Tomorrow

by JoyAnne O’Donnell


The plague is horrible, it cannot see or hear.
Cold as ice still frozen, it bleeds my heart.

The tree of wither
the tree of bones
the soul to eternity

The absolute sacrifice
of prince of policemen
Saint Michael
trying to bring life

from hurt
to new again
silver gates
open but open late.



JoyAnne O’Donnell is an author of three books of poetry that include Winds of Time and Spring & Summer’s Veil by Kelsay Books, Palace of Enchanted Day and Night by Cyberwit. JoyAnne is currently working on another book of poems. 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.

Teaching Beauty During a Pandemic

by Colette Tennant


Today I taught the Renaissance Code for Beauty –

High forehead
Ears – pale pink roses
Arched eyebrows
Golden curls
Chestnut eyes
Ivory cheeks
Small mouth
And a smile that could point the way to paradise,
but only if she showed six teeth or less.

You might wonder why all of this mattered.
Because philosophers, balanced between
Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary,
believed beauty could somehow
cleanse a little corner of their ancient,
earth-sullied souls,
could tilt them back toward God.

I lean near the screen, toward
their sweet faces – their breath.



Colette Tennant has two poetry books: Commotion of Wings and Eden and After. Her most recent book, Religion in The Handmaid’s Tale: a Brief Guide, was published in September of 2019 to coincide with Atwood’s publication of The Testaments. 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.

A June Afternoon

by Pratibha Kelapure

               Innocence Long before Pandemic – Circa 1975

standing by the roadside, in sweaty sari
by the street vendor’s wicker basket
I enjoy the spiraled pineapple slices
the delightful taste revives my hazy brain
sweltering in dampness, Bombay sizzles
soles of my chappal cling to the pavement,
I rush to the railway station to catch my train,
but oh, these trees hold me in their thrall
The golden spires of towering poinciana
turn the city of toil into the city of gold.
pink cassias, the soft scent of mogra
afternoon evaporates; a sudden sound
a loud sky boom, the sweet petrichor of
the first monsoon drops and steaming earth
A lightning flash and the roaring thunder
shower the city with joy and wonder
My sari is soaking wet, I curse my umbrella
My mind full of thoughts of home
and aroma of warm dal and rice



Pratibha Kelapure is an Indian-American poet residing in California. Her poems appear in Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Anthology, Haymarket Books, 2020), Entropy Magazine, Plath Poetry Project, miller’s pond poetry, The Lake, and many other literary magazines. 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.


Anticipation

by Joanne Durham


Sages warn, Live in the present,

longing can do you in,

my Mom in her last days

paced room to room

with walker and oxygen,

there’s nothing to look forward to.

Clutched in the grip

of a global pandemic,

the sonogram of that child-to-be

releases a smile so deep

I think it’s from my own womb

not my daughter’s,

breaks my fast on joy,

spreads its feast across my face.

She carries tomorrow

in her belly – yes, I’ll take

rapture-in-the-making.



Joanne Durham is a retired educator living on the North Carolina coast, with the ocean as her backyard. She was a finalist for the 2021 NC Poetry Society’s Laureate Award, and the NC State Poetry Contest. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Gyroscope, Rise Up Review, Yellow Arrow, Love in the Time of COVID ChroniclesTipton, and other journals and anthologies. 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.

Oceans

by Hilde Weisert


For Bangalore, May 2021

For years all that separated us, or that we’d say,
was “time zones,” a few oceans, and some holidays
that seemed to come all the time, and whose names
we, Stateside, tried not to mangle,

like the names of our colleagues—you, Sudhin,
and Karthik, Madhu, Pritha, Surender.
We were one global team with one company
Culture Code and one goal, perfecting
what we called the “customer experience”—

and so we’ve Zoomed along each wave,
worse here, then there, stay safe, lock down,
open up, breathe—until now, when in our morning
(well, my morning, your dinnertime) call

I learn your wife is achy and feverish, I learn
your building of 72 families locked in but sharing
the same air under every door, through every vent
has 12 affected, and no hospitals, no oxygen,
stark terror I cannot reach through any screen

while, ruddy and buoyant, the people in my town
burst out of their houses, open-faced and joyous—
so over it.



Hilde Weisert‘s day job is at a global technology company where, until recently, it seemed all that separated her from co-workers across the world was time zones, probably very different pay scales (never spoken of), and other things mentioned in “Oceans.” Her poetry collection, The Scheme of Things, was published by David Robert Books in 2015. Her poems have been in magazines including Ms., The Cincinnati Review, The New York Times, Plume, The Cortland Review, Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Southern Poetry Review, Lips, and anthologies including Choice Words (Haymarket Books, 2020) and What They Bring: The Poetry of Migration and Immigration, IP Books, 2020). Her essay, “Randall Jarrell and Adrienne Rich: A Found Guide to Mutual Admiration,” was in Fall 2019 Hudson Review. Awards include the 2017 Gretchen Warren Award (New England Poetry Club), 2016 Tiferet Journal Poetry Award, and others. She is president of the Sandisfield Arts Center in western Massachusetts. 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.

Incelibate Separation

by Ken Gosse


She coughed, but I moved closer
’cause I didn’t fear the spread
of the warmness of her welcome
’neath the sheets upon the bed.
I’d stayed inside where I could hide—
a fortnight of unease—
but she’d gone out a few times
just to buy necessities.

First we scrubbed and washed our hands
and then we brushed our teeth;
used disinfectants on our nails
in case bugs hid beneath,
and then, when through (a time or two)
we scrubbed each other’s backs
and netherlands and washed our hands
in case bugs hid in cracks.

She coughed again, but then I stood
behind a filtered mask
while watching through a window
as a team was put to task
to monitor each labored breath—
equipment everywhere—
but no one else could enter
just to let her know we’re there.

I’m pretty certain that was her;
her name was on the door.
I hadn’t seen her face
since we arrived an hour before.
Then suddenly I had to leave,
though tempted to implore
they let me stay, but they said they
need every inch of floor.

Today they called and told me
that the worst for her had passed,
that they’d removed the tubes
and I could bring her home at last.
I snatched our special bottle
off the shelf so I might quaff
a quick shot’s celebration—
and to settle a slight cough.



Ken Gosse usually writes metric, rhyming, light verse. First published in FLR–East in 2016 and since by Pure Slush, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years with rescue dogs and cats underfoot. 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.

Superheroes

By Ruchi Chopra


It was a simple conversation between us–
your eight-year-old self curious about
elephant and monkey god breathing through
their paper-thin skins. 
You stared at the print-out pictures of them
pasted at empty corner in our kitchen wall-
a make a shift temple for us during festivals
and ceremonies
from 482 days in our new home.
Somehow you sensed that these gods look
strong resembling your favorites superheroes
your innocent eyes scan these print-out gods
while we pray for peace, safety and solidarity.

Later in the evening you came with a drawing
of your favorite superheroes and my gods
standing together wearing invisible cloaks-
“mom they all have invisible power to save
the world from Coronavirus.”
I made this for Nani. Monkey god is her favorite.
You clutched a marbled figurine of an
elephant god in your tiny palms-
a souvenir from our India’s trip 2011
kept on my dresser.
Reminds me of simple joys that we miss
we breathe anxiety and fear not
simple joys anymore.

The elephant god now breathes fresh air
through its marbled eyes
kept beside the succulents in your room
Your superheroes drawing pasted
with the print-out gods
in our kitchen wall rechristened as
Superheroes display wall.
Somehow your innocuousness has
sensed the urgency of the situation
we are in-
In the evening, we all pray for
everyone’s well-being.
You remind me to look for the
marbled monkey god
for our Superheroes display wall.



Ruchi Chopra is a former journalist, and social media influencer. Born and raised in India, Ruchi now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her family. She is a bilingual writer and enjoys reading and writing experimental poetry and non-fiction. She explores different mediums of creative self-expression through photography, writing, recycled crafts, and collages. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, journals, ezines, and magazines. You can find her on Instagram at @banjaran_life. 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.

O2

by P. Muralidharan


Double the market price offered by the hospital won over
the neighbour bungalow owner’s sentiment for his father’s peepal tree
he handed over possession
and vacated instantly
The skilled labours felled the giant tree
and wondered why suddenly a variety of birds
swirled around and chirped continuously

Inside the hospital an aged mother couldn’t understand
what the doctors were discussing between themselves
in English repeating the word oxygen and was anxious
The next day her breadwinner son’s body was handed over to her



P. Muralidharan’s collection of short stories, Draupadi’s Only Partner, was published in 2021 and his novel, Boomerang, is ready  for publication. HydRaW chose a few of his short stories for its anthologies. He is currently in the panel of judges for an ongoing interactive novel contest. Several of his short stories have been included in anthologies. His nonfiction BUBBLES BURST was well received. An active member of many global literary societies, and a poetry/book reviewer, he has translated two books, including Shashi Tharoor’s  Why I am Hindu, into Tamil. 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.

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.