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.    

Littered

by Imogen Arate


Every day, roller coaster rides await
to convey from white-hot rage 
to tear-soaked happiness
for lone consumption
for lone enjoyment 

Spaces appear empty
only to untrained eyes
They are filled heavy
by littered words 
post sensory assault

They mock in poses
lean against walls
loiter in kitchens
they beg to engage
and they don’t leave 



Imogen Arate is an award-winning Asian-American poet and writer and the Executive Producer and Host of Poets and Muses, an award-winning weekly poetry podcast. She has written in four languages and published in two. Her work was most recently featured in The Hong Kong ReviewThe Opiate and The Abuela Stories ProjectVarada 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.  

Troubled

by Jerry T. Johnson


Pandemic night number
one hundred, twenty-five.
you stir in your sleep.
your eyes pop open.
you look at the clock
sitting on the nightstand.
the time reveals that
you only slept for five
short minutes and now
you are wide awake.
you leave your bed
slowly you walk
down the hall,
your body weary,
your mind overactive,
subconscious troubled.
you make a cup of tea.
no caffeine, no honey,
just warm, black liquid.
steam rises, aroma
wafts through your
troubled space.
midnight arrives.
you sip.  you meditate.
calmed.  you become.
calmed.  you become.



Jerry T. Johnson is a Poet and Spoken Word Artist whose poetry has appeared in a variety of literary publications worldwide.  Jerry also features at many Spoken Word and Poetry venues in the New York City and Southern Connecticut areas.  Jerry lives with his wife Raye in Danbury, Connecticut.  You may follow Jerry’s work on social media at twitter.com/jetjohn3 and facebook.com/jtjpoetry . 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 Sadness of the Night


by James G. Piatt


The haunting voice of the western screech owl like
a human voice shrieking through the dark puzzled
thunder of a germ filled night, awakened my lonely
mind causing me to contemplate life and death. As I
listened to the howling coyote slinking through the
night on jaunty haunches searching for the world’s
missing cure, I wept for all the people that no longer
exist.



James G. Piatt earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University. He is an internationally published poet, a Best of Web nominee and three-time Pushcart nominee. He has had four poetry books; Solace Between the Lines, Light, Ancient Rhythms, and The Silent Pond, 1500 poems, five novels, and 35 short stories published worldwide. He writes poetry to rid his mind of old cluttered things, and present fears. 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.  

Sea of Sorrow

by Rajnish Mishra


The sea is at rest, soundless; no winds blow
Darkness, a distant din, wave-twinkling lights –
Those bulbs, the stars and the not so distant glow
Of the skyline, orange-red over silver-black sands.

Black is the colour of darkness that they say.
Black is the colour, I know, it’s true.
Black is the colour of darkness, night and day.
Yes, it’s black, but black of varying hues.

Some are the nights, when the waves roll

Under the moonless sky, the black of tar.
Some are the times that see the black with blue.
Such is the colour of night while the young moon glows.
Some are the nights of light – lamps near and far,
Lend light to sky black; black sea too,

As I wait, with a soul enveloped in that dark sea of sorrow.



Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. He edits PPP Ezine. 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.  

Slowing in the Pandemic

by Karen Keltz


“When we get to the other side of the slog and look back, what will we have contributed, learned, and created?”  Seth Godin 

Some days I feel like a slacker.
I just want to sit in the sun
In my garden amongst the flowers
And read a book,
watch neighbors drive by.

Do I always have to be moving
Producing
Like some factory robot?
Might I learn to enjoy quiet beauty
And someone else’s creation?

Weeding my garden,
I uncovered a worm
Which I took to the bench
Below the birdhouse
On my deck,
Where swallows are creating a nest.
When I looked later,
It was gone.
My contribution—
Takeout
For birds.



Karen Keltz is a former educator, journalist and middle grades novelist, who has won awards for poetry, essays, and screenplay. She lives in Tillamook, Oregon, with her husband and cranky cat. 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.  

Quarantine

by Caitlin Kelley 


Tables and shelves are covered haphazard with mail, 
and books, and plants brought indoors for winter.
The ficus drops leaves in piles and the strawberries, 
potted in a plastic urn, won’t last the month.

Bins of compost and garbage are full or overflowing.
The floor is strewn with dog toys, littered with dust and fur, 
and a rowing machine lives halfway between the living room 
and the dining room. Its cheap, plastic wheels scratch the floor.

In isolation, I struggle to appreciate how warm it is here 
with the heat jacked up to seventy, how the coffee flows 
and so does the wine. How the kitchen is almost always clean,
and my dog wags her tail each time I walk through the door.

Please understand: The hours of cleaning are so soon undone. 
There is always a hair in my mug, dark crud under my nails.
A mouse has nibbled the tomato in the wicker bowl 
and none of us are supposed to leave.



Caitlin Kelley is a librarian. She lives in western Massachusetts with her mutt, Rosie Bee, and has survived the pandemic by growing vegetables, going on long walks, and playing guitar poorly. 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.

This Year

by Sha Huang


They all say this year will be written into the history book:
Mountain fire, locust, a pandemic that you will not see
in a hundred years,
Angry crowds, division, violence
Death.

Many people lost their lives.
Some restaurants, book stores, and cafés may die too,
along with the memory attached to them.
A friend of mine disappeared out of the blue,
while another friend is having a hand-to-hand combat with cancer.

Keep writing and painting on a quiet summer afternoon.
Let the flowers, branches and rivers grow.
Or take a walk with family and friends, chatting,
creating fresh memory to nourish our intertwined roots,
and to resist the robbery conducted by time and chance.

一年

他们都说
这一年将被载入史册
山火,蝗灾
百年一遇的全球瘟疫
愤怒的人群
分裂,隔绝
暴力,死亡

很多人失去生命
一些餐馆,书店,咖啡馆即将永远消失
附着在上面的记忆就要无枝可依
一个朋友不辞而别,无影无踪
另一位朋友正和癌症近身肉搏

在这个安静的夏日午后
继续画画,写作
让笔尖长出花朵,枝桠和河流
或者和家人朋友散步,聊天
让新鲜的回忆不断诞生
滋养连结彼此的根系
以此对抗
时间和偶然性的洗劫



Sha Huang was born and grew up in Chengdu, China. She writes, translates and paints. Her poems and translations have been published in multiple literary journals and anthologies in China such as Young writers, Chinese and Western PoetryAnthology of Chinese Poetry 2019Thatched Cottage, and Chinese Poetry. She is currently teaching Chinese language and culture at a university in the U.S. 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.