17-21 Days* in a Pandemic

by Sherre Vernon


and barbiturates still come up
in your bloodwork. The same time it takes
for arugula to break through the soil. Pea
shoots, radishes, green onion, too. The span 
of December break at a public school. Reasonable notice
for a shitty job. How long you wait for the bleeding
to start before you panic. From introduction of new
kitten, seen through a glass door by the old tom, to cat-
home in the rocker. Waiting for the referral
to the specialist. Enough time for your body to forget
its fitness and let Netfilx in. A California winter. First-class
shipping at the holidays, and most always, now. A body’s timeline
for antibodies following vaccination. Delirium allowed
after surgery, light duty-only. Self-help’s magic number
for forming a new habit. From (solid) interview to (finally)
job offer, generally and if you are lucky. Presidential
signature to stimulus check in your account. Neither
a week nor a fortnight, not overly poetic. A Prince song
and a Horror film. Long enough for a revolution,
in Egypt. Resolving an election in the US takes longer
than this now. It can take this long for milk to come
in (mine took longer). This is how long you can survive
on mushrooms and dam water, if you have to. By now
you should toss out the produce from the fridge

*For those who die from COVID 10, it takes, on average, 17 to 21 days from infection to death.



Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the author two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (fiction) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Her work has nominated for Best of the Net and anthologized in several collections, including Bending Genres, Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. In 2019, Sherre was a Parent-Writer Fellow at MVICW. Readers describe her writing as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. Tag her into conversation @sherrevernon. 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.

Ben Gunn Syndrome: A Pandemic Parable

by Mell McDonnell


So, white hair wafts about his ears,

and. swatch of ragged thoughts billow around his shoulders.

Notched stick tells days, week, months, and maybe years.

Marooned.

May as well eat berries, oysters, salted goat.

He’d rather have a tiny piece of toasted cheese.


Bent double, he lopes up Spy Glass Hill.

The flat-glass ocean spreads below,

and way away, a speck:

a sail? a sail!



Mell McDonnell is a person of several careers—as an instructor in English at the University of New Orleans, as a freelance financial writer, and as marketing/public relations director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a member of the Denver Women’s Press Club and Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop. Ms. McDonnell’s poetry appears in The Silver Edge (Leaping Berylians Society, Denver), Third Wednesday (Ann Arbor), and The Road Not Taken: The Journal of Formal Poetry. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

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.

Gold Filter


by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright


The barbershop pole spins. It’s Wednesday.
My hair is on strike. Hiding behind a mask
I pick up my prescription and pop in the bank.

Man in a wheelchair asks for help across 14th,
a purple velvet throw covering bent legs.
Majesty and misery share his mobile throne.

I post my last holiday parcel to Chapel Hill.
A red-tailed hawk circles the park. Bells clamor.
My granddaughter asks what an omen is.

Midas brushes leftover leaves and gold appears.
Touch me, Midas, if you dare. Go ahead!
My heart will baptize you, drown you in fire.

How much love can one lover bear?
Touch me, Midas. I’ll put a knot in your beard.



Jeffrey Cyphers Wright got his MFA in poetry after studying with Allen Ginsberg. He is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, impresario, and artist, best known as a New Romantic, Post-Surrealist poet. He is author of 17 books of verse, including Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press and Party Everywhere from Xanadu. Currently he publishes Live Mag!a journal of art and poetry. He is a Kathy Acker Award recipient and recently produced a film highlighting his puppet shows called “Pandemic Puppet Jam” on Youtube. Subhasree Soorya is busy every day with classical dance lessons, music, painting, and mural art alongside shooting videos for social media. This 22-year-old final year BCom student sits in the evening on the long veranda of her ancestral home in Mahe, India and weaves her dreams of becoming a noted artist someday.    

The Queen of Death (A Meditative Experiment in Forgetting After Consuming 100mcg LSD)

by Dawn Bratton


I.

I’m an empty vehicle parked motionless
I lay on the ground here covered in bugs and earth
just like I’ll be in death when I’ve forgotten everything
I forget all of myself to remember you
leaves and bugs in my hair I feel like a queen
adorned with the crawling life of nature’s crown

if I can’t find joy in life I’ll find it in death
for thank god in death there is final forgetting
that which gains life from my death is my salvation
there’s beauty in death and decay when it is inverted
for in dissolution to another its life is converted
here I lie covered in my own death in my backyard

I can assure those still living I’ve never been more peaceful
however you imagine me, truth is, I’m in elysian fields
and all that I was is returning to life
look in the eye of the ant that crawls from my grave
or the smoke that spirals up from my ashes
ashes to ashes and dust to dust come what passes

on the day that you’re born your wishes nobody asks
I return here again to my own unborn life in my backyard
we dislike flies because they thrive on our rotting flesh
and the aversion to dirt is an ownership issue at heart
I am a queen of Nature in my own death
garland like Persephone of white asphodel

the triumphal procession of life goes over my grave
the day will shine as never before for something tomorrow
when every particle of my body gives up its claim
a lifelong lease returning from where it came
this isn’t my body I only had it on lend
break me in pieces and carry away

it’s my turn to return the debt of my first day
and so the first & the last days keep coming & going for all
and each death is justified by each new breath
for every new breath is justified by a new joy
and joy is the justification for everything else
to Livingkind I donate my life in whole

in this moment my own heart bursts with Understanding
in my own death I will do service to you
the answer to the question which I’ve been seeking
which isn’t justified otherwise in my daily existence
for only in death can I do the Ultimate Service
on the altar of joy I am willing sacrificial victim

life is a death and death is a life, I’m crawling with bugs
I’ll never be thirsty or hungry again when I’m dead
all my bodily needs something else’s new problem
the aphid that crawls on my knee is my good friend
this is what happens when you forget on a whole new level
visions of death cloak me in peace

I am in the presence of the Great Being
only in death the life it is eternally seeking
what irony that I’d await my own destruction with pleasure
and it is more than right that it should be so
the balancing weights of Nature have beauty of their own making
but before I leave, the seed of this poem I put in the ground

you are my flower in the moment that you pluck it and read it
and when you blow it again it will be reseeded
your first breath was the reason for my own death
for only in death can all accounts be reckoned—

II.

Empty vehicle parked motionless
When you make room, look what enters

My body sits in the aftershocks of the presence
In my non-existence it finds its existence

I float here without identity and I am in heaven
I am a willing servant to your Visions

Eternal joy burst forth in my heart today
Concrete slab is a lot more comfortable than I usually give it credit

So many problems are solved only in death
Being the plaything of god is my life’s newfound purpose

Enter my body so I can carol your song
I could say I’ve been ravished and never felt better

An eternity of time has passed and somehow I feel younger
The note of an airplane’s whistle faints overhead

Here I lay plastered to half a lit globe in Universe
Turning a thousand miles per hour reports Galileo

All around me Life continues on just like it’ll do when I’m gone
But it has left a trail behind with which I’m blazing

I open my eyes to see wooden David
Michelangelo’s Vision reverberates into this vision

I promise to repay every talent that I’m given—

III.

I’m an empty vehicle parked motionless
I forget who I am and what it was I was supposed to do—



Dawn Bratton lives in California and writes poetry and short poetic fiction that explores themes of death, narratives with the past, perception, the nature of reality, and rediscovering meaning through experience. Her work has recently appeared in MARY: A Journal of New WritingCalliope on the Web, and Disquiet Arts. Liz Baron is an artist and restaurateur who lives in Texas by way of New York City. She and her husband, Jim, founded, own and operate four Mexican-Southwestern restaurants. She got her Bachelor of Fine Art from Pratt Institute but stopped painting when restaurant work and family life consumed most of her time. She is grateful to the online art classes of Sketchbook Skool that helped her regain the joy of a regular art practice. 

The Undoing

by Millicent Borges Accardi


There is an impersonalness
to our touch, working backwards
from intimacy into being
mis-associated strangers,
what activities not to do any more:
touching cold feet in bed
or putting a washcloth to my throat.
Are these acceptable gestures
now that we are rewinding into
the opposite of lovers.
We have tried to face the wall
inside the tunnel that is where
we used to travel through on our
way to being together, and we have pressed
in a non-onward direction,
like switching from left to right,
forced to hold the wrong hand,
to relearn how not to. How not to throw
and catch awkwardly. How to face
with the other shoulder, how to bend
the wrong way into a triangle,
into a new limiting direction
that keeps you trapped and strangled
and lost. Everything from scratch
transforming into a scar,
the places when you used to know
things by heart. Time is putting on
your right shoe and steadying
yourself on the left, jumping
around to keep a sort of balance
in an irregular circular way
–as if you are fooling yourself safe,
back on the ground and can protect
the country from falling, becoming
a universal key positioned into
the lock of how new life has become
unremarkable, disappeared and a lot more ugly.



Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portuguese-American writer is the author of two poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon Ireland 2016). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, Foundation for Contemporary Arts NYC (Covid emergency grant), California Arts Council, Yaddo, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She lives in California. Nancy Andrews is an artist living outside of Philadelphia. Self taught in photography, she has been perfecting her images for over 15 years. Her subjects include abstracts, images inspired by nature, and observations of the world around her. Along with photography, she spends her days teaching art to little ones, playing ukulele and romping with her two little pups.

Brood X Symphony (The 17-Year Cicadas)

by Jackie Oldham


May 23, 2021

9:05am

Sunday morning, 9am
and already 79 degrees.

Silence broken
by the one-note symphony
of cicadas singing from trees.

But there’s a soloist
whose song rises above the rest—
an urgent fifth – F to B flat

Waaay-oh,

repeating at steady intervals.

Is this the lucky cicada
who found his mate?

The world will never know.

In the end, the entire brood
will mate, lay eggs, and die,

leaving their exoskeleton carcasses
and their soft, red-eyed bodies to rot
on sidewalks and cars,
in grass.

Their progeny will rise up singing
in another 17 years.



Jackie Oldham is a writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She has read her work at local venues, for the Quintessential Listening: Poetry podcast (2019, 2020, and upcoming on February 10, 2021), and for the Black Poets Matter series, presented by Mad Mouth Poetry. Her essays have appeared as Editorials and Letters in the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Her first short story, “Age-isms,” was published in midnight & indigo, an online and print literary journal featuring Black Women writers. Three of her poems have been published: “Golem Emet” and “I Don’t Want to Play The ‘Capitol’ of Edition of Clue™” in Oddball Magazine and “Just Another Covid-19 Saturday” in Global PoemicSabiyha 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.

Massage Post Pandemic

by Jane Ebihara


this body no longer
barren limbs
reaching from shore
or even the motionless bank gloried
now in wild mustard weed
yellow as dawn

this body is liquid 
river
running over sun-hot stone

carrying what breathes
the trout    the tadpole    the eel
cradling what floats and drifts

life     in motion as
before the drought

this body remembers
the brush of the fisherman’s line
the swallows dipping
the rain tapping
the touching  
the  touch



Jane Ebihara is the author of two poetry chapbooks, A Little Piece of Mourningand, A Reminder of Hunger and Wings. She lives in rural Northern New Jersey where fields and fish and fowl abound. Bob McNeil, writer, editor, cartoonist, and spoken word artist, is the author of Verses of Realness. Hal Sirowitz, a Queens Poet Laureate, called the book “A fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.” Among Bob’s recent accomplishments, he found working on Lyrics of Mature Hearts to be a humbling experience because of the anthology’s talented contributors. Copies of that collection are available here.

Fully Vaccinated

by Sheila Wellehan


Dogs can go feral
when they’re lost a few weeks,
constantly on guard and scared
as they search
for food, water, and shelter.
They stay alive by avoiding danger.
But surviving alone changes them.
Don’t be surprised
if a lost dog flees in panic
when you try to help her.

I’ve been alone more than a year,
diving deeper and deeper
into myself. Isolation
has turned me feral.
I scream. I fight.
I confront strangers
over magnified slights.
They say it’s best
to socialize dogs slowly,
so I just go out at night.

You can smile,
but if you talk to me,
I’ll growl.
Don’t get too close –
I bite.



Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry is featured in The Night Heron BarksRust + MothThimble Literary Magazine, Tinderbox Poetry JournalWhale Road Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Stella Bellow is an illustrator currently attending Parsons School of Design in New York City.

COVID Confusion

by Duane Anderson


What am I doing here;
what is my purpose in life?

It is something I once knew,
and now have lost my way.

There once was a road map,
but that disappeared into space.

My mind is a jungle,
I may not find my way out of.

What is today
if there is no tomorrow?


Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, NE, and volunteers with a non-profit organization as a Donor Ambassador on their blood drives.  He has had poems published in The Pangolin Review, Fine Lines, Cholla Needles, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poesis Literary Journal and several other publications. He is the author of Yes, I Must Admit We Are Neighbors (Cyberwit.net – 2021). Bob McNeil, writer, editor, cartoonist, and spoken word artist, is the author of Verses of Realness. Hal Sirowitz, a Queens Poet Laureate, called the book “A fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.” Among Bob’s recent accomplishments, he found working on Lyrics of Mature Hearts to be a humbling experience because of the anthology’s talented contributors. Copies of that collection are available here.