World Gone Crazy

by Yvona Fast


Headlines scream

            war, missiles,

                        fires, floods,

                                    mourners, martyrs …

            The world has gone crazy.

Outside,

            peaceful woods beckon.

On the horizon

            words call.

Reading, reaching,      grasping,

            I run towards sunset.

Shutting out politics

            I stare at a blank page.



Yvona Fast’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. She’s the author of three poetry chapbooks, three nonfiction books, a weekly food column and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

The Last Time

by Edward Harkness


It happened on the pier, your back against a railing, masts of several sloops
to your right, topped with their colored flags, the sea behind and to your left—

a warped sheet of tin. As proof it really happened, your friend took a picture
just before I stepped forward toward your opened arms, my face mirrored

in your snazzy sunglasses, your hair in long silver braids—as if such proof
would reveal the moment before the moment the world changed.

We were never lovers, lovers only in the sense of love for those scalable,
sometimes reachable, imagined summits we ascend in the silent odd hours.

That step toward your arms meant we were old friends, heart friends.
I introduced you to my true love, who hugged you, and to my son, who,

with baby in a chest-carrier, hugged you. Steam, I recall, rose from planks
laid out, you’d mentioned, during the pandemic of 1918, the tar softened,

sun-warmed after a morning squall. A man chomping a cigar stub walked by,
pushing a wheelbarrow of oysters. His red rubber boots glistened. In our plague,

to save each other, we mask ourselves, we do not hug. That distant moment
marked the last time, on that pier, your face in full sun, your back against a railing.



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.  Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Weathering

by Rebecca Leet


Not even hunger
brings them to a feeder
swinging wildly        bobbing
like a buoy storm-tossed
on waves of the Chesapeake.

No mourning dove
no purple finch
no chickadee.

They wait someplace safe
for the gale to calm.

The feeder dangles from a white pine 
whose thinner branches
bounce          twist    flip
acquiescing

until winds are spent
routine returns.

At the window,
cloistered alone
against rampant pandemic,
I take notes    on weathering
what I cannot control.



Rebecca Leet lives across the Potomac River from Washington DC., where life is rarely quiet. She finds calm along the river or heading to the Atlantic shore to commune with the ocean. She has been published in a dozen print and on-line journals and her maiden book of poetry, Living With the Doors Wide Open, was published in 2018. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

The Routine I Live By

by Margaret Blackstock


I wake, then settle into snooze.
Soft black slippers greet my feet.

I creak out of bed, curse the cold,
put on an old sweatshirt, then go

straight to the kitchen to make coffee
and check my phone.

I open the curtains and gaze
at the new sky, a dazzling bloom.  

I pray, check the news, take a vitamin.
And it always starts this way.

Until the evening, there’s a sequence
I follow. I need the certainty,

inside these walls. Outside,
there may be chaos and change–

Fresh riots, new viral strains.
But here, I walk the lines of an ordered clock

Like a human minute hand
counting down my life, tick tock,

hour by hour and day by day,
lockdown life passes, over and over, this way.



Margaret Blackstock is an advertising and marketing writer living in San Francisco, CA. She works on her poetry, reads everything from mysteries to social history, and watches a little too much TikTok in her pandemic spare time. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Destiny

by Sreekanth Kopuri


A cyclist pedals on his
dream that hangs before
like the bag of medicine for

his love, a quarantined
secret in the charpoy of
a few breaths that tick

like the clock, tired of its
cycle our hatred  broke
locking the earth, down

the narrow road he sneaks
re-tipping the police to break
the lock, down the curfew

road, but only to the sunset
that prohibits a procession
to the dry-eyed lonely funeral.

Sreekanth Kopuri is an Indian English poet from Machilipatnam, India. He has recited his poetry and presented his research papers in many countries. His poems and research articles have been widely published in journals like Heartland Review, Nebraska Writers Guild, Poetry Centre San Jose, Underground Writers Association, Word Fountain, A New Ulster, Synaeresis, Wend Poetry, Vayavya, Ann Arbor Review, Halcyon Days Magazine, to mention a few. His book Poems of the Void was the finalist for the EYELANDS BOOKS AWARD.  Kopuri is presently an independent research scholar in contemporary poetry, silence, and Holocaust poetry. He lives in his hometown Machilipatnam with his mother teaching and writing. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Zoom Hour

by M.J. Iuppa


Sitting in the discomfort of being here, I know you are listening

and not listening; I know you have things on your mind. I know

you are looking at your keyboard, doing two things at once; wishing

the cat would jump up on your lap, or the dog begging to have its

head scratched, or your 8-year-old, who has been quiet all morning,

pleading outside your workroom for a cheese & mustard sandwich

on soft white bread, without crusts, and cut into triangles & served

on the red plate that says: This Is Your Day.

                                        And, you will shout as we read your lips:

 Wait, I am trying to do something. Give me a minute.

I know you’re listening for the reassuring sound of your child’s full

body thud just outside your door, and those tiny nails (you really

should clip those nails), dragging against the hardwood floor, in

that slow, deep scratch that takes your breath & proves that I know

you are listening and not listening; I can see your eyes close, even

as I am talking, and I am grateful that you showed up today. I know

you know time is precious. You don’t need to hear it.

                                       Refresh— start, again.



M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 32 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Mail Call

by Gail Atwater


In this year of pestilence and chaos
The news just makes me angry and confused

So I go outside and watch the bees extracting whatever nectar
   They can find in our sad garden after the freeze
Many days the choice is between connecting with the outside world
   Oozing with greed and lies or retreating to the bees

Today though I received a small envelope of truth and soul
Excavated with blood and sweat and passion
From one of the Real People I know,
Dispatch from that smoldering furnace
Where meaning is forged
And sparks of light fly free

Gail Atwater is a therapist and mother living in Dallas, TX. She loves helping others leverage the power of creative expression for healing from trauma, addiction or grief. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Plague Morning

by Ann E. Michael


I had been well, twisting the stem
of a cruciform blossom or a forget-me-not,
and everything was ripening then
I took to my bed for dreaming.

When the birds began to waken
I found myself unwrapping a flannel sheet,
then bones, then a bloodless knot
at my feet, whitened

contrasting this damp dark soil,
the wide field tilled but nothing sown, and knew
at once that weeds would claim it—
but what of the unclaimed bones?

I don’t know, I could not tell
if they were my own or the bean-field’s
or dream-skeletons or a wayward bird’s.
I only know I took, then, to my bed.



Ann E. Michael lives in Pennsylvania, USA, where she currently directs the writing center at DeSales University. She is a poet, educator, essayist, and librettist who has appeared in print regularly since 1982. Her most recent collection of poems is Barefoot Girls; her next book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, will be published sometime in 2021 (Salmon Poetry). Varada J.M. is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

One Day: An Era

by Dr. Bijoyini Maya

One day surrounded by petrichor at the banks of the Ganges
We will surrender our hide and seek … one day.
You will not hurry to office
Nor will I be seeking employment in classifieds section…
In your eyes the sunrays split into thousand beams —
I will be in a sari, then used to draping
Maybe that day so many years of silence will be tired of hush
Our language will find words —
Waves of time will one day bring this flood
I will have no time to be miffed as I glance at you.
Or perhaps illusory desire will remain in dream world,
Never come true in tangible reality, however, what is the harm in a wish?
In this fairyland, you are my prince
This breezy dream for the sun scorched days
 Full of dirt: anxious job hunting.
Also in the interior most corner of the heart in a small hut lives bird of hope — It says
One day, that one day will happen


একদিন — দীর্ঘকাল

একদিন বৃষ্টির সোঁদা গন্ধে গঙ্গার ওই প্রান্তে

ধরা পরে যাবো হঠাৎ দেখো দুজনা — একদিন …

থাকবেনা তোমার অফিসের তাড়া

না আমার কোনো চাকরী খোঁজার পালা

তোমার চোখে বিন্দুর ন্যায় সূর্য কিরণ খণ্ডিত

আমার পরনে শাড়ি, তখন বেশ অভ্যস্ত

হয়ত সেদিন দুজনের এত বছরের নিস্তব্ধতা চাইবে বিশ্রাম!

তোমার আমার বাণী পাবে ভাষা —

সময়ের স্রোত একদিন আনবে এই বাণ ভেঙে সব দ্বার

চূর্ণ হবে আমার রোষাবেশ চেয়ে তোমার পানে একটিবার…

হয়ত এই অলীক কামনা স্বপ্নই থেকে যাবে,

সত্যি হবেনা তার কোনো ছবি, তৎসত্ত্বেও আশা করতে কি ক্ষতি?

স্বপনের  রাজ্যে তুমি আমার রাজপুত্র —

এই স্বপ্নটা স্নিগ্ধ করে জীবনের সূর্যতাপ মাখা

ধূলোয় ঢাকা, অস্থির, চাকরি খোঁজার দিনগুলো

আর বুকের কোনে ছোট্ট কুটিরে একটা আশা —

একদিন! সেই একদিন আসবে…

Dr. Bijoyini Mukherjee dedicates all her creative endeavours to Shakthi and her mother through her pen-name Bijoyini Maya. Her professional expertise includes public relations, teaching, storytelling, research, soft-skills training, content writing, editing, and spiritual counselling. She has published articles on New Zealand literature and ecocritism. You can also find her short stories and poems in various journals and magazines like BlazeVox. For inculcating love of Bengali literature, she is indebted to her foster mother, Kalyani Mukherjee. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.    

Pronouns

by Marjorie Maddox

             –May 2020

“Time out!”
says the young mother to the toddler
too loudly,
pretending a scream is not a scream.

The small girl stands in a corner
crowded with fear. She flails her arms,
then settles her tear-streaked face
into a pout.

            Outside, the sun dazzles
without her.

It is her mother she hates,
the one digging now through the kitchen trash,
what’s left of the mask soiled with coffee grounds,
Elmo safety scissors hidden deeper yet
beneath the last egg shells, the empty carton of milk.

Outside, the sun dazzles
without them.

The mother cuts her finger
on a discarded can. The daughter wails.
Someone is screeching, “Out! Out! Out!”
She is/is not the child. She is/is not the mom.
Outside the sun.
Without them.

Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace Else;Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist Children’s Educational Category 2020 International Book Awards), andA Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in PoetryI’m Feeling Blue, Too!Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania(co-editor); Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Forthcoming in 2021 is her book Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press), as well as her ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts). For more information, please see www.marjoriemaddox.com.Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.