, incited
self-harm. A wolf, a kitten, many caged

birds, all the desperate animals
who lived inside your wilderness.

Suppose hostages dream
of prisons only when handcuffs

chaff, in their wet beds, the nauseous
sweating. So you dissect eyes,

sever smiles, stare at the broken
body for proof, matted fur gagging

in your mouth, coagulated blood
like tapestry on the carpet.



Maeve McKenna lives among trees in rural Ireland. Her writing has been placed in several international competitions, published in Mslexia, Culture Matters, Orbis, Ofi Press, Fly On The Wall, San Antonio Review and many others. Her poetry is published widely online. She was a finalist in the Eavan Boland Mentoring Award 2021, and has work forthcoming in Channel Magazine, Marble Poetry and Black Bough Poetry. Only the trees know Maeve is working towards her first collection of poetry. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

After Icarus

by Lois Levinson


We hadn’t thought to worry
about the birds,
consumed as we were
with the threat
of sickness and death.
Each breath laced with dread,
we doomscrolled
and calculated our odds.

Last spring the birds returned,
found us secluded
under a shroud of anxiety.
They heard our silence
and raised their voices
to fill the void with song.

Late summer, despair
compounded by wildfires
devouring our mountain forests,
the air vile with smoke,
we hardly noticed
as flocks of birds
fell dead from the sky–
swallows,
flycatchers,
vireos,
bluebirds–
by the thousands.

They’d fled the infernos,
only to be trapped aloft
in the lethal grip of icy storms.
Their wind-wracked bodies
starved to feather and bone,
they plummeted to the ground,
where they lay side by side
along the rivers and roads
and in the fields,
in ghastly pantomime
of all the lives we’ve lost.



Lois Levinson is the author of Before It All Vanishes, and a chapbook, Crane Dance, both published by Finishing Line Press.  Her poems have appeared in Canary Journal, Global PoemicGyroscopeThe Carolina Quarterly, The MacGuffin, Cloudbank and otherjournals. She lives in Denver, Colorado where she’s gotten through the past year by writing poetry and watching birds. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Love Bubbles

by Carolyn Steinhoff

Evil is possessed, unlike mere misery,
of a dark glamour nobody pities.

            –Franz Wright

Discover where the Lost Men,
JA, James B, Muddy, the others,
got their freedom and courage:
this is the assignment given
to certain members of the populace
chosen for their formlessness.
Their mission: put together
a tutorial on how to distinguish
between pitiful unhappiness
and glamorous evil, unhappiness’s
“most successful disguise.”
But the invisible shepherd
has driven this domesticated segment
into a pen called Distraction,
where they can’t work,
where the distinct ones,
who could once be stroked and punched,
who have never killed
their consciousness, their longing
for love that never comes,
have been rendered as 30-second
on-demand videos and shares
that no one shares or demands.
Words of love now leave their mouths
as bubbles the wind carries off and breaks.
When the words were sounds,
they acted like a hall of sound
down which the vague and precise alike
could stroll, between walls of sound
that neither reached to them
to entice them to stay forever,
nor spooked them into getting out
as fast as they could. Now, as bubbles
streaming forth and popping, their songs
create a festive atmosphere for the dying,
while the figures of the living
are being unraveled,
their ideas pulled from inside them
like a thread from a sweater.
The Lost peek out from behind a bush
in the wilderness. Are we horrible or sad?
the shaky white masses ask of them,
as they fill the once empty apartments
and pine for a cuddle. Here is how
you sort out the difference:
the Idea, justice for all, whose neck
is under the boot of the baby-man
with the sceptre,
wrests free and holds up a torch,
while the lowly shepherd cries
in a tearful tangle and we comfort them.

Carolyn Steinhoff’s poems have appeared in various journals, including And Then and Emerge. In the blurb the late John Ashbery contributed to her book, Under the World, published by Nauset Press, he said in part, “These are haunting plangent poems that reverberate in one’s consciousness long after reading.” Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

The Time Back Home

by Lorelei Bacht 

The time back home started flowing 
At a much different pace from ours – 
A shift almost imperceptible at first, 
Then a chasm, undeniable. Across 
The distance of a continent, we can still 
Hear their distant voices, on and off, 
Online – It is not quite the same: we seem 
to have parted ways, only capable
Of conversing when the planets align, 
Once every century. 

The time back home has gone sour, 
Thick and slow like an underwater dream.
Muffled panic in the distance, nothing 
They write makes any sense. They talk 
Of bubbles, complicated lines 
Between, around old people and places
We once thought connected. There is 
No such thing as stopping on the way home 
Just to say hi. 

The time back home has accelerated, 
Perhaps, and we have become a relic 
Of a distant and glorious past – that is 
How they must feel reading about our lives, 
Which are quotidian and eerily 
Unaffected – what they would give, 
For a chance to complain about 
Our minor inconveniences: sometimes,
We have to wait a few hours
To buy some beer. 

The time back home is incalculable, 
Unlike The time difference of the old days. 
How simple then, to add or retract a handful 
Of hours. Now the difference is measured 
In days, birthdays missed, weeks, 
Of impossible quarantines, months 
And years without seeing loved ones. And the certainty
that without a hug, a gentle 
Touch, the irreplaceable presence of one to one, 
We have begun the slow but irremediable process 
Of turning into ghosts.

Lorelei Bacht is a European poet living in Asia with her family, which includes two young children and a lot of chaos. Her work focuses on aging, motherhood, and finding onself as a nearly middle-aged woman. Some of her musings and previous publications can be found on her Instagram feed. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

No Solicitors

by Blake V Rose


For all you know I am a
Pink flamingo staked before
A double-wide in Kentucky

I am a no soliciting sign
Fastened to the front wall
Of a Sinclair in Wyoming

A glass of untouched prosecco
Somewhere moldering
In an Italian basement

For all you know I’m positive

With every cough
This shit is getting real

For all you know I am
The woman with an airbrushed
Shirt tied in knots
At the seams
Two feet behind you in the line
At your local Aldi’s

For all you know I’m positive
That you are too

With every public sneeze
This shit is getting real



Blake V Rose is currently in pursuit of an English degree at East Carolina University and will one day move home to Tennessee. He is proud to have fiction published in Alban Lakes Publishing, Hireath Books, and Adelaide Literary Magazine. Blake has poetry published in the anthology Under the Cherry Tree: 20 Great Poets in Their 20’s. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Times Square

by Rachel Mallalieu


TImes Square is crazy today.
The sky is like glass, 
but only a few people stumble through the
frames on the the live cam.
A masked woman pushes her stroller
and weaves a wide berth around strangers.
No Iron Men pose for pictures;
no street performers razz bystanders
and gather cash.
We were there last February
and played the part of tourists.
We measured our hands
against Shaq’s print and posed
with Justin Bieber at Madame Tussaud’s.
We pulled lever after lever of M&Ms—
mixing mint and peanut butter candies in our bags.
Devoured them on the street while we
elbowed our way through through crowds.
At dinnertime, we squeezed into the
back corner of a Ramen house—
six huddled around a table for four.

Nothing felt final.

I can’t stop thinking about the orca who carried
her dead calf for over 1000 miles.
As ribbons of the baby’s flesh peeled away,
the whale continued to push her toward the life
she was supposed to have.

A few nights ago, my dead grandfather
visited me in a dream. He told me I could
hug him one more time. He patted my back
and murmured It’s dandy while I clutched him.
He left me and I woke up
with tears soaking my hair.

I never learned how to say good bye.
I’m still dragging the remains of
the way things used to be.
They felt light in March when we measured
time in two week intervals.
I hardly noticed them when
hummingbirds courted the lilies in July.

Now summer’s birdsong is displaced by the
whine of crickets and days compress.
My youngest son calls from school and sobs.
He forgot his cloth mask,
and the school’s paper one
scratches his face.
His teacher worries he
is not coping well.

Not long ago, the orca birthed
another calf and scientists feared
she looked malnourished.
But just last week, she was
seen swimming vigorously
alongside her mother.



Rachel Mallalieu is an emergency medicine physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her work has been featured in Blood and Thunder, Haunted Waters Press, Pulse, Ricochet Journal, Love’s Executive Order, Nelle and Rattle. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Pandemic Funeral

by Jacqueline Jules


Watching on Zoom,
I expected the somber clothes,
the tearful speeches, the widow
sitting by her children, faces hidden
behind surgical masks.

Watching it through a screen, it felt
like a grainy movie from the 1920s.
Until they lowered the casket
and lifted the shovels.

The sound of soil scooped and dropped
went on for almost an hour.

Silent mourners patiently taking turns
until the coffin disappeared
beneath a final blanket.

Are the rabbis right?
Does the departed feel loved,
tenderly tucked in by family?

From my little box, time zones away,
I watch the bearded face of the brother,
listening, like me, from his own little box,
to the echo of earth on a casket,
his eyes longing to lift a shovel
and offer his own, loving goodbye.



Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, including Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications, including Gyroscope, The Paterson Literary Review, Cider Press Review Potomac Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Thirty-Two Days Into Quarantine

by Lauren WB Vermette


I scream, an ambulance siren
on silent, red lights flashing,
not pausing to brake.

My vocal cords constrict,
raggedly gripping onto
a scream so quiet

the only noise you hear
is a soft keening
that doesn’t break for air.

I curl into the opposite couch
with my back to you
as I scream into my fist,

dampen the sound
with my palm
so it won’t break the air,

won’t make you worry,
won’t pause the video game
you are playing while I scream
to keep myself from breaking.



Lauren WB Vermette is an ink-slinger who makes her home in Dover, NH. Her work has appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Edge, Good Fat Zine, Hole in the Head Review, Lunation: An Anthology of Women Poets, and Rat’s Ass Review Journal. Her first collection of poetry, And The Form Falls Away (2018), was published by Senile Monk Press. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

The Tiny Window

by Kurt Newton


When the pandemic struck,
we told the children they couldn’t
sit with Grandma anymore.
There was something in the air
so small we couldn’t see it,
but if she breathed it in
it could make her very sick.

The children seemed to understand
Grandma’s room was now off limits,
but still they missed her crinkly voice
and her sweet powdery smell.
So we cut a hole in the wall
and put in a tiny window,
sealed, of course.
It was the best we could do.

The children would peek in on Grandma,
they’d wave and Grandma would wave back,
bound to her big, soft bed,
always in her flower print night gown.
Most times Grandma was asleep,
even during the day.
And when the unseen finally did
find its way into her lungs,
we didn’t know how to tell the children,
so much had been taken already.

So we took a picture of Grandma
from the tiny window, and taped it
to the other side of hole in the wall.
The children complained that Grandma
was always sleeping when they came to visit,
but she looked happy, peaceful,
so that was okay.



Kurt Newton works as a health physics technician. He grew up in a small town in rural Connecticut. As a proud father of an energetic six-year-old, Kurt is grateful that his son can visit his Grandpa at least once a week. Kurt’s poetry has appeared in Hobo Camp Review, The Wild Word, Penumbric, and Oddball Magazine. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.

Trial

by Wribhu Chattopadhyay   


These days leave the bed and open
the gate of a sanitized sunup.
Is it a rattling or throbbing behind a mask?
Here is an island and only sweat drizzles
alone without any  frivolity.
What is blank page and meaning?
A self laced cocoon or a force split
of an abnormal life is wrapped
in an enshrouding moment.
But a full stop alone can’t wreck the life.
It aspires like a phoenix
and a trial is on the process.



Wribhu Chattopadhyay is a poet, essayist, and short story writer. He writes both in Bengali and English. He lives in Durgapur, WB. His poems and short stories have been published in eminent magazines like Desh, Tathyakendra, Anandabazar Patrika, Amulet, Conceit, Poetry Protocol, Brown Critique, etc. His poems have been included in The UK Poetry Library’s Top Writers of 2012, Significant Anthology, Inklinks. Hibiscus, Tech touch talk (online). At present he works as a teacher. Sulochana Mahe is an artist based in India’s former French outpost, Mahe. She dissolves herself day in, day out in social work, and art. Her work includes teaching painting to cancer patients, helping them overcome their sense of being doomed. She taught art to 150 prisoners at the Central Prison, Kannur, moving their minds to the softer sides of life. Teaching art to women at a care home in Thalassery gives her joy that colors can’t.