Carol Flake Chapman
Kan Ren Jie
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The Paris Juggler
The juggler was sweating as he attempted to entertain a crowd that had gathered around him in a Paris park. Attempted. He wasn’t doing a good job. Between the sweat and the weary look in his eyes, he obviously wasn’t well. Pricilla watched him, along with the others, a lump of sympathy in her throat. Being a former modern dancer, she was fascinated by anything as physical as juggling. The pins flung up into the air and the coordination needed to catch each pin as it rotated then toppled downward. Three pins. Four pins! What an eye, what a sense of timing a person needed to keep the props from plopping to the ground. Yesterday, the juggler was throwing and catching just fine. Today, he kept dropping pins, losing track of them. The pins, looking like miniature bowling object, were getting dusty.
The juggler stood in one of the narrow park lanes, in front of a tree stump. A woman in the crowd, a local, told Pricilla that the tree had become diseased, requiring it to be chopped down by “the City” a week ago. Pricilla smelled her faint, pleasant perfume. She noticed the tree (Pricilla wasn’t sure what kind of tree it was) was already sprouting newish branches, trying to make a comeback. Others in the crowd leaned in to hear what the lady was saying to Pricilla. Soon, people in the crowd were striking up conversations, telling one another their names and where they were from. Pricilla had just one more day in Paris before heading home to Toronto, she told the crowd. The teenager standing next to her said she lived in Seattle but was born in Alaska.
“I’m a real Alaskan Native,” she said while whipping her scarf around her neck. But soon the throng were exchanging looks and expressions and words expressing concern for the juggler.
“He looks like he has pneumonia,” the local woman said, a smile showing her pride in her proficient English.
“There’s an outbreak of the flu. Maybe he has that,” Pricilla said.
The juggler stared at Pricilla. His dark eyes. His dark, angry eyes is all Pricilla could think. Some men glared at her like that when they were attracted to her, as if romantic feelings engender rage. But then the thought occurred to Pricilla that illness, also, can generate rage.
He tossed a pin into the air. It made a swoosh sound that resembled the noise Pricilla heard in her inner ear when she rapidly scratched her scalp. Before he could catch it, the pin crashed to the ground; the juggler spat out syllables in French Pricilla supposed were curse words. Sweat continued to gleam on his forehead. Now, his nose was dripping.
“You’ve had enough of this for today. Go home,” Pricilla said to him. She didn’t want to be laughed at by saying this in her stammering. halting French. Also, she assumed he knew English because he was young and hadn’t seemed fazed by the English conversations going on around him.
“An ice cream shop is just around the corner,” the Alaskan Native woman said. “Maybe he could go there and sit--rest a while.”
Surprising the crowd, he let out a growl. Pricilla assumed it was a grown of frustration. He gathered his four pins. Pitched them all into the air. Started to juggle them expertly. The sweat disappeared from his face. The dribble from his nose instantly dried up. He smiled as he continued and continued to master the pins’ rotations. He had concocted his own invisible medicine--for himself and the crowd.
The Body Distorts Into A Manufacturing Defect
Pinocchio dreams of being a real boy. Strings unattached,
the body more than a cackle of unhinged joints. His want
binds like a promise, pixie dust settles in constellations
he cannot wipe off, a birthmark for virtue that markets itself
like a clause for humanity.
To prove herself alive, the girl pricks
her skin open, a wide eyed spectacle of blood, glistening like a speck
of light on the galactic expanse of the body. Masked in coagulation
– the skin repairs itself of sin, the blood a sacrificial stain on granite.
No beloved has ever held me close enough to find where
blades have touched this body, gliding through uneven ridges
on skin, slowing at no speed bump.
This is not a eulogy
for a body that scars too easy, breaks open like a pistachio,
the seed a peace offering for all the collateral damage.
On nights I cannot but feel like a fragment, I duct tape
the mirror in a patternless void. I am
afraid of all the eyes can remember, so
I unravel in slow motion. I’ve learnt to love this body only in pieces.
Hey y’all check out my #FenomFestival photos it was rad until I started puking #wtf #sickasshit #praytoporcelaingod /
They got sick when the mayonnaise at the #FenomFestival went bad #uglymayo /
Festival shuts down as thousands sicken #BigFail /
Corporate sabotage deliberate, experts say, as thousands targeted with deadly bacteria at #FenomFestival #killthecorps /
They want us dead, but we won’t go quietly #FenomFestivalSurvivor #killthecorps /
Picketers block entrance to @VilaHQ, held responsible for making people sick #ShutVila #killthecorps /
Wall Street Journal reports Vila CEO resigns amid poisoning controversy #uglymayo #killthecorps /
Fake news killed my company, ex-Vila CEO posts on Twitter #SimonVilaSucks #uglymay #killthecorps /
Protesters camp out on @GooberPark grounds where thousands were poisoned #neveragain #resistnow #SimonVilaSucks /
Me after getting tear-gassed in @GooberPark it’s no joke I’ma sue their sorry asses #thugcops/
Mysterious bacterial illness spreads, infects thousands #baxemergency /
Terrorism blamed for bax099, with no cure in sight #bax099 #terrorism /
Find the killers #findthekillers /
They go low, we go high. Find the killers. #findthekillers #FenomFestivalSurvivor /
Russian agents inside US behind bax099 plot, @AP reports #bax099 #FenomFestivalSurvivor /
Where is the fucking CIA, FBI? #WeMatter #FenomFestivalSurvivor #bax099 /
Guam manufacturing plant found responsible for bad mayo #WhereIsGuam #bax099hoax /
President says bax099 a hoax by Russian agents probing for US weaknesses #bax099hoax /
Ill never fully recover from my injuries and I will make the bastards pay for what they did to me. Check out my before/after photos on Instagram. I look like shit. #SueGuam #SueVila /
Critics favorite new @mayoless recipes for making tuna fish, salad dressings, and more! #beyondmayo #bestnewrecipes /
The last time we met was March 8, 2020. I sat with you and ate a sandwich, a pear, and a chocolate bar that I brought from home. I crumbled some bread for the pigeons who flocked nearby. They never change. You were quieter than usual that day and didn’t chatter. Indeed, you barely spoke. I didn’t mind. I’m more of an introvert than you have ever been. Although you are older than me, we did grow up together, and we tried on many selves before we became who we are now. I knew you at every step of the way, and you knew me. Sometimes I left you in a fit of rage or pique, and sometimes you left me in search of someone or something new, but we always returned to each other.
I wasn’t especially worried by your silence that day, but I should have been. I should have realized it was most likely the last day I would see you, and our mutual friends, for a very long time. As you know, one of our dearest friends is 96 years old, and although she is in good health and continues to practice piano for an hour each morning, she is still 96. I tease her that her Carnegie Hall debut will take place in 2070 and that she must keep preparing for it. I like to believe that miracles still happen.
I think you know that I had a lovely day. The weather was cool but sunny, and the wind was light. My lunch tasted so good in the fresh air. At the concert, my view was unobstructed, and I was delighted to finally hear in person the music I had heard only on recordings. Even the line to the bathroom moved quickly during intermission. On the bus ride home, I listened to music on my phone and thought again of the day, and of you, with gratitude and love.
I’m home now, as we all are. I miss you. I hope to see you again someday. I hope I will recognize you, and I hope you will recognize me. Until we can be together again, my city, please take care.
Carol Flake Chapman
I am living in the eternal present not planning
For a future that is far too distant to see clearly
And so I live one moment at a time though
I am not sure this is mindfulness but necessity
I am constantly jettisoning things from my nest
That I don’t need never really needed at all
Those shiny things that have lost their luster
Since I can’t really shop for dresses and shoes
As there is nowhere to wear them anyway
I think I’ll try on some new identities for a change
A whole new set of skin and bones and maybe fur
Or maybe feathers sprouting on my head and tail
What if I could be a bear for a day or an owl for a night
It might feel good to growl or hoot my heart out but
I don’t want to be a raptor despite their soaring beauty
Though I would like a bird’s-eye view of the world
I wonder if I might already be partway there
As I am reverting to a kind of animal vigilance
Not a werewolf sprouting hair on my paws
Looking down in horror at my sharp claws
But a herd animal suddenly lost on its own
Hyper aware of the possibility of predators
Without masks lurking in wait to cough on me
I see things moving out of the corner of my eye
I am ready to run away at the slightest sneeze
I wonder if evolution is taking some twists and turns
And Gaia might be regretting letting humans reign
And she is sending us on the road not taken eons ago
Though it does not feel as though we are going backward
But forward as we realize we are lost without each other
The automatic doors parted, and the first thing he did was head for the produce section. Between the Roma tomatoes and ginger there wasn’t a bulb to be found. There were two cloves on the kitchen counter at home, but the recipe called for six.
He pictured the people who’d scooped them up by the armful waking in the middle of the night to the sound of fingers tapping on glass, then opening the windows of their fourth-floor apartments for a loved one they hadn’t seen for days, inviting them to come inside, telling them how worried they’d been, telling them they looked ill.
He gathered the other ingredients and turned down the aisle with herbs and spices. There were plenty of small glass containers of the powdered stuff between the fennel and ginger.
He was in the kitchen with a glass of cabernet sauvignon before nightfall. He took both cloves from their bowl on the counter and set them on a cutting board, made a slit in the first one with a paring knife, its skin -- bruised purple and white as newly fallen snow -- sticking to the pad of his thumb as he peeled it off.
He minced both cloves, tipped the cutting board over the pot, scraped it clean with the paring knife, added two pints of cherry tomatoes. He stirred everything between sips from his wineglass.
Through the window over the kitchen sink he noticed a young man sitting on the corner, his neck exposed, his legs stretched before him in the street.
The next time he looked out, the young man was lying on the grass next to the curb. He wondered if the kid had taken too much of something. Either way, the sun was down. Curfew was now in effect.
The third time he looked out the kid was sitting up again. Across the street a slow-moving figure resolved itself into a young woman relying on a wooden cane, a young woman who hadn’t considered how she would look to something peeling and separating itself from the shadows. She sat down next to the kid on the corner instead of waiting for her companion to get up.
At that moment the oil crackled, calling him to stir the bursting tomatoes, to lower the heat. He added two teaspoons of agave syrup to the pot, then obliged it. The tomatoes spilled their seeds and juices.
The final time he looked out the window he watched the pair rising, first white and navy, then white and crimson. Stripes on a barber pole. They headed towards the park, while he poured himself the rest of the wine and gave the pot another stir.
A block and a half away, the supermarket -- closed since sundown -- was out of garlic.
Kan Ren Jie
He cleans every Sunday, the stray strands
of a mop curling in blackness. A glimmer of
of dripped liquorice, gaudy sweetness
tinged with ritual. A liturgy for the sterile. A hymn for the capsule. This sacrament
of lemon curling to droplets, oozing sour rain, like forced memory of healing.
He washes off the squawk: a crow that stirs at dawn, its cries that drowns delirium. He hears
the blaring: radios, dying embers of television a minister flattened in white, drowned
by a cough. This is the cleaning of a Sunday noon: where the week is washed
of its scars. When leaving home he feels fear in the weeds: its overgrown shoots thrust round a neck like a garland. A slow tightening. This wildness
drapes the skin, shedding off mouths like thin depressions, potholes
floating inhuman. He asked for a haircut that evening. He asked for a barber, the harsh buzz
a Number One that fades to Zero. So now he cleans off the sky with Dettol, striking the floor as battle.
The cheap blur of lemon-lavender thinning as consolation. A mop lying wrenched
of essence. A shaved head, the harsh buzz of white.
The grimace of his barber. The sweating forehead, a patch sour like wine. Cleaning is erasure:
where skin peels, rust thickening the nails as ripples. Here is the dim flaring of fear. He dips the mop in water. He embraces clean.
Today I Saved a Centipede
Another day in isolation. Not much to report.
I made omelets for breakfast and ate them on the back porch with the marigolds I’d potted the day before.
Afterwards, I called a friend who lives alone.
We talked about cotton masks and the best place to order.
Oh, and I saved a centipede.
Spotting it in the trashcan by the toilet, I almost sprayed it with the Windex in my hand.
Why not pardon the poor thing? Dump the can outside?
It scurried away on its multiple feet while I went back to another day of feeling useless at home, wishing there was more I could do to save lives.
My hearing these days not so good
and sight is fading, understood?
Best table cloth, dementia spread,
I eat confusion, marmalade.
See here, enfolded on my lap,
my lad brought me a Christmas box,
and though Greek history at school,
I learned, imported, Trojan horse.
Our stocks of alcohol should rise,
invade the skin, puncture the pride
of coronation, covid king -
the spectre, orb should abdicate.
And closer home the mask of gauze
trussed over zygomatic arch
supported ears, hide nose and mouth,
but Covid ball invades the masque.
I bought a tonic for my nerves
with malt extract and beef, refined -
add vitamins, health supplement -
small Virol bottle on the shelf.
Antibiotics will not work,
germ not susceptible I’m told.
They know a virus from a cold
but Alzheimer, another quirk.
Rebirth of a Perspective
Dark shapes. Dark shifting shapes with blurred edges, moving in and out of view,
Am I a part of the darkness? Or a muddled lens I peer through?
Does it begin with darkness, or is this now the end?
Not standing out, into my muddy surroundings I blend.
Though it seems a vaguely familiar place, of which I have experienced before,
Some remembrance taking shape, though it was a different skin then that I wore.
Though my eyes are starting to see more clearly, the shapes around me taking form,
The other parts and limbs of me are wobbling, uncertain of their uses just as I was born.
Some components still seem to be missing, though I breathe I am still incomplete,
The edges and boundaries of my reach not yet defined, though I can hear my heart clearly beat.
Timidly I test the limits, finding out how far I can go,
Looking to what I can begin to learn, what I already know.
And now as my nerve endings, begin to smoothly coordinate each movement,
My heartbeat matched with my breathing, more assuredly fluent.
The surrounding darkness, doesn’t seem to blind me anymore,
A calmness now embodying me, that wasn’t there before.
Though the parts of me are from seasons long ago, and have endured the steps of life,
A vigour beams now from my being, its energy newly rising like a fluttering kite.
And now my steps seem more certain, connecting with the earth,
From the darkness and uncertainty, strides a carefully crafted birth.
The birth of a new perspective, of taking on the new,
Though with the same eyes I gaze, I glean a different view.
The things there that I saw before, are still now much the same,
Though at a different angle I now observe them, even though they go by their unchanged names.
And I myself am still composed of the same fibres, that existed within me before,
Though a much different person I am when I change my perspective, a bird learning to soar.
Even though pieces of me still, have yet to rejoin me as a whole,
It is amazing the wonders to be discovered and achieved, when one newly experiences the world.
(for Francis Fukuyama)
i go nowhere. i lounge, empty as 17 million homes. i ponder
my discontent. change of clothes at three o’clock. red shirt.
barefoot. i brandish my thoughts at the sky, as if threatening
and like tossing a tennis ball await some return, some fortune
to come bouncing back to me. nothing arrives.
i contemplate lies. if the highest state of human achievement is indecision
it will never lie between monopoly and collapse. we will at best pause
to backslide once or twice. we can’t remain on the brink of fire.
we can’t maintain these industries of disease. we can’t keep people
crouching on the stoops of vacant houses, begging for shelter.
i go nowhere. the sun gets hot and now i wear shorts.
the academies are closing—they call it the end of history.
i’ve lived less than twenty years and already i see a second
recession squawking towards my lifetime. yet they affront
that this, this is the end of history.
It’s time for a POP QUIZ
to wake you up and to get you going
because you were looking a little
lazy sleepy disinterested lackadaisical
Don’t worry, it’s only
ONE QUESTION LONG
and you, no doubt, have sensibilities to your name.
Please look at the photo provided and answer this:
What year were the words “Black Alert”
spray painted on the side of
an elementary school of an
AFFLUENT EDUCATED LIBERAL-MINDED
when a Black family moved in
across the street from the school?
feeling frustrated? feeling tricked?
your hand waving in the air in protest because
the answer could be
ANY OF THESE YEARS?
because the virus of racism has yet to be inoculated
and it won’t be enough
to just power wash it away
The fearful ones saw this coming and fear is the opposite of love. This one turned out to be that more appealing healthy fear: the fear of not being healthy. This thing we’re collectively experiencing must be harnessed, semi-time-capsuled and demi-appreciated, much later, if at all; that eternal lesson too late learned with warnings of wanings and wisdoms overturned. The world has nothing to do now but watch; this is the moment(o) of the under-stocked, over-delusioned and appropriately suppressed Apox Gen.
We will come back hard with the vapid-ness, because this is all too heavy for us and everyone will have had way too long to think; without gaining perspective, it’s a downrising upfall. Too much time to wonder, but not about the productive things like how to fix everything we’ve done wrong. Good thing the borders are closed and the leader(s) maintain(s) complete power coupled with completer mania. Oh, and the vice of all vices, who thinks everything is a plan out of our control, is the one doing the controlling. What could go right? Only the left is right, and only the right is wrong. How can there be business as usual with no business that’s usual—or open? Biz is not b(l)ooming, just emptying gardens. Collective conscious thought therapy--There’s time for that now. Nothing left but time, killing time…and us.
But we can’t start this ambiguous. Everyone has turned Netflix back on, even though there is nothing actually left on there to discover. If you finally do watch something you think that no one has seen yet, there will still be that one person--at that party you’re not allowed to throw—who’s seen it.
It’s a panic people –but don’t worry, you’re perpetually panicking so this is just a Whensday. When is Whensday? – would have to remember what day is to figure that out. No need to be alarmed, just armed, shrug the vibes off as they stick to your coat(of arms—keep the arms inside the coat—don’t want to infect the others because we’re all out of purifiers---some dude bought them all to fully exploit supply and (mostly) demand—whether or not that’s an entrepreneurial or a scumbaggy is up to you. And did you know that bad vibes can remain airborne for up to three days-or was it hours? Look it up. You have the luxury to look everything up now, but it probably won’t be true. Unless you sn(o)op(e) around. Actually, don’t look anything up unless you want to be up, til 5:20 am, inconclusively wrapping up your third neurotic call in a row.
And the printed tales aren’t getting better, we’re all berning without reading, PA, whilst berning for bernie as a voting option. In Reading, PA, with purple skies and blue (collar) faded overalls – how now does it there fare? They used to have fairs there, not now, not fair.
But start it right. Do something right before all the things done wrong finally catch up. How could this place turn its back on us, everything normal is gone (oh wait- normal was garbage 99% of the time for 99% of us) How did they let this happen to the priviledge(de)s??? Just to show us a glimpse of what rich people prison is like? Been preparing since the guns and the bunkers, with a quiver of timber. You will know the place to go when it all comes crashing, on top of you. Killed by your own fall(en)-out shelter---that hurts both physically and ironically.
“If you’ve really given up hope completely, why are you still flossing?” PAUSE
“What if I just like flossing?”
“Nobody likes flossing.”
“There are enough people that a someone likes everything. Or at least, there used to be (joke, population will never be the issue. I’ll see you in the climate-controlled dome.)”
We need hourly gravestones for the living---just to remind us how we wasted it all as we’re still living it---“she plays solitaire, a lot”—what will it take to change us?
My brother insistently consists that everyone should have tea with him, before we knew warm liquids were a current cure. There’s a spiritual element to his request of course, only clear to those enlightened. It’s go(o)d to find g-d in a crisis, especially when g-d is the one responsible... wiping out the weak in weeks. He compares everything to a book he’s never read, pieced together only in the heavenly heavily channeled webs. And his breakdown/rise up proceeded the virus, leading one to wonder if the power of his revelations might have been the cause. Everything has purpose and there’s a plan. Except an emergency plan-- that’s on you, buddy. Good thing we got rid of that pesky task force (not the space-force) and also the EPA, and everything else intended to help. Then again, this is what we were promised.
A lurch and a leech and a love all wait in the same spot for me to drop my crumbs. Ialways feared being reincarnated as a crumb—maybe that’s what happening and we all died in G(ch)ina, formerly known for its Buddhism. Worry but it’s more out of habit now, just repetitions ingrained from when reaction was genuine. We’re trained from the first moment, and we never ask. We couldn’t then and don’t want to now. Our first smile: purely positive (p)reinforcement.
Every fake prez/news update, every talking point(less), is a step nexter to mystery. Everyone will make up their own version of what is going on. You’re xanxious (Xanax+anxious)? Well you should be. You’re not worried? Well we can work with that too; leave your mask at home.
Is it possible to run out of homemade alcoholic sanitizer if you haven’t made any yet…? Better to run out of that than the real kind.
We dye our hair out of boredom now…we always thought we were doing things for ourselves but we’re realizing we really make our efforts for others.
The rage contained in these walls echo only for us, meaning nothing to anyone else. What does it mean to be mean, never to see what I might mean? It feels better to be better, it should anyways. Morals decease. Yes, will see myself out just to escape, via the south hospital(ity)—
Can’t find my phone; even it has started socially distancing from me.
Watch the trained ones report, petrified like trees, but there’s nothing concrete in this jungle. It’s enough not knowing. They taught us that in agnosticism school (they changed the schedule every week—because nothing is certain--)
The end of the world doesn’t happen all at once, like you expect it to, or maybe even want it to; it’s gradual and sustained and flickering panic, tugging you always to see what you refuse: it’s sharp and it’s often and it’s forcefully ignored. Learn to break free of the freedom that’s always been there, crutching you with shadows paved in stoned chaos under jagged lid.
Play by the rules of Covid-19
But do not give way to fear
Smile beneath the Mask
Slow Boat to Pound Town in the time of COVID
We’ve been isolating for weeks.
It’s time to forget what you know about me.
I’m in the mood for gland-to-gland combat,
for bending you over an armchair
and showing you the fifty states,
for cattle-prodding your oyster ditch with my lap rocket.
I’ve no idea what that means,
but it’s got to feel a whole lot better
than a Lysol vaccine. Release the Kraken!
Blitzkrieg mit dem fleischgewehr—
Lightning war with a meat rifle.
Use me now, disinfect me later—
let me play with the box our kid came in
and forget about death for a while.
Why shouldn’t we have a pants-off dance-off?—
I’ve been knocked out by you since day 1,
and I know you’ve been eye-balling me.
What’s not to love?—
my thoughts are forbidden and exalted.
I can’t wait to put my ranch dressing
in your Hidden Valley. Put down your cosmo-rita,
let me rummage in your root cellar,
bow-chick-a-wow-wow. Let’s make a porno—
you can laugh at my fat, hairy ass,
and I at you, heels-to-Jesus.
Ecstasy trumps fear, trumps Trump,
so let’s do the horizontal greased-weasel tango.
Put some stank on my hang-down, baby.
I’ll get the camera, you get the handcuffs—
marital congress is in session.
Sink or Swim
in the Forest of the Night
Bios of Contributors
Austin Alexis is the author of Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award) and two chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Barrow Street, Paterson Literary Review and other journals. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Vermont Studio Center.
"The Paris Juggler" was inspired by my trip to Paris several years ago as well as by the COVID Pandemic. I wanted to write about the crisis without directly referring to it.
Kanika Ahuja is a poet, performer and educator of poetry based in New Delhi, India. She holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Ambedkar University, Delhi and has been a Jijivisha Fellow for Poetry at Slam Out Loud. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, and appears, or is forthcoming, at The Medley, Sidereal Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, Funicular Magazine and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @kanika0326.
Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern’s poetry books: No no the saddest and Waterwalking in Berkeley, Fithian Press; greater distance, Lines & Faces, his press with artist and printer Robert Woods, linesandfaces.com. Alan earned runner up in The Raw Art Review's “The John H. Kim Memorial Short Fiction Prize” for 'The alleyway near the downtown library'; he won a medal in 2019 from SouthWest Writers for a WWII story set in Italia; and he won the 2015 Littoral Press Poetry Prize. Alan performs with dancer/choreographer Lucinda Weaver as PACES and with musicians from Composing Together, composingtogether.org.
Amy Bernstein writes for the page, the stage, and forms in between. Her novel, Ell, will be published in June 2021. Hours of doom-scrolling on social media gave rise to "Deepfake," a short story told through posts. Her website is amywrites.live.
Born and raised in NYC, Ann Calandro is a medical editor, writer, mixed media collage artist, and classical piano student. Visit www.anncalandro.webs.com to see her artwork.
Connor Doyle is an emerging photographer and filmmaker based in the Chicagoland area. Using a number of analog photography formats, Doyle’s work focuses on the idiosyncratic details of daily life in Northern Illinois, especially his native Wheaton. Working with the Viral Theme, "Sin Virus" reflects not only the dangers of Covid-19 denial but the exploitation of people's frustrations, especially through religion, for mere personal gain. Connor’s work has been featured in the Prairie Light Review, the Burningword Literary Journal, and The Hole In The Head Review. If he could meet one dead celebrity, it would either be Andrei Tarkovsky or Franz Kafka.
A former journalist, Carol Flake Chapman returned to poetry, her first love, after the sudden death of her husband on a wild river in Guatemala shattered her world. Poetry, she found, was the language she needed to respond to a world gone haywire. After the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, she felt a journalist's urgency to respond, but with a poetic sensibility that encompassed the emotional and spiritual aspects of a world suddenly turned upside down.
Touer Haines lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Kan Ren Jie writes poetry and fiction. He recently graduated from Yale-NUS College in Singapore, majoring in Literature and Creative Writing, and currently works at New York Shanghai as a Global Writing and Speaking Fellow. In his writing, Ren Jie engages with and explores questions about culture, religiosity, and the experience and narratives that surround familial life.
Jacqueline Jules is a former librarian who found herself intrigued by almost every book she put on the shelf. As a reader and as a writer, she doesn’t restrict herself to one genre. She is the author of 45 books for young readers on a wide variety of topics. Her poetry has appeared in over a 100 publications, including three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press) and Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman's Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com .
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had some 190 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com
A 2020 graduate of University of St Andrews in Scotland with a Biology BSc upper second class (Honours), Natalie Kormos competes on the horse polo and ballroom dancing teams in addition to taking part in golf, sailing and reeling. Natalie began writing poetry when her Mum read Hailstones and Halibut Bones to her at a very young age. Natalie’s work has been featured in North American and Canadian poetry competitions hosted by Creative Communication, The Poetry Institute of Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion and Polar Expressions Publishing.
Inspired by great masters as Vrubel and Monet, Van Lanigh creates figurative and landscape pieces. Her unique style is a reaction to abstractionism in an attempt to capture surrealistic yet casual reality. This is especially underlined by new forms and materials used in Van Lanigh’s artworks aimed to achieve the viewer’s resonance between visual effect and message of the painting. One of her experiments is getting Pointillism into 3D space by making a series of human-face sculptures with small colorful handcrafted polymer clay balls. The Project “Chasing Rainbows” is about the perception of the world of feelings. No one fell the exactly one emotion at the time, it’s always the crazy waterfall with undertones of sensations. And this rainbow of feelings Van Lanigh interprets in her works by running away from the real world of colors to the imaginary universe of impressions.
Harry Longstreet is retired after twenty-five years as a writer, producer and director of filmed entertainment, primarily for television. When he’s not busy with his wife, five children and six grandchildren, he keeps the creative juices flowing with his still photography. He’s always looking for images that speak to the human condition and the world around him. He favors ambient light and unposed, unaware subjects. In the last eighteen years, he’s had a number of one-man shows, awards and his work has appeared in more than two hundred national and international juried exhibitions. Longstreet is twice a Single Image Merit Award recipient from Black & White Magazine and twice a Single Image Merit Award winner from Color Magazine. In 2013, he was awarded the Gold Medal (monochrome) in the International Varna Salon, and in 2014, he took Best in Show in the annual CVG Washington State competition and in 2017 First Place-Photography.
Rather than use this bio space to list publishing credits and award accolades, N. Nagy would prefer to use it to ask you to DO SOMETHING; to use your own gifts and talents to shed light on and dismantle the systematic racism in our world. Racism is a virus, indeed, and a real nasty one at that. Act with kindness every day.
Allison Saft, Allison.email@example.com, is a creative artist, from writing and performance, to music and art. She has a BA in English/Theatre and a MA in Writing for Performance. She wrote, directed, and acted in the 2017 and 2019 Short Works Series at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in NYC. Allison has been published in Another Chicago Magazine, Literary Orphans, Emanations : 2 + 2 = 5, Silver Birch Press, Poetry Nation, Sensible Reason, and others. She is also an active political activist and inactive philosopher. She hopes her writing may act as a vehicle for social change, internal exploration, or at the least, be read.
There is a moment behind all moments
A silence beyond all comprehension
And a stillness within all things
Tatum Scott works as a scribe
For the ineffable
Michael Steffen’s fourth poetry collection is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press. His work has appeared in a variety of literary journals, including Poetry, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Rhino and others. New work has recently appeared in Third Wednesday, Chiron Review and The Comstock Review. Michael is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, NY.
Michael Thompson is an artist living in Chicago and during the pandemic, concentrating on smaller works including collage and memory jugs made with found ceramic bits and pieces collected while walking along beaches, rail tracks, resale shops and river banks. His artistic process has always been a solitary affair and in that respect the social isolation has had little effect on his working but the virus has had a serious effect on sales as his commercial work of making and selling large decorative kites has fallen substantially and he finds himself unable to even visit that studio. "Sink or Swim" is an image that seems to encapsulate his feeling only too well; our hopes of salvation may simply be an illusion.
Jennifer Weigel describes herself as a very conceptual artist who tends to get an idea first and then figure out how to convey it utilizing whatever media seems suited at the time. Often some ideas take on many iterations in many media. With all of the emphasis on personal protective gear amidst COVID Jennifer wants to draw attention to how big of an impact sex education and heightened awareness of AIDS has. We need to further education and outreach efforts to overcome abstinence-only education policies.
Aubrey Zahn is an artist, activist, and attorney living in Brooklyn, New York. She enjoys reading dystopian fiction, battling dystopian realities, and dressing her dog in ridiculous sweaters.