On the cusp of an election of consequence the likes of which America hasn’t experienced for 150 years, and in the midst of continued Black Lives Matter protests and an indisputable surge of COVID, 30 poets sharing perspectives from all over the world contribute to this volume of poetry reflecting our tumultuous, unsettling era…
Featuring the art of Christel Roelandt
“Julian,” by Christel Roelandt
Stages of Fear
when the ball dropped 2020 in Times square
we ran with it, bootlegged the 20’s from last century
and with decades of immunity from what it cost
then to imagining an even greater cost
kept us doing a danse macabre until
one by one by the thousands
we froze in place
Late March, Early April
To feel the breath pulled out of me
imagine chasing after it, to watch
that child I never had running
out between two cars into the street
struck down before I could catch
fear takes me back to what
happened but didn’t and
I mark off days, weeks, months
on my calendar, fearing this
will go on forever, and fearing it won’t
whether I get the virus or not;
You can get used to anything
people say: Fearing
that as much.
fear keeps morphing: early May
boredom takes the edge off
till someone writes she
has been running a fever
and I catch what she fears
and hasn’t gotten.
Late June (June 24)
Imagination flattens the earth’s curve
takes a long- distance run
down subway steps, through a turnstile
onto familiar SoHo streets,
colors faded to quiet, like an old painting
people and cars forced out of
its frame, imagination thought
Two days later…Brooklyn (June 26)
the gravitational pull of conjuring up
bulging shopping bags return
swarming crowds to Fulton Street
as in a movie someone abruptly turned off
forgotten why, suddenly resumes; I look beyond
masked faces, to see masked minds
on a dangerous funhouse street
I need to get off fast….
by Linda Lerner
Terra Mater Indeed
Corona must be a parental vent
for sure. She’s sent millions of us to bed,
and billions of her wards brook discontent
at home, or otherwise ponder and dread
what other punishment she has in store
for us. While God can forgive, it’s not nice
to fool Mother Nature! Those who foreswore
masks probably will pay a stiffer price
than those who hide behind a masquerade
of obedience. For Gaia’s not blind,
like Justice is, and thus must be dismayed
when seeing us not only leave behind
earth’s warming, but its consequence, the plague!
What more of Mother Earth shall we renege?
by Frank de Canio
Love in the Time of COVID
Just as we say “Whew glad that’s over ”
This virus comes flying around the corner
to get tangled in our legs and trip us up
No going to work so I slump down to pour
myself a beer and stare at Netflix but Gracie
says “Shake yourself up and give me a hand . . .”
We mostly have room to breathe but it does get
a little close sometimes when all the numbers
don’t add up and then those people start calling
Gracie keeps a calendar on the wall in the kitchen
with birthdays and appointments for some reason
that only God knows cause most are crossed off now
The check lands in the bank and we are thankful
even if it’s not enough and it’s not coming back
so Gracie pays two months mortgage and we sigh
But then we reach out and touch hands and smile
at how life deals out five card stud jokers wild
penny ante cause we mostly just hold’em anyway
by Bob Walters
B.C. Before Covid
An October afternoon
All golden and russet
We’re on our way to pick up pots of chrysanthemums
And Lady Day is on the radio reminiscing with Autumn in New York
A touch of melancholy surrounds Billie’s deep sadness
But that was before Covid
In the living room laughter rings
Scents of roasting turkey drift in the air
And a table groans under the bounty
Some with covered dishes coming in the door
Cars in the driveway
But this year an empty table and cold turkey sandwiches
No one else is sitting around the T.V.
It’s the third quarter
and the score is tied:
Nothing to nothing
Snowflakes drift by the windows
And a fire blazes in the soapstone
But for the first time in 167 years, Macy’s Parade
The reindeer told Santa they can’t fly wearing masks
So Santa is staying in the North Pole with a bag
full-up with empty boxes and frayed ribbons
Meanwhile, back in the States, over an open fire, Nat King Cole is roasting memories
Thanks to the current climate,
I’m pliable as a piece of dough
made for baking;
now saps all my energy;
the extra weight
has made me feel slower;
fear has infected my system
like simple gluten
People are still making
posting it online, Zooming it…
I have no time or desire
to make sourdough bread.
I feel sour in the head;
my body feels like bread—
& I need
to snap myself out of it;
into a new attitude;
will be different;
will be no longer resting
& covered up with damp towels
in a bowl (or tub).
Our brains will be useful again,
but the air outside
is still shaken with certain illnesses.
The thought of it
sours me whole;
a lot of good bread
is already infected
and where can we eat at work?
by Carrie Magness Radna
Hundreds of thousands are dying
As the world fights COVID 19
Safe in my home with a mask on
A monster like none ever seen
First the elderly were at risk
Then children were catching it too
Our response was ever so slow
Those in power called it the flu
Fifteen cases down to zero
This is what our president said
The ignorance of our leaders
Led to more and more people dead
One thing I know for sure
Scientists working day and night
We’re wishing a cure will be found
Before thousands more lose the fight
One wish is for all to be safe
Another is for this to end
Fearing our life in the future
It’s hard to smile or play pretend
Who knows when this nightmare will stop
I hope all of us will survive
Though I know it’s not in the cards
I pray our battered world will thrive
by Joseph R, Stellin, Jr.
As If I Were A Leper
I stretch my hand to greet a friend
for gloves have not been worn here yet.
He keeps his hand so firmly clenched,
suffusing my face with shameful red.
I ponder over an unknown offense
that made him shun my cordial bent
as if I were a leper
behind a mask,
I am very claustrophobic.
I also sleep with a decongestant within my reach.
A blocked nose can easily blast my sleep,
but this non-monastic self-isolation
is worse than any type of penal incarceration.
While sitting alone, pondering over some literary lore,
a raven, unlike Edgar Allan Poe’s,
on Radio 4
surpasses the single utterance of Nevermore
by satirizing the efficacy of the Scientific Revolution.
We are homebound constantly lathering soap
because physicians have not figured out a solution
to a deranged virus that has evaded their mental institutions.
………………………Originally published as part of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival
by Susie Gharib
“Corona Selfie,” by Christel Roelandt
………………………………..(for Anthony Fauci)
The Universe has issued a special emergency Edict
(unfortunately necessary) that declares we
shall all shelter in place or gather in very small groups
for the good of the commonweal and each other
or be subject to frowns fines and incarceration
(though capital punishment is not in fact off
The Universe has appointed Common Sense Elders
—doctors and nurses—scientists and
public health mavens (the elected need not apply)
as guardians to share this decree and explain these
simple matters that the Universe finds obvious enough
but for those who struggle with numbers (and empathy)
The Universe has raised Wise Women and Men
to cry Love to plead with those they hope to save
and with those they strive to cure and to reason
with those who cannot understand the terror
of dying alone in a hospital bed hooked up
to gasping machines with no familiar loving hand
to squeeze . . .
The Universe has carved these commandments
in the hearts of the Common Sense Elders—of the Givers
and the Scrupulous who fortunately continue to outnumber
the Takers and the Shouters who haven’t yet told us which
one of their 330 friends family and loved ones they would
choose to die alone in a hospital bed embraced by
gasping machines . . .
by Bob Walters
A Tale of POTUS and the AG
POTUS and the AG say there is no Systemic Racism
A blatant lie, look at all the Black men and women
who died under the knee, chokehold, or gunshot of a cop
Our protests, infiltrated by anarchist to counter
our cries that Black Lives Matter, POTUS calls BLM
a Hate Organization, our blight considered crimes
POTUS spouts hate and divide with a litany of lies
rolling from a forked tongue his Party denies
He tries to stoke fear, pointing at mine and me
We are the ones living in fear under his name
and his henchman, the AG
by Aurora M. Lewis
It comes every day, every morning, afternoon, and night.
It doesn’t bother to knock at our door,
It slips in unnoticed.
It finds us.
Sitting in chairs, chatting;
working on the car, together;
shooting hoops with buddies;
enjoying a rousing music concert;
riding a jampacked train or bus or plane.
It finds us
And silently does its best
to do its worst to us
And we can only hope
that it will tire of its joyless mirth
and leave us forever
………………….(published in Spillwords, April 9, 2020)
by R. Bremner
The All-American Girl Next Door Writes A Letter To Santa
ANNOUNCER’S VOICE: The All-American Girl Next Door Writes a Letter to Santa
As we FADE IN we see a 10-YEAR-OLD GIRL sitting at a kitchen table. In the BACKGROUND, her MOM cooks. WE ALONE HEAR THE GIRL’S VOICE as she writes in a notebook: she becomes restless when she describes upsetting things, and MOM becomes aware of this.
GIRL’S VOICE: Dear Santa, I know that it is early for me to be writing to you, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but I hope that you know how… How…
How just different things … How everything is now, I mean.
Thanksgiving is soon, and my Dad told me that in England they are trying to make the turkeys grow smaller because there won’t be as many people coming over for dinner on Christmas because so many people are getting sick.
Do you know about American turkeys? Will they be smaller? And at Thanksgiving too? And how many people can come over for dinner? I miss my Grammy and Grampy but my Mom said that we have to go over to their house and leave their dinner on the steps and then call them so they know we are there and try to give them a hug and a kiss through the window. I don’t like that but my Mom says that we have to pay attention to what the scientists and the doctors say because they are the ones who understand what’s best.
But President Trump keeps taking off his mask and having a gazillion people come over for a party on his lawn, my Mom says that the White House lawn is our lawn, too, but that doesn’t look like it to me, and he says he got sick but he says he got better.
But then my Dad, he does what the President, President Trump does, he did that and he left his mask off and then he…
And then he got sick …
I wish I could talk to him about it but he’s in the hospital and there’s a machine called a ventilator …
Santa I know that this is a long time before Christmas but please, please, the only thing I want for Christmas this year Santa I promise you I’ll be a good girl I always am but I promise I’ll be extra good and please Santa …
Please Santa could you please let my father come home from the hospital and the ventilator in time for the three of us all to have dinner together on Thanksgiving?
Please could you …
Could you please you talk to God and ask him not to let my Daddy die?
SHE LOOKS STRAIGHT AT THE CAMERA: Please.
CLOSE ON THE GIRL’S FACE AS WE SLOWLY FADE TO BLACK AND …
DEAD SILENCE — NOT EVEN A PRESENCE TRACK — FOR A LONG BEAT, AND AS THE BIDEN/HARRIS CAMPAIGN LOGO APPEARS AND THEN INSTANTANEOUSLY FADES TO BLACKOUT
by Lee Gary Shamberg
An hour has gone missing this noon;
it could’ve fallen into the sea.
An hour has gone missing this eve;
it might have flown up to the moon.
An hour has gone missing tonight
it might’ve ended up in a dream.
An hour has gone missing this morn;
it probably got drowned in a stream.
A day has gone missing this week;
it might’ve got lost in the dark
or might have got tossed in the heap.
A day has gone missing this week;
it might have stayed home in bed,
or maybe got stopped and shot dead.
A month has gone missing this year;
it might’ve got locked up in jail,
or might’ve been hanged in a tree.
A month has gone missing this year;
it might have been lost in lock down,
perhaps dying with no one around.
by DH Jenkins
Faint meows make their way to my ears
amid deafening noise of sirens, car engines and human interchange
of a busy weekend.
Restrictions have grown stringent on littering our streets,
the only sustenance for stray cats and displaced kittens
whose main nourishment is the leftovers of the civilized species.
Most faces have de-shrouded their physiognomies
of masks that remind them of bandits in cowboy movies
and opted for a conspiracy theory
that employs a virus in dispersing remonstrating assemblies
across Europe, the Americas, to the Middle East,
yet thousands have died, are buried without ceremonies,
reminiscent for me of the soldiers in Wilfred Owen’s poesy,
for Corona is a weapon as lethal as guns and artilleries
that exterminated millions in World wars and terrorisms.
by Susie Gharib
“Wish Upon a Star,” by Christel Roelandt
A Pandemic Of Love
Since the time of lynching,
we have been waking up
wearing the fake face of
a green dollar bill skin,
made of cotton thread
from slaves’ plantations.
Living in denial of the irony
-a black life matters
less than a twenty dollar bill-
Now, the chilling death bells
are screaming globally:
“We want Justice!”
Heartbeat after heartbeat,
moment after moment,
tear after tear,
dreams and hopes
are still hanging in the air.
We are marching imperishably,
as one beacon of hope of
Wishing the Lady of Liberty,
will wipe her tears of pain,
and smile gracefully again,
when tomorrow’s dawn
will launch anti-racial sunrays,
soothing the souls’ anger,
dousing the fires of hatred,
tasting the breadth of freedom.
Hence, awakening our hearts,
our lost consciousness in centuries,
only to live with the ethos of spreading:
A Pandemic of Love!
A Pandemic of Harmony!
A Pandemic of Peace!
To remove all mindful remnants
of this vicious, ugly racism.
by Ermira Mitre Kokomani
Whoever thought a time would
come when if we touched
something or someone or
breathed the same air
in the same room as someone
or kissed someone,
we could become so sick that
we might die in a hospital,
breathless and alone.
Whoever thought a time would
come when outliers
would regard one of our
Constitutional rights as the right
NOT to wear a mask as if All
Hallows Eve had become
a national holiday, and if you
were a true patriot,
you would don a mask and a
costume to scare away ghosts,
and if you did not, then you
were guilty of treason.
Of course, the flip side of that
misconception would be
that, if you refused to wear a
mask, you were the patriot
because according to the
President the only ghost that
ought NOT to be frightened
away was the one bearing
the news that COVID-19 was
little more than a slightly
stronger strain of influenza that
would disappear with
the warm weather.
The ancient Celts celebrated a
festival called Samhain
on October 31st, which on their
the last day of the year when
the border between
the world of the living and the
world of the dead
became unclear, and the best
way to guard against
the spirits of the dead was to
wear a mask and put on
a spooky costume.
For those same Celts
November 1st marked
the first day of the New Year
when the living had triumphed,
and the dead were back where
they belonged, which begs the
question that must be asked:
where do the spirits of the
dead belong? In Heaven or in
Hell or with their frozen bodies
caught in the limbo of a
parked somewhere on a street
near a hospital in NYC?
by Harper Follansbee
I Can’t Breathe
Whoever would have thought a time
would come when we would
watch a Black Man die live on national
television as a white policeman
deliberately knelt on his neck for 8 minutes
and 46 seconds so that he could
not breathe and died.
Whoever would have thought such
a time had already come once
six years prior to George Floyd’s death
in Minneapolis, when an eerily
similar incident occurred on a street
corner on Staten Island
as at least four cops wrestled another
Black Man to the sidewalk,
one of them using a choke hold on
Eric Garner so that he could
not breathe and died.
And whoever would have thought that
on March 13, 2020, a Black
Emergency Room Technician named
Breonna Taylor would be shot
and killed by three Louisville Police officers
who fired twenty bullets
into her apartment, hitting her with five, while
executing a “no-knock” search warrant.
On the other hand, who could have denied
lynchings like these three have been
going on throughout the history of this country
despite the founding fathers’
declaration “that all men are created equal,”
deliberately ignoring Black Men
and Black Women, indeed All Women no
matter what their color, Brown Men, Red Men,
and Yellow Men, none of them, counting
as human beings since they were
not white and not male.
In August of 1955, Emmett Till, a Black
fourteen-year-old from Chicago,
visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi,
whistled at Carolyn Bryant, who
was white, at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat
Market. Emmett didn’t know any
better, so the next morning at 2:30, Roy Bryant,
Carolyn’s husband, and J.W. Milam,
Roy’s cousin, kidnapped Emmett from his great
uncle’s house where he was staying,
beat him, shot him in the head, tied a fan from a
cotton gin around his neck with barbed
wire, and threw him into the Tallahatchie River.
Despite his great uncle’s testimony,
a jury of twelve white men acquitted Bryant and
Milam of murder in 67 minutes.
Emmett Till died for whistling at a white woman,
Eric Garner for selling single cigarettes
tax free, George Floyd for trying to pass a counterfeit
$20 bill off at a convenience store.
Breonna Taylor for dating two years prior to her death
a black man who sold drugs.
Jesse Lee Bond, a Black cotton farmer, was lynched
on April 28, 1939 in broad daylight
in front of S.Y. Wilson’s store in Arlington, Tennessee,
for requesting a receipt for his purchase.
Pvt. Charles Lewis, was lynched in 1918 in Hickman,
Kentucky, for refusing to empty his pockets
Jeff Brown was lynched in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi,
in 1916 for accidentally brushing against
a white girl as he rushed to catch a train.
So let me ask you a question,
did any of these Black Lives matter?
Henry Smith, a 17-year-old Black boy, was lynched
on February 1, 1893, for supposedly killing
a three-year-old white girl. Transported through
Paris, Texas on a carnival float to the
county fairgrounds, he was tortured and burned
to death in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.
Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, three
Black circus workers who were accused of rape without
any evidence, were lynched in front of 5,000 spectators
in Duluth, MN on June 15, 1920.
So tell me, were the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Eric Garner, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Emmett Till, Jesse Lee Bond, Pvt. Charles Lewis, Jeff Brown, Henry Smith, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, Isaac McGhie and thousands more Black Americans any different?
And tell me, who witnessed all of those deaths?
Do Black Lives Matter?
Answer the damned question!
Say their names!
by Harper Follansbee
Dark fall here, cold winter approaching
Cases, Hospitals, Death graphs all ticking up, all states
Days before election, somber fear & loathing remaining, both
Left & Right militias standing back, standing by
If he loses, will he leave?
Maps of red & blue states dominate the news
NBC & Fox, different leads, separate realities
Our divided America, worse than ’68
Internet to blame, of course, guns to blame, sure
Lock ’em up & Liberate, the horror, the horror
Days before election, somber fear & loathing remain
Can we yet believe, the grace of hope? YES WE CAN.
My doc warned CoVid might kill your kidneys, might kill you
Maybe powerless; not helpless. Stay alive; watch all things pass.
by Phil Linz
“Being John M.,” by Christel Roelandt
A Heated Political Season
There are many reasons
To consider this politicised autumnal season:
No cheery Christmas with its presents.
Only presents that present their presence
As a hot and maybe-not election,
The selection dubious;
A cheeky virus
That presents us
With its illness, death,
Its breath from all the body openings.
A heated season, yes, indeed!
In isolation, lest we seed
How easy it has been to write these words:
They write themselves,
Springing from the shelves of mind,
Finding no solutions, resolutions.
With no Rolls, no Royce of power,
No real hero of the hour,
A questionable choice of candidates,
Vaccines and medicines, we wait,
We watch to see
Exactly what fate’s destiny
Has in its store
You and them and all –
by Arlene Corwin
………………………………..AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At Democratic Convention To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message
………………………………..–Forbes, August 12, 2020
recording a minute waltz
for the diminished convention.
Only a spare minute
for the failed planks
and rejected ideals
party bosses don’t share.
If she goes over the limit
cut off in a New York minute
steamed like Minute Rice
while we, the people, pay the price,
coerced into another seedy choice.
The chances for party reform: very minute.
by Ed Werstein
George Washington Didn’t Wear A Mask
in a loud voice
he was armed
I could see that
a fellow countrymen
in camo trousers
the clock stopped in March
before crossing the Delaware
by John Stupp
What Goes Around
When Trump started up the gain-of-function
research Obama had shut down, fearing
that fucking with nature without compunction
could lead to vile bugaboos appearing,
he opened a door that should’ve stayed shut
for safety reasons — leave the bats alone,
don’t muck about in guano, hombre, but
no, no getting through a head made of bone.
After all the taunts, and talks of hoaxes,
claims he takes Hydroxychloroquine,
after all the scientific coaxes
to make him understand, to come to glean.
Was Trump reckless, daft, or just plain lazy?
It’s enough to drive you batshit crazy.
by John Hawkins
Patient Zero, Or Zero Patience?
He called it a partisan coup, it
provoked his mulish defiance.
But there is no cure for stupid,
and he’s sick because: science.
“One day it will just disappear;
a miracle,” he said.
“But not today. I’m staying here,”
answered the COVID.
It isn’t fair to say he asked
or that he got his wish,
but he refused to wear a mask:
President petri dish.
by Charles Joseph Albert
No Vaccine For Me
I’m not taking a vaccine based on a political agenda
Touting Hydroxychloroquine, bleach, or perhaps
A UV light shoved up the ass, convalescent plasma
another misinformed attempt to con us into reelecting
him as nearly 250,000 died from Covid-19, he lies
A vaccine just in time for the Presidential Election
without going through the 3 stages as required
he has no insight, empathy, medical degree
It’s all about him, fuck the rest of us, I’m not taking
this vaccine, I’ll keep my 70-year-old ass on lockdown
take my chances with a mask and social distancing
No, it won’t be me.
by Aurora M. Lewis
He calls it a hoax
On just plain folks
By the Wokes.
His words are smoke
A con man’s cloak
Meant to provoke
And lead dolt blokes
That Covid chokes
To their death croaks.
His life’s The Hoax.
by Ralph LaRosa
will resolve itself like rain.
Restaurants will reopen,
Nothing will change.
by John Jack Cooper
How and What
Alone, we are Head
Together, Head and Heart
Alone, we attack and defend
Together, we forgive and mend
by Matthew Borrelli
“RESPECT.,” by Christel Roelandt
I Can’t Breathe
I can’t breathe
Between the man
in the metro
and the wide
eye of darkness
roaming above us-
I can’t breathe-
between words that are
I can’t breathe
– This tale I used to
be told when I was
to be wrong, the bear
the little girl, the wolf
and the witch
laughing in Victory-
I can’t breathe.
Candy doesn’t taste
in this ocean of
seems to merge into
white cloth on our
you hear every
minute in the metro,
between one another,
the soaring paranoia
one reads in people’s
their innocent days,
laughter was a
the empty streets
that seem to be
grinning at us-
I can’t breathe.
The plastic bags
the trash carelessly
thrown on the floor,
in noise and misery,
I can’t breathe- the
and bodies of our
times, I can’t breathe.
I will never
of an age
and a Nation
leave you the
right to live-
I can’t breathe-
black or white,
the will to kill
what you can’t
I can’t breathe-
this woman’s face
on the front page
because she has
while she was not
I can’t breathe-
I can’t breathe-
on this planet,
when Honor and
still existed, I can’t
and the million
at the sky
and say together:
We can breathe.
by Claire Andreani
Lonely With Huck
Huck Finn and I, white brothers,
react when things seem wrong,
immoral, our emotions differing
when we’re lonely or alone.
When alone, as Huck is often
on the river, he feels fine,
far from the lying sivilised shore.
I’m also best when hiking mountains,
away from cities, laws and lies.
Huck’s a child of ingrained racists
pursuing his runaway partner Jim.
Pressured on all sides, Huck’s lonely
when he and whites treat Jim as chattel.
As I am when a black man’s murdered:
Grown cold and empty, pained that pigment
brutally damns American men,
I damn whitewashed hypocrisy,
heartbroken and profoundly lonely.
by Ralph LaRosa
It’s Taco Tuesday,
the 19th of May, 2020
Another day in the life
of a raging pandemic
which has swiftly silenced
There’s no sense of calm
in the rage of this invisible storm.
Our lives promptly dismantled
Broken in bits and pieces.
The jubilant song of our Spring,
swiftly swept away. Eclipsed by
the cold stillness of Winter,
not in terms of weather,
but the inability to feel each other
through this lack of touching.
For ones need to be held could not be found
in the arms of social distancing.
In the midst of our fear, our sorrow
and ever mounting confusion,
we mourn our dead, as we the living
ponder the future wondering if our lives
will ever return to how things use to be.
We lie silently in the darkness
upon our beds our souls folded fetal
wrapped in a ball of nothingness.
by Prince A. McNally
The Tragedy of One Man
………………..“The tragedy of man is greater
when he gives it up.” -Antonio Porchia
in san francisco
from an associated press
a lone man stands
pictured outside his apartment
on the edge, of a…
fifth story window ledge.
a crowd gathers
& rescue firemen
in the back
of the crowd.
and the next thing
that you remembered
after he stepped off:
…was the impact!
& body, were as if glued
to the concrete sidewalk:
all of a sudden.
he was also
because he also heard
the man who yelled
in the back of the crowd:
the greatest part
of his own … life:
yelling, while still living
…………………..Originally published by: David Cope, Poet. In Big Scream magazine. Vol. 59, international issue. Sept. 2020, annual issue.
……………………Postscript: I heard that because of the Covid19 virus, there has been a dramatic increase in suicides. This poem conveys that, but with a very macabre twist at the end.
by Alan Yount
“Corona Jack,” by Christel Roelandt
An Inexplicable Interference
A pallor in the sky
when there are no clouds,
no mist or fog to instigate its appearance,
just a sense that an inexplicable form floats,
squandering the brilliant blue,
evoking a feeling, an indescribable tension
that looms larger than his own life,
larger than the anxiety
perpetrated by the daily news
and rumors that abound,
false or otherwise.
An event is transpiring
which he cannot ascertain,
one which no one can,
as if a higher power or intelligence
sent an invisible intruder to set into motion,
a complex set of circumstances
about to be revealed,
one in need of salient attention,
that this world, his world,
will be unable to manage or comprehend.
It would explain lapses in judgment,
odd ailments, deadly results
and the impending frenzy
at its incomprehensible scope,
occurring this day, this Saturday
while he sits in solitude upon his porch
through the late morning hours
and watches the sun attempt to mitigate
the invisible interloper,
the indiscernible alien,
thickening the air.
by Michael Keshigian
Soon He Will Sleep
The town was dying, almost dead, the wind
was redistributing fallen leaves, loose boards
on abandoned houses flapped in cacophonous
rhythms, and in one house in middle of a block,
an old man rocked by a broken window seeing
through half-opened eyes a history of the town
in a weedy field still sprouting remnants of baseball,
basketball, and soccer fields and courts.
In memory, games blew back and forth, youths
chased one another in wild abandon and a future
(not to be) promised itself to the young at play,
and their elders imagining what might be for their children.
The old fellow smiled at thoughts of a grandson
and granddaughter committing heart and soul
to a basketball game, their bodies singing joy joy joy.
Now the lad is lost in Iraq, the daughter lost to cancer,
their father locked up in a county jail, and their mother
disappeared along with her broken heart. The old man
isn’t sure whether to smile at the ghosts in the field,
or weep for his missing children and grandchildren.
Church bells abandoned, along with the buildings
in which they are hung, begin to ring as the wind
finds them alone and forgotten, but still able to mourn,
to sing for the couple of hundred people scattered
throughout what was once a town of some size.
Ring, ring, sing for all that once was and could have been,
what is and soon won’t be, all that we come to be,
the nothing we descend into, and all the lost joys, hopes,
prayers, visions, self-derision, celebration, and the worlds
imagined, found, lost, and the black hole awaiting us all.
Sing, bells, sing until your sound too is lost. Be the music
that lasts past our disappearance, our shout into indifferent eternity.
by Michael L. Newell
We Are Waiting
We are waiting
We’ve been waiting
For yesterdays’ sparkles
Or even a spark
And music to announce its arrival
Like maybe__ Miles reaching for the stars
But we heard only
Miles’ long pauses between notes
In slipped the moment: eternity in a flash
Pandemics, wild fires, hurricanes, raucous discords,
Even the city of light was darkened
And as we scrambled to find hospital beds
And hid behind our masks
Our flags were lowered to half-mast
To honor mankind at the crossroads
………………sung by billie holiday
asphyxiation knows the hangman’s knot
……….hands pressing down on necks & chests
………………..the taking of knees to crush black breath
a systemic virus
……….a firestorm travels
………………..north south east & west
……….with blood on leaves & stems
………………..burn alongside flesh & cities
an upside down bible
……….an upside down government
………………..an upside down flag at half-mast
trees bear strange fruit
……………….. rot across the land
by Patricia Carragon
Listening to Sonny Clark Under Quarantine
Just as fall brings it’s colors into the day
Usually, a jazz song fills the air like perfume
Like you, the scent is a siren’s call, a piano’s
Irresistible tinkling or a trumpet’s shout
As a saxophone mimics your curves, you
Keep the music inside your speech, long as a
Rose, you shine and sparkle, like a melody
Inevitably, jazz becomes your heartbeat,
Such are the wonders of music and medicine
Treatment from you is like a jazz melody
In your face, sweet healing lies, a jazz beat
Never to be surpassed, music like a cure, you
Always keep in supply, fulfilling demand
by Erren Kelly
A story told of
cooly valved circulation,
breath through a just-right mouthpiece
wound metal strings striding
low & deep, proud
…………………….& then picked
even when bop tempoed
light brushes snare
lithe in caress & shuffle
cruising through Art Farmer
a late morning soft
create a drift
among raindrops & melody
a pre-existing Corona memory
as good as any other
by Terrance Underwood
The artwork appearing throughout this collection is published with the gracious consent of Christel Roelandt, a Belgian painter from Ghent in Flanders. Since 2006 she has lived by the Mediterranean in Beirut. Her work focuses on the human form; faces and nudes, and finds inspiration by all things beautiful and often by books, music and films.
Poets contributing to this collection (listed in the order in which their poems appeared)
Linda Lerner is the author of 17 collections, including Takes Guts and Years Sometimes and Yes, the Ducks Were Real from NYQ Books (2011 & 2015) and When Death is a Red Balloon (Lummox Press, Nov. 2019), nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems currently appear in and/or were accepted in Maintenant, Paterson Literary Review, Gargoyle, Home Planet New, Chiron Review, Free State Review and Rat’s Ass Review
Born and bred in New Jersey, Frank De Canio works in New York. He enjoys music from Bach to Amy Winehouse, World Music, Latin, Opera. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. He likes Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost , Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath as poets.
Bob.Walters.grew up in the bayou country of East Texas. After graduating from West Virginia University, he has spent the last few decades teaching Literature, Writing, and Creative Writing in Asheville, NC, where life is good and music is wonderful. He also plays drums in a blues and soul band, writes fiction and poetry, and paints to calm a restless spirit. He is married to his favorite person, and they have three large sons.
Susandale’s poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, Penman Review, The Voices Project, and Jerry Jazz Musician. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. The Spaces Among Spaces from languageandculture.org has been on the Internet. Bending the Spaces of Time from Barometric Pressure is on the Internet now.
You can reach her by email at [email protected]
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a choral singer and a poet who loves traveling. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, Walt’s Corner, Alien Buddha Press, Cajun Mutt Press and First Literary Review-East. Her upcoming poetry collection, In the blue hour (Nirala Publications) will be published in early 2021.
Visit her blog by clicking here
Joseph Stellin Jr. lives in Santa Clarita CA and writes what some people call “Horror Poetry.” He has been published in the local Signal newspaper numerous times, and his works are included in five Anthologies presented by The Golden Pen Writer’s Guild. Joe is working on publishing a book of his own in the near future.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. in English on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Mad Swirl, Down in the Dirt, The Ink Pantry, Impspired Magazine, A New Ulster, Westward Quarterly, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, The Opiate, Penwood review, Crossways, Amethyst Review, Synchronized Chaos, Pinyon Review, Leaves of Ink, Peacock Journal, The Blotter, and many others.
Aurora M. Lewis.is a retiree having worked in finance for 40 years. In her fifties, she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with Honors from UCLA. Aurora’s recent poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by The Literary Hatchet, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Blue Nib, Trembling in Fear, Jitter Press, Scary Snippets, Copperfield Review to name only a few.
R. Bremner has been writing since the 1960’s. He appeared in 1979’s first issue of Passaic Review, along with Allen Ginsberg and Rich Quatrone. International Poetry Review, Oleander Review, Paterson Literary Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and.Shot Glass Journal.are a few of the journals he has been in. Ron has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg Awards, and has published six print books, including.Ektomorphic(Presa Press), and thirteen eBooks.
Lee Gary Shamberg is a Chicago-based screenwriter. In addition to writing for Magnum, P.I. and Hawaiian Heat, and being a Staff Producer on Lie Detector, he’s produced live jazz and blues events, and deejayed. He began writing about movies and music when, while still in high school, he reviewed Shirley Clark’s hard-bop feature film The Connection for Intermission Magazine, published by Chicago’s legendary Hull House Theater.
DH Jenkins worked as an associate professor of English/Speech for the Univ. of Maryland in Japan and Korea for many years. His jazz play, Ti Jean, about Jack Kerouac, has been staged in Tucson, AZ and in St. Joseph, MO. Thirteen of his poems are set to music in the film Call From a Distant Shore, a collaboration with musician/artist Bill Scholer, June 2020.
Ermira Mitre Kokomani is a bilingual poet, essayist and translator from Albania living in New Jersey. She has published a poetry book, The Soul’s Gravity, in Albanian. Her English poetry has appeared in CAPS book Mightier-Poets for Social Justice New York, 2020, Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow 13, New Jersey 2020, in the The POET’s international anthologies, On the Road and A New World, 2020, Live Encounters 2020, Mediterranean Poetry 2019, Montclair Write Group anthology, NJ, 2018.
E-mail: [email protected]
Harper Follansbee has been writing poetry and short stories since he graduated from college in 1971. In 1976, two stories, “The Curve-In Bar ” and “Abel Baker and the Lot 12, Range 12 Stonewall Blues,” appeared in dogsoldier (Spokane, WA) and Aspect (Cambridge, MA) respectively. His first book of poetry, In the Aftermath of Grief, was published by Antrim House (Simsbury, CT) in 2015, and “The Moon and My Mother” appeared in The New Flash Fiction Review #5 that same year. He has taught and tutored middle and high school English for 42 years.
Phil Linz was born in Brooklyn, NY and has lived in several cities across the United States. He began writing poetry in 1971 and is founder and publisher of Fierce Grace Press, which specializes in chapbooks, believing in the concept of “Publishing Under the Radar.”.His new book, The Chapbooks: Collected Poems, is available on Amazon.
Mr. Linz currently lives in Wilmington, DE; he may be reached at [email protected].
Arlene Corwin…Brooklyn born. Age 85. Harpist, pianist, singer. High School of Music & Art. Hofstra Univ. BA. 2 films (lead in one, composer in the other — see IMDb) original lead in “The Nervous Set, introducing “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”. 19 published poetry books, yogin since the age of 20-something. Lives in Sweden. Jazz musician forever. Mother owned jazz club, The Turf with Slim Gaillard in the 50’s, Hempstead, Long Island. (See.Arlene Corwin. Poetry.com .for longer version.). See Youtube for Arlene and some good tunes.
Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, is a Regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and represents that group on the Wisconsin Poet laureate Commission. In 2018 he received the Lorine Niedecker Award (judged by Nickole Brown) from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.
Reach him via email at [email protected]
John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and was published in August 2018. A chapbook entitled When Billy Conn Fought Fritzie Zivic was published by Red Flag Poetry in January, 2020. (From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist). He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and can be reached via email at [email protected].
John Kendall Hawkins is an American freelance writer currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe, and the US. He is a regular contributor to Counterpunch magazine. He is a former winner of the Academy of American Poets prize. He’s working on a novel.
Charles Joseph Albert writes poetry and fiction in San Jose, California, where he also performs with the South Bay Bones. His work has appeared recently in Spectrum, In Parentheses, and California Quarterly, and a new collection, Confession to the Cockroaches & Other Poems is available on Amazon.com.
Retired from professing English and American literature, Ralph La Rosa has published work on American writers, written for film, and now devotes himself to poetry, having published widely on the Internet, in print journals, in the chapbook Sonnet Stanzas, and in a full-length collection, Ghost Trees. My Miscellaneous Muse: Poem Pastiches & Whimsical Words was published in 2020.
photo by Guiseppe Velasco
John Jack Jackie (Edward) Cooper is the creator of “These Are Aphorithms” (http://aphorithms.blogspot.com), author of Ten (Poets Wear Prada, 2012), Ten … More (Poets Wear Prada, 2016), and translator of Wax Women, with French texts of the original poems by Jean-Pierre Lemesle (International Art Office: Paris, 1985). His work has appeared widely, in print and online. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he is editor and co-publisher of Poets Wear Prada, a small press based in Hoboken, New Jersey. He lives in Paris.
Matthew Borrelli is a born New Yorker. Living in Connecticut with the love of his life Andrea, he is a retired teacher and administrator as well as a lifelong child advocate and civil rights proponent. He writes from the heart, dictating his poetry as it flows from his feelings. His work is driven by passion and belief. Last year he published his first book, Standing in the Waves Way, a memoir in poetic form — a “Poemoir.”
After having completed her first years of Masters in American Literature at la Sorbonne and her second year of Masters at New York University, Claire Andreani started writing poetry, focusing her work on Emily Dickinson, E. E Cummings and Wallace Stevens. She is currently working on a collection of poetry called the city, exploring the absurdities and transformations imposed by Modern Society: how city life reflects in Human Nature and changes it.
She can be reached via email at [email protected]
Prince A. McNally is a Brooklyn-born poet, writer, essayist and philosopher whose work has appeared and is forthcoming in numerous literary magazines, journals and anthologies throughout the U.S. and abroad. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry as well as a book of philosophy due out in 2021. To view more of Prince’s work, feel free to follow him on FB Prince A. McNally, Instagram @prince_thepoet, Twitter @princeamcnally. You may contact him via email [email protected].
Alan Yount, 72, has published poetry for over 50 years. His poems have appeared in WestWard Quarterly (featured poet for summer, 2018). Big Scream, Spring: the Journal of the E.E. Cummings Society, and Waterways.
He has been in three anthologies: Passionate Hearts, Sunflowers.and Locomotives: Songs for Allen Ginsburg. Alan was one of 31 poets, along with Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Also Chrysalis Reader.
Alan plays trumpet and has led his own dance band.
Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his fourteenth poetry collection, What To Do With Intangibles, released in January, 2020 by Cyberwit.net. He has been published in numerous national and international journals and has appeared as feature writer in twenty publications with 7 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations.
Michael L. Newell lives in Florida. He has two recent books of poetry available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble: Wandering, and Each Step a Discovery, both books published by Cyberwit.net Press.
Patricia Carragon’s poem “Paris the Beautiful” won Poem of the Week from great weather for MEDIA. Her fiction piece “What Has to Happen Next” is nominated for Sundress Publications Annual Best of the Net Anthology. Her latest book from Poets Wear Prada is Meowku. Her debut novel, Angel Fire, was just released by Alien Buddha Press. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Erren Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet from Boston whose work has appeared in 300 publications (print and online), including Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine, Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, .and .Poetry Salzburg.
Terrance Underwood is a retired Rolls-Royce Service Engineer, veteran, College Grad (B.A. History) who has been listening to recorded jazz music since he was 5-6 yrs old. One of his first memories is listening to a 78 version of “Cherokee” by Charlie Barnett.