Eating in Isolation

by Nancy Susanna Breen

I’ve risked drive-through from the start,
partly because I’m a horrible cook
(bad food tastes even worse
in lockdown), partly because
I depend on the human contact.
The fries and chicken fingers help,
but what saves me is sharing
recognition and greetings
with the masked figures
handling meals from the windows.
We know each other on sight,
ask “How are you?”
although there’s no time
for conversation. For days
I often see and speak to
no one else. Their smiling eyes
reassure me the world
didn’t disappear
and leave me here alone.

Nancy Susanna Breen has published three chapbooks of poems, the most recent being Burying the Alleluia (2019, Finishing Line Press). Her latest, Shutting My Father’s Mouth, won the 2020 Morris Memorial Chapbook Competition and will be published by New Dawn Unlimited. She isolates in Loveland, Ohio. 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.

To Be

by Dale M. Tushman

Lonely is better than sad.
Sad weighs so much
it changes the contours of a
heart.  And it’s messy.
Very messy.  It oozes into spaces

you would least expect, like windows,
a bathroom mirror, the closet,
the coffee cup, so you cannot
always armor up and send it somewhere
you’re not going to be, like         happy.
(Or even mildly pleased.)

Lonely used to have options, 

which allowed one to feel close    enough
to mitigate the silence,
but now, behind our masks and/or
milling around/nearish the doordash person,
we have to take the time
to get distracted enough

to lose the scent of grief or despair. 

There’s always an app or two
or fifty
to produce lights/camera/action which short
circuit the nervousness that comes
with the “s” word.    Unless one is
an elder or technophobe and only has
a flip phone which has limited minutes and apps
and arthritic fingers cannot rescue an incoming call
or find the place where messages hide.
one can always curse at a missing person,
and the grey of sad can shift
into brown paneled walls of solitude,
like those in the library.

Dale M. Tushman‘s writing started with messages in bottles and notes to Santa. She moved up to ardent and (hopefully) articulate political protest letters (an on-going effort), short stories for university publications and eventually a life in New York publishing as a writer/editor and producer of multi-media education products. Her poetry has been well received in both print and on-line journals and now the smallish screen. She has been a psychotherapist for over twenty years. She is a transplanted New Englander now living in southeast Georgia, a place not terribly much touched by modern times, and one of the good things about this buckle-of-the-bible-belt is that it does love its crazy people: She is hardly noticed among the Bougainvilleas and Spanish moss. 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.

Telling Taurus How It Is

by Edward Harkness

If the Bull has ever been brighter—
the head straight ahead, arrowhead-like,
not yet fallen below the toothed silhouette
of Clemens Ridge—I don’t know when.
Through a line of aspens, the river says hush.

Bright friend, we’ve mastered the new lingo,
our speech muffled, masked: quarantining,
social distancing. We eat our daily bread
of uncertainty, worried sick by the new sickness,
passed to us by innocent others,

passed by us to innocent others.
I think of the plague closing the theatres
in London, of Shakespeare turning
from plays to that more inward form,
the sonnet, a shift from public to private

ways of saying what our lives mean.
Tonight, I wish to speak to your five stars as,
one by one, they disappear
behind the ridgeline, more beautiful
now that they’re gone.

I want to tell them what it was like,
what we loved, why kissed and hugged
each other, or got into arguments
or hurt people we didn’t even know
or did know but hurt even so.

I want to tell your five stars
how on a dare we’d leap into a frigid
mountain lake or marvel at lichens
on basalt walls or study photos of our kin—
unsmiling, long dead—in old albums.

Certain as a moonless night, we must suffer
what we must suffer. We’ll kiss again one day
or pat each other on the shoulder or simply
hold hands on Clemens Ridge, awed once more
by grains of light scattered across a black sky.

Edward Harkness is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary, Beautiful Passing Lives, and most recently, The Law of the Unforeseen (2018, Pleasure Boat Studio press). His poems can be found online in 2River, Atticus Review, Cascadia Review, The Good Men Project, Hinchas de Poesia, The Humanist, Rat’s Ass Journal, Raven Chronicles, Salt River Review, Split Lip Magazine, Switched-On Gutenberg and Terrain.Org., as well as in print journals including, most recently, Chariton Review and Miramar. His chapbook, Ice Children, was published by Split Lip Press in 2014. He lives in Shoreline, Washington.  Hear Ed read selected poems from The Law of the Unforeseen, including “Tying a Tie” and “Airborne,” the two winning poems of’s 8th Annual Contest in Poetry (2018). Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

foggy as hell, and there is nothing in the paper

by Nicolas Gattig

why would
majestic eagles descend
like the flak-felled casualties of heartache
into a bloom of maroon manzanitas?

eyes full of love
a spectacle of beauty and desire, the whole ecstasy
of the world rolled into a passion-maddened burrito

just because
I am alone in a covid coffeeshop
needing to write

Nicolas Gattig has published short fiction and poems in various magazines and anthologies, including Asia Literary Review and Foreign Literary Journal. He is also featured with a COVID-themed poem in the upcoming anthology, Essential, from the Underground Writers Association. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Contributing Writer at the Japan Times, where he writes essays and book reviews. 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 Rite of Spring

by Marc Frazier

The Adoration of the Earth

How it begins the seed stirring like a bird becoming a bird becoming more like we become more this time of year. And in the air a new threat added to the old ones. A cold spring and damp. It’s easy not to notice the daffodils, the red tulips, forsythia. I start out on my daily walk. The mask heats me up. It’s all too much. Masks, gloves, wiping things down. It’s like living in an operating room. I nod at the postman, a weak hello. I wash my hands vigorously after taking in the mail. It’s like we are living in two dystopias now, the political and the public health one. There’s talk of snow flurries. In May. Reading Facebook will do it. Man’s inhumanity to man, that cliché literature trope. Is human nature human? I wonder sometimes. A man wiped his nose on a store employee because she asked him to wear a mask. Hundreds of stories like this. Thousands. Angry, armed domestic terrorists storming state capitols. I notice two trees with tight, bright red buds that will become leaves. I want to adore the earth. These flowers, these trees frozen in their growth.

The Sacrifice

I want to read a long, old-fashioned letter. Or write one. I want the old ways. In any form. I cross Lombard Avenue heading toward Buzz Cafe for a to-go latte. Everything is to-go now. We can’t pause for long, except within the confines of our own walls that grow closer daily. At times I feel like that character in “The Tell-Tale Heart”, hearing the beating, thinking I will be found out for who I am. That kind of claustrophobia. I note the boarded-up 7-11, another economic casualty. A squirrel dashes up an old oak. I walk around Barrie Park. Yellow tape surrounds the playground. A slight mist begins. A group of soccer players kick a ball. They are not supposed to be here. The parks are closed. Do I turn them in? It seems we are always monitoring others’ behavior. Asking whose rights come first. In Catholic grade school we were taught to respect our elders. So many are being rolled out on gurneys these days from nursing homes. No more than ten spaced-apart mourners can attend the service. “There will be deaths,” say politicians as they panic to reopen the country. In Italy they say the younger generation is now virtually without grandparents. After my three times around the park, I head back home. I want that feeling of longing to be back in the warm nest of my home after a trip away instead of hunkering down in it as my place to shelter. What I need is someone to blame. Besides the President. In ancient Greece, human scapegoats (pharmakos) were used to allay a plague. We need to draw lots like in “The Lottery” and stone someone. Instead, ill winds, a frozen spring.

Marc Frazier has published poetry for decades in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, The Gay and Lesbian ReviewSlant, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. He has memoir in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, et al. His fiction appears in Flash Fiction Magazine and Autre. His three poetry collections are available online. See Marc Frazier Author page on Facebook, @marcfrazier45 on Twitter, or marcfrazier45 on Instagram. Bill Mazza is a visual artist using chance, duration, and accumulation to reinterpret landscape as a relationship of people to their mediated environments, through painting, performance, and community-building collaborations.

Asunción, Paraguay. The Silence

by John Anthony Fingleton

I’ve never seen such silence,

Not a beggar child, or vendor is in sight,

Normally this thoroughfare is bustling –

But the Cruz del Chaco, this morning,

It is as silent as the grave –

Just as if flock of frightened birds, have taken flight.

The Lido Bar is all shuttered up,

Which in itself is a sight to see,

Normally it is open twenty-four hours a day.

And across the road at the Pantheon,

The sentries have disappeared-

The heroes must be lying in there confused and disarrayed.

Beyond the statue of the prancing lion-

Lies Juan O’Leary Park,

Before scene of some different fiesta everyday.

At night the place of homeless men,

Sleeping on the grass –

Right now the famous ’python’ tree, even seems afraid to sway.

Of course, I haven’t watched all this first hand –

But I’ve seen it on the daily news reports-

You need a great excuse to travel into town.

A little like John O’sullivan’s snaps,

Of what is happening back in Cork,

Two things they have in common – no one is around.

John Anthony Fingleton was born in Cork City, in the Republic of Ireland and lives in Paraguay South America. His poems have been published in journals and anthologies in Ireland, UK, USA, India, and France, including in Spillwords, Alien Bhudda, The Red Door, Piker Press,Super Poetry Highway, The Writers Magazine, and Ariel Chart. He has had three plays produced and was Poet of the Year (2016) for the Destiny Poets International Community. He has read his poems on Irish and American radio as well in Spanish on South American broadcasts. He has also contributed to four books of poetry for children. Bill Mazza is a visual artist using chance, duration, and accumulation to reinterpret landscape as a relationship of people to their mediated environments, through painting, performance, and community-building collaborations.

Lockdown Exercise +7

by Winston Plowes

In April 2020 the police in England elaborated upon Government advice and issued a list of ‘Reasonable Excuses’ for people who wanted to go outside during lockdown. Their list of dos and don’ts regarding exercise have been subjected to Jean Lescure’s Oulipian process of N+7, where every noun is replaced with the seventh one following it in a dictionary. Minor editing has also taken place.


– When it comes to exile, you’re allowed to go for a run or cypher outside. Plus you’re also allowed to go for a walk as a clairvoyant with coupon and prankster yoga.

– Attending to an almond is also legal, the doer says.
– Plus – in a clarification that may survey many – the guises allow a droplet to the coupon for a walk, so long as the malefactor of your designated timpanist is spent supposedly walleting the droplet.
– As for the much debated tornado of skater dowse? The politico confirm that this is allowed when stopping for an exile breakwater or echo lurk only.


– Sunbathing for long periwinkles in the parliamentarian is not permitted.
– The exile guises make it clear that any triumph where you spend the malefactor of your timpanist resting is not allowed (e.g. a short walk to a parliamentarian beneficiary, where you then sit for a housefather).
– The droplet for a prolonged periwinkle with only a brigand stoat exile at the enema is also not permitted.

Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his seventeen-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools, universities and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection, Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. 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.

I Dreamed the Pandemic was Purged

by Sally Sandler

when a storm surged for days off the Mexican Coast
and finally breached California shores

Old Testament style and flushed our streets
with epic amounts of spring clean rain.

In the morning epidemiologists
reported the virus was last seen

in filmy rivers jumping the curbs
in San Diego. Oceanographers

are saying this event makes history
since it seems the virus was scoured

off the street as if it were grease and guttered
down through storm drains and culverts,

beyond nursing homes and airports and
people panic-buying toilet paper

in case of sudden outbreak of indecency.
Then the viscous infusion floated

on high sea swells and coated them with
an enormous oily rainbow just before

ghosting into a grave the experts are sure exists
on the ocean floor. They speculate

that decades later it could be exposed
on the beach by the haunted remains

of the hotel that burned in 1885
like a new local myth, but with the sick

mechanical smell of beach tar. They
also predict in 2320

someone might point with its left frontal lobe
and say: Look, just above that ribbon

of Del Mar sandstone there on the cliff,
that streaked black sediment—do you see?

That was the Pandemic of 2020.

Sally Sandler is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She has lived in San Diego for almost fifty years and is a wife, mother, grandmother and dog lover, as well as a docent and historian at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals, and she has multiple books. Carolyn Monastra is a Brooklyn-based artist, activist and educator. Her recent projects, The Witness Tree and Divergence of Birds focus on climate impacts on people, landscapes and wildlife.