by Briana Belmonte
by Julia Preziosi
by Krystle Carkeek
by Dr. Sean Reed
by Abigail Piccolo and Kira Dubester
by Lydia Prokosch
by Grace Forster
by Kira Dubester
She sits quietly alone
In an empty, dark house
Watching dancing shadows.
Her eyes dart about
Uncertainty winning, but
The outside keeps calling.
We are condemned to a life
Six feed apart from
Friends, foes, and lovers alike.
The lover’s gentle kiss
Through dusty glass
Can be felt sometimes perhaps.
Yet she aches for him,
Or any human touch
Outside her four stone walls.
But six feet apart
We must live this way
Distance, it saves us now.
She longs to escape, but
With nowhere to go
Infection hiding in sight.
Maybe to the middle
Of the ocean she’ll swim
Or up a mountain she’ll climb
So she will finally find
Her own safe zone;
But still there, she sits alone.
At night, my wife and I watch the BBC
Striking newscasters with charming accents
Recount illness, death, mass graves
Blurred faces of ICU patients float by
Today the horizon is a vee
Either side a mountain slope
Virginia Blue Ridge in spring
The bottom a path and a stream
No one else is near
The air smells of fringe tree and sunlight
That slithers through new leaves
To the forest floor
The music is stream fall and breeze
Woodpecker trill and hammer
Shriek of a sharp-shinned hawk
Alarm call of a chipping sparrow
I wade an icy pool
Feet painful then numb
The fly line snakes to the rock above
A piece of caddis fluff bobs a riffle
My heart jumps as it always does
At the slurp of trout at fly
Second cast slurp is followed by tug
A small green jewel with purple spots
Comes to my wet hand
“I am your best friend now” I tell him
As I calm the wriggling, slip the hook
Return the splendid, panicked fish to stream
Next pool up a snake
has half swallowed a small trout
Has his meal on a flat rock
Slides through weeds, is gone
Down the trail a she bear
and two cubs are foraging
I keep my fear spark low
They amble away up the slope
I wave to the friend whose land I have crossed
His wife asked me to touch nothing
Keeping our microflora separate
She has young ones to keep safe
The car radio is tuned to news
The virus and numbers all they discuss
All that I want to hear
The knife edge we all walk sharp as the sun falls
Time unassuming; consuming
tick tock, stand, walk
into the walls, you turn away; stay.
Your head a device
to make four walls seem larger than they are.
Think twice, echo their advice;
You can’t go far.
Stay here, stay home, stay all alone,
there’s still a world, it’s just on your phone.
Scroll through your head, lay in your bed,
You can go far, just stay where you are.
For a time, no time, just day night daze -
time has wings, it sits quietly; stays.
take your time.
It doesn’t belong to anyone;
there it goes,
Sleeves pushed down, covering my hands
I grip the shopping cart through thick fabric
and head into the warzone.
“Oh, it’s Saturday night, yeah /
I pray for the wicked on the weekend”
the chart topper from a couple years back
echoes through the near-empty aisles.
It all sounds distant, like I’m underwater
or in another room or another reality entirely.
Rows and rows of food beckon me forward,
their contents a necessity and a threat.
Each person I pass, a landmine.
A woman with gloves holds her cell phone
to her ear, latex fingertips grazing her cheek.
We are our own undoing.
I grab my nosh necessities: spinach and spices,
bananas and bread, waffles and wine
and I run head first out the door.
A bath of hand sanitizer awaits me
as I return to my car, triumphant. For now —
only in two to fourteen days will I know for sure.
The four walls of my room
like a pinewood frame
keeping the sickness out;
but little to do to keep
the inside sane.
Like a garden left
unheeded, the weeds
and thorns, and all sorts
of earthy worms,
find root in fertile ground,
once bare but no longer
tended by their
now gone to seed.
The virus at bay; but
what rot and slug,
and all form of despoiling
bug, can find lush bed
in ripe fruit once red,
in the homely soil
of my lonely head?
When the pruning
shears of reason
fail to appear in season,
there is no restraint
to what strange
and dangerous fruit
may take root
where it may.