2 Horatio

twohoratioliterary

Issue #3
Poetry of the Pandemic



Volume

three


2 HORATIO

Volume 3

Summer/Fall 2020

Special Issue: Poetry of the Pandemic

editors

Joan Cappello

Jennifer Stewart Miller

Elaine Sexton

publisher

Elaine Sexton

designer

John Kramer

cover art: Terry Castle, Hydrangea Without a Cause, altered photograph.

Inside covers are digital negatives of cover image, made with kind permission of the artist.


POETS

7 Jessica Greenbaum

8 Scott Hightower

9 Myronn Hardy

10 Maja Lukic

12 Peter Covino

13 Jennifer Stewart Miller

14 Jason Schneiderman

15 M.C. Bolster

16 Sean Singer

17 David Groff

18 Frances Richey

19 Joanne Proulx

21 Marilyn Mazur

22 Denton Loving

23 James Brasfield

24 Maya Mahmud

26 Julio César Paz González

27 Jane Wallace Pearson

28 Marlena Maduro Baraf

29 Michael Broder

30 Amelia Ross

31 Sebastian Matthews

32 Carmen Bardeguez-Brown

34 Linda Hillman Chayes

35 Aaron Smith

36 Theresa Burns

37 Joan Cappello

38 Rick Hilles

40 Michele Karas

41 Patricia J. Barnett

42 Roger Mitchell

44 Marion Brown

45 Jennifer Franklin

46 Renée Christine Ehle

47 Cassie Pruyn

48 Mindy Gill

49 Bonnie Jill Emanuel

50 Michelle Yasmine Valladares

52 Pamela Hart

53 Paolo Javier

55 Sheila Rabinowitch

56 Sherry Stuart-Berman

57 Martha Rhodes

58 Katherine Harris

59 Matthew Thorburn

60 Mary Ellen Pelzer

61 Curtis Bauer

62 Daniel Lawless

63 Sarah Van Arsdale

65 Joanna D. Brown

66 Ron Slate

68 Kay L. Cook

69 Patricia Spears Jones

71 Neil Shepard

72 Kaye McDonough

74 Elaine Sexton

75 Ruth Danon



Special Issue: Poetry of the Pandemic

All the poems in this issue are new. We solicited work with no stated

theme. In some cases, timeliness took precedence over polish in order

to shape a true documentary of this time of necessary protest and

necessary (when possible) self-isolation.

These poems may be read in any order, but the order of appearance

follows a timeline of the rapidly changing world from March to early

July, 2020. The majority of the poems, as well as the cover image,

were made in April and May. The impact of the killing of George Floyd

at the hands of police in Minneapolis, MN, which subsequently led to

worldwide protests, was just beginning to be felt at the time of our

original deadline in June.

We thank our contributors, writers and makers living or sheltering

in place all over the U.S., from Maine to Tennessee, New Jersey to

Florida, North Carolina to San Francisco and New York; and abroad,

from Thailand, Australia, Canada, Vietnam, and France. Personally, I’d

like to thank my two co-editors, the poets Jennifer Stewart Miller and

Joan Cappello, who joined me in every aspect of editing and handling

this issue. The logo and thoughtful design of 2 Horatio, from its

inception, is by John Kramer, my friend and collaborator. I thank him,

once again, for making a graceful space for poetry here.

Elaine Sexton

New York City



Jessica Greenbaum

Going for a Run Without My Glasses

because they fog up with the mask on

so I thought I would try it and I started in the park

on the early, rainy side of spring, the light green trees

like a tune that was going to get louder, with added bass

by June, and the crabapple and cherry blossoms

like lacey colored clouds fallen over some branches

and the next time around I thought they were held up

by the branches, and after a squint I realized

that the blue patches on the ground were only dropped

gloves even though I’d pass a trash can the next

moment but I liked seeing the whole park as a moving

composition, as if in CAD/CAM as I jogged around it

and on the dark morning someone walked by with a yellow

briefcase and they might have been a wandering

tulip and for a split second where to, I wondered?

7


Scott Hightower

This Artless Virus

This artless virus doesn’t have

existential dread

in times of uncertainty

like I do. This virus doesn’t have

legs, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t have

skin, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t have

hands, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t have

eyes, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t have

lungs, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t have

life, it wants mine.

This virus doesn’t compose

songs. This virus doesn’t have

imagination, wonder

and bewilderment

like I do. This virus

doesn’t have a reckless

heart, it wants mine.

8


Myronn Hardy

Ode to a Gray Sofa

From where I stare ceiling cracks.

Then the azure cracks of sky so many

cirrus clouds moving. Your wool

makes me itch or is it my lewd linger?

Always here my back here.

Blue duvet over me you.

Empty peanut butter cookie sleeves over me

Pretzel crumbs I’m watching

too many terrible movies.

We are in a terrible movie documentary.

Dire leadership the world abhors us.

We are being led to die.

Cores of pears stones of nectarines

strewn before your woody feet.

This is what I offer.

Forgive me for being who I am now.

My skin graying from lack of green

vegetables motionlessness fear a

feeling of giving up.

Even though you keep me

from the floor I am not grateful.

I am ashamed for being ungrateful

in your peppy grayness.

But the woe of now weakens me.

I am weak in the strength

of your steadiness.

you.

9


Maja Lukic

Fort Greene

this is a bare side street with

a suspicious broken up sky

the neighborhood by turns too dark

and too lit

neon miasma, black trees, blue air

people stare out of their windows

down the avenue

all my neighbors in their containers wait

all the faces are still there

but rearranged in fear

it’s been years since I’ve recognized terror

it was cold last night on the park bench

when a friend and I stepped out with

bicycles and cans of Pinot Noir

we tried to map out the new year of curfews and vaccines

(how long will I have to be alone?)

a week, a month, two or more; it eats, it grows

it is time it were time, Celan said

it is time

in quarantine

I only ever move through time but not space

the rotating planetary days

the light cutting a path through the windows

over the ceiling, skimming the blanket

where I miss an old lover

I take my place by the window

watch the street

precarious

10


no one comes by so I water the plants

and read Eliot—

I can connect / nothing with nothing

I would sleep but sleep has dried away

and only a fugue state of powders and pills

brings not rest but a greater stillness

life now—sequenced stillnesses

and silences

discernible only to the one who hardly ever moves

except for walks in the park where

I hear a little boy complain to his parents about a fence:

why did they even put a fence there?

it separates nothing from nothing

me and the street I don’t enter

11


Peter Covino

Forest green slick-headed mallard with choker

and consort

We swallowed the light’s comeuppance

and laid a hammock in the woods.

We peeked beneath dirt’s hooded shirt

and left the masks to rot and plastic

degrade. Occasionally cars sped by

on soundless invisible tracks redoubling

our ears. We beheld beholden birds

slicing the air, a great blue heron returned

to the city park. Two mallards resting

aplomb. I wasn’t expecting much just

a walk and wave from a fellow dogwalker

a beaver, an otter, a groundhog on the path.

12


Jennifer Stewart Miller

Two Dream Weddings

Featuring

Personal Protective Equipment

and New Pantone Colors

For L. & B.

No. 1

Providence, RI — Walking down the aisle at

R.I. Hospital’s exclusive employee parking

lot, the bride, an ER resident, was radiant

in her N95-white gown hand-stitched from

surgical drape sheets. She wore a contrasting

medical-blue mask and matching disposable

gloves and booties. While the tall, dark, and

handsomely-masked groom couldn’t really

kiss the bride, you could still see the joy in

his and her eyes.

No. 2

Waitsfield, VT — The sky was medical-mask

blue, dotted with a few N95-white clouds

floating serenely by, as the happy bride and

groom stood on the scrub-green lawn under

viral-orange maple trees, and—with a few

casually-tuxedoed cows in the adjacent pasture

as witnesses—exchanged their vows—in

sickness and in health, until death do us

part—love, as usual, the only PPE.

13


Jason Schneiderman

At my drink-drunk-drunketty-unkest

I lay down in the road to see the stars

more clearly. I laughed a tequila shot

through my nose onto a man trying

to pick me up at a club. I decided I had

to translate Akhmatova at that very moment,

and woke up my host family by searching loudly

for her collected works. I threw up

in someone’s bed, again through my nose,

which may be a theme in my drunkenness.

I called my friend’s green card marriage

a green card marriage for the entirety

of a party, despite her insistence

that her gay husband was her husband

and that her family was not a ploy

or a trick or a legal fiction. Each time I stopped

drinking so heavily, for a year, two years,

three years, and I’m not admitting

to much here, a handful of stories across

two decades, the moments I thought

I ought to drink a bit less, and yet it bears

saying that every weepy drunk considers

himself a kind drunk; every mean drunk

considers himself an honest drunk,

and every handsy drunk considers himself

a flirty drunk. And is it so terrible, the joys

and regrets of drunkenness, if they’re just

a one off, if they don’t become a habit,

if we can disappear and come back?

I’m not sorry I saw the stars from

that gutter, though my sober sympathies lie

with the sober driver who was furious

that I had almost made him a murderer.

What I remember best is those stars,

and how they were as beautiful as any stars

could be and how much they meant to me

with my inhibitions stripped, and how well

I can still see them now.

14


M.C. Bolster

One Tooth

My rogue tooth

falls out of place

every three days.

Like clockwork.

Tricky to salvage

as it drops,

a giant pebble

mixing with bits of oatmeal

swirling in cold Corona

slipping out with no warning

as I listen to Adele’s swoon—

endless love in the arms

of a chiseled cowboy.

My rogue tooth is fake—

a thousand-dollar fake,

clone of a tooth,

a stand-in for missing molars

lost to age and Hershey bars.

Jarred loose from my jaw

just as the world shut down.

15


Sean Singer

Schism

Today in the taxi a passenger got in and she was crying. I don’t

know why. We left Astoria for Williamsburg. I gave her a little

package of tissues and she went on her way.

Kafka said crying is especially alarming for me. I cannot cry. When

other people cry, it seems to me like a strange, incomprehensible

natural phenomenon.

I thought maybe she was going through a breakup, or perhaps it

was a passage in a novel.

Some people think of Williamsburg as the “hipster apocalypse”

and others, the Orthodox, know the Lord is there with them.

She’s pushing a shopping cart full of plastic bottles rescued from

trash cans.

Crying literally means “to ask for loudly.” She mumbles through a

drop of saltwater, but She’s really saying: You are worthy of asking

and having your question heard.

16


David Groff

Essential Workers

The boy at the window opposite leans out

with his mother at 7 p.m. to bang a pot

for nurses and doctors whose risk he doesn’t get,

his percussion like gunshots on the wall

of our brick forts. He’s loud as he can be, the boy

squirming in his dollhouse quarantine.

He’s grinning, maybe thinking our applause

is his, that he’s the engine and the wheel,

all the coiled city jangling at his toy.

What grace to be and know too little. If only I

could be a boy again, could call up ghosts

a shriek would send to bed, could find

some joy in noise, could sleep without

the fever of my fear, could clutch a hand.

17


Frances Richey

March 2020

Dead leaves hop on dry

tips down vacant city streets—

alien insects.

Warning to the Sea Turtle in Oman

Laying Her Eggs in the Moonlight

For your hatchlings those

construction lights on shore can

be false moons that kill.

18


Joanne Proulx

Simple Math

my phone rings

my daughter is calling from

the park behind our building

“come down” she says “the ice is perfect”

at night we break quarantine and

escape our glassy nest

in the daylight hours we call our mothers

our friends in France, our sons and sisters

just to hear them say I’m having soup for dinner

or today I saw a beautiful grey rabbit in the yard

their voices—how could we have forgotten?

fools to believe comments pecked onto screens

offered the same sort of miracle

in 20 point, all caps red, the sign in the hall

instructs us to let the elevator pass if

someone is already inside

yet for days the doors have opened onto

spot-lit emptiness, gleaming brass handrails and

a whiff of lemon-scented ammonia

if each story of a high-rise is 12 feet

in height and a family of three lives on the 11th

floor how far is their fall back to earth

simple math for complex times

we’re all homeschoolers now

studying exponential growth curves

the behavior of skittish mammals in fresh captivity

the force required to ventilate a drowning lung or

dash the hardest heart open into kindness

I descend ____ feet to the lobby

outside the world empty as the elevator

the moon subbing in for the sun

19


a digger of dirt I want to press my sterile

hands to every surface

French kiss the light post

dosey doe with the willow

bathe in the thawing canal

my daughter waits in the park

by a puddle skimmed with spring ice

we thrill at the give

the toes of our boots pressed to its surface

her hand casually resting on my shoulder

we offer up the full weight of our bodies

teasing our luck, shrieking as it cracks

we are all wet-footed fledglings now

praying that the ice will hold us

20


Marilyn Mazur

this week

my spade forages spring ramps in the woods

we barbecue salmon, the patio white with snow

zoom, zoom, zoom—social distancing all day

I edit my grandson’s mandrill monkey poem

with tears, I sort old photos of my late sister

a zoom seder—a zeder—commingles us

I hum Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as I swab kitchen counters

my daughter will intubate infected patients tonight

a snowy ski trail snakes up the bare slope

the still-brown mountain boasts a line of green pine trees

Banded Galloway cows loll in my neighbor’s field

cloud shadows sit on the distant mountain

a dozen red robins dig worms in my front lawn

the rain leaves teardrops on the window

a sheriff’s car drives down the road twice daily

it will feel like Pearl Harbor this week

Sam Cooke croons Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep

we chant ancient prayers, murmurs that balm

my truck—with Vermont plates—jostles over a bump

here’s your order. thank you—I pick up groceries curbside

the chickadees sing: excuse me, excuse me, excuse me

what to do about the chirping bird’s nest in the fireplace?

21


Denton Loving

April 10, 2020

John Prine died this week from the virus, and fifty-thousand others

around the world. My mom turned 75. Instead of birthday cake

and a party, three rabbits jumped and chased each other in circles

around her house. Every state was a self-declared disaster, but not

everyone’s isolation was the same. Those of us with too much time

on our hands cleaned out garages, basements, storage sheds. Our

dumpsters overflowed with dry-rotted clothes, broken-down kitchen

gadgets, back issues of National Geographic. From my barn loft, I

rescued a box of my old toy cars. My favorite: a blue Tonka twoseater—missing

its back wheels, another sign to shelter in place.

The super moon—perfect light for stalking prey—called my cat to

action. At 4 a.m. I let her outside. I could see far into the fields where

the cattle glowed like ghosts.

22


James Brasfield

Out Here

Hour upon hour the stillness

of boulders on the beach

and the tall trees on the bank,

one a birch, its buds fattening . . .

now, suddenly, the wind-wavering

saplings, the waving branches

and leaves: such patience,

until the sound of it all—

an unmindful diligence

moves the second hand.

23


Maya Mahmud

Untitled Truisms

You don’t have to answer

anyone’s questions.

Good things happen

when people are allowed

to make up new words.

It requires skill to observe

your surroundings

without naming any objects.

The same skill

can be used to observe

your peers,

without psychoanalyzing them.

Say everything

with a modicum

of uncertainty

and watch your life

dissolve like sugar

on your tongue.

Without a watch

you’re practically

the same person

only less controlled.

Don’t expect your friends

to always excite you.

The trick is to keep eye contact,

even through a computer screen.

Long-term relationships

keep you accountable

to your patterns,

making it complicated when

you’d like to dispel

past iterations of character.

Love is a long stare.

24


If you’re unsure about

what you believe,

observe the way

your body reacts

when you lie.

Sunlight is less intense

with one eye closed.

You are charming

when you ask

appropriate questions.

If you remember

you are breathing

more becomes possible.

When you think erratically,

a kind of religion is born

in you.

Wearing a face mask

keeps you safe from illness but,

makes lipstick obsolete.

Small insects have a sharp bite.

Spreading homophobia

is like pouring bleach

in everyone’s drinking water.

Be aware of your silences.

25


Julio César Paz González

love lust

he wanted me to write a love poem

but if we don’t love each other’s shit;

the daily struggle with the stained seat,

the wine-injected gaze, the guts, folding

cheap toilet paper into daisies, the smoke

coming out of my lips when I think I love

then what’s left? for now, this will suffice

26


Jane Wallace Pearson

April 2020

Sunday

Daffodils don’t care.

Impassive on the sill

above the sink,

their yellow-deckled edges

remind you of all the letters

you never had time to write

and now you do.

Monday

I expect no one to be impressed

by my private economies,

how I dress;

I wear only one sweater;

eat the last small piece of cheese;

usher a fly

out the back door to please

no one.

God maybe.

Tuesday

[“Whose woods these are….”]

A young stranger came to our door today,

wondering.

I shook his hand, forgetting,

and said I didn’t know.

As he walked away

I was arrested

by the seat of his pants,

stained with fingers of oil and dust, sagging flat as an open palm,

gray-green of dying grass.

27


Marlena Maduro Baraf

Farrow and Ball, “White Tie”

Paper white with a hint of yellow and a minor complication of

brown to bind it to earth. Used often for trim on houses, it takes

on a supporting role to vibrant hues and complex muted ones.

The Phalaenopsis white orchid, sturdy and bold, anchors the

sideboards in New York City model apartments with views of

the river. The coarse petals and sepals are shot with sparkles

like stardust. If you look at the underside you will see a blush of

mauve or pink and faint transparencies of the green of their bud

birth.

Daniel picks the white star studded orchid for the drama, the size

of the gesture that says I love big. I love you with flair. I am a good

guy. He loads the love with variegated purple varieties, blossoms

articulated with symmetrical fuchsia fingers and bloody throat.

What is the underside of a giant nautilus shell? Is it the flaky,

chalky exterior drying in the sun? Or the glossy intermittently

reflective pink of its mouth? Even the underbelly of a weathered

cement pot bleaches from grey to almost white on the inside

belly next to the old soil.

The years drip off my fingernails. We churn and become the

underside. And the other side, bold and transparent, supporting

and dominant.

28


Michael Broder

First Thing in the Morning of April 13, 2020

You sip your coffee. You take your meds. You

feed your kitties. You check your email, your social media.

You used to get straight to coffee and your poem.

Now you are far more distracted. Now before you

write your poem, you check the headlines. Cannot

start your day without knowing yesterday’s death

toll, if a new clinical trial started treating patients with an

experimental drug. You anticipate the governor’s

daily press briefing, live streamed on Facebook

or watched later if you miss it. It’s your Mr. Rogers.

It’s your fireside chat. One of your backyard feral

cats looked sickly, and then stood off and looked

at dinner but did not eat, and then just did not come

back—you assume he’s dead; that’s how they do it;

you’ve seen it before. And it has nothing to do

with the pandemic, and yet it seems to—

everything that happens during this time—

a new TV show you start watching, a book you read

for a few minutes at bedtime before your Ambien

kicks in—everything seems to be Covid-19 edition,

everything seems connected to the—you like the

term “health crisis,” which nobody seems to use.

That’s what they called AIDS—the health crisis.

Then you were marginalized and the federal government

dismissed your plight. Now you have marriage rights

and characters in TV shows, movies, and stage plays—

and the federal government fucks everyone else

right along with you. Plus ça change.

29


Amelia Ross

Workers

She would have been a copyist in the 19th century,

if a woman were lucky enough to get a job.

Skilled with words, hired because she was bright,

pretty, though not enough to stand out. She learned to save,

some years did not take a vacation, always

paid for her own health insurance. Not a woman of

independent means, she never knew if she were

better off alone.

His unemployment insurance ran out.

Congress recessed without passing the promised extension.

Now a discouraged worker, no longer

counted in unemployment figures.

Highly educated. He sold for his boss, managed

clients, understood knotty business problems.

Everyday approached the search with an attitude.

Sold himself, sent emails with good cover letters and resumes.

Paid the rent with his savings.

30


Sebastian Matthews

Dusk in the Pandemic

It’s late in the algebra of the day,

dogs on their sides; I’m trying

to solve for the color blue

as the world crashes to the ground

in a heap of steel and plastic.

Join me for a drink? A walk?

Carry me through a song

that carries in it an antidote for fear.

Let’s sit a while and contemplate

the simple truths: tea tannins, piano

solo, dog fart. What I’m looking for

is an angle of light, a chill breeze

shot through the body

straight into my criminal heart.

31


Carmen Bardeguez-Brown

Timbales Maracas y Trompetas

Ave Maria

AyBendito

Beauty is in the

Eyes

of the beholder.

Suénalo

Suénalo

Laugh with your eyes open.

Candela

Candela

Pelo Malo

Acuérdate que camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Estudia

Estudia

Estudia

Preparate para que nunca tengas que depender de nadie.

Suénalo

Suénalo

Y qué se cree esa prieta

Goya Beans

Candela

Candela

Pelo malo

You only live once.

La vida es para vivirla.

You are pretty for your kind.

Candela

Candela

Pelo malo

Flatten the curve.

Death rate

Wear a mask.

Ave Maria

Ay Bendito

Candela

Candela

Pelo malo

I can’t breathe.

32


Another black man killed by the police.

Intubation

Incarceration

Acuérdate que camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Candela

Candela

Pelo malo

The zip codes

the zip codes

the zip codes.

33


Linda Hillman Chayes

When the world

and breath are braking,

is there any sleep to be had?

With time in play, did we speak

the day before or the day after?

When will I love air?

Isn’t it enough that childhood ghosts

steal my voice?

When company arrives uninvited,

what words can be spoken?

When a word escapes me, why do all

its sidekicks knock around my brain, bickering?

Will longing, boxed, combust?

Can you reach into Zoom and grab

your child from an adjacent square?

34


Aaron Smith

Unneeded

After the storm, the wet trees, hazy sky

and I remember when I was young

in West Virginia, leaving into a life

I believed I would be happy in.

And the humid air. And bird noise. Then nobody

I loved had died yet. My mother

hadn’t sobbed into a phone.

I hadn’t been alone yet, unneeded

the same way I needed. A man

hadn’t given me flowers

in a brown paper bag.

35


Theresa Burns

Habituel

It was opera out there—

it had been raining all day—

the trees were slaying

the clouds and stealing their mists.

I rushed to get you

to walk with me through the beast

of it, but you refused

my overtures, learned further

into our usual.

I cursed you, set out on my own,

returned twenty minutes later,

fiery eyed and still

hungry. You missed the double rainbow,

I howled, on my way

to set the table.

Not till dinner was finished,

the plates and glasses racked,

did you show me the picture you caught

on your phone.

Twin arcs high above the houses

one red-edged, inflamed,

the other already fading.

36


Joan Cappello

the sum of his worth

every night we skype

and he tells me things

like how i weigh too much

to be an actress

and that smell has no words

and the long story of how

donna rocco’s nose

came to be tipped

ever so slightly to the right

“it has to do with storage space”

he yells over the sound of

loneliness bouncing off our walls

launching him into a dissertation

on the seven levels of silence

until my sky goes black

with waiting

and he smiles

then takes a sip from

the trick glass

i once bought him as a souvenir

37


Rick Hilles

Lockdown Haiku

Binge-watched Tiger King.

Like being nibbled to death

Slowly by goldfish!

Ate a banana.

Ate another banana.

Feel about the same.

“Social Distancing”:

Been practicing it? Yes. Thanks!

(Since I left the womb!!)

Nursing a dry cough

From a noose to an ascot.

(Thank God it’s asthma!)

Third time this morning:

Caught a wasp in a tall glass

Then took it outside.

As if it needed

Me to say: Don’t drag your legs!

Pollinate!! (It’s Spring!)

Back to Tiger King:

If I don’t cut my hair soon,

Call me MULLET King.

Spring, how you taunt me!

Even my yard’s green lushness

Dares me to mow it.

For the longest time

I waited to cut the grass.

(The grape hyacinths!)

Now the lawn is mowed.

(Did it with a push mower!)

It made a toy sound.

Checking out the yard

After last night’s frost. The peach

Tree’s fruit: soft, so cold!

After last night’s frost

The banana trees’ green leaves:

Fists of brown leather.

The lavender bush

Returned with such a vengeance!

Bees study its ways.

They have left their fears

Inside with me, as they get

Back to their real work.

Speaking of real work,

I need to come clean, the way

Flowers are Earth’s dreams.

Last day at the lake

Before all State Parks closed, saw

The great blue heron

Landing on a log,

A fallen tree covered in

Turtles. (So many!)

I stood in shadows,

Watching the ordinary

Miracle progress.

38


Then heard a bright voice

From behind: charming, witty.

(Could it be?!?!) Hassaan!

With Becca and Yi!

Those darling people, giggling

So contagiously!

How much I wanted

To embrace them all then when

The terrible thought

Filled me completely:

What if I had the virus

And gave it to them?

(Asymptomatic

Typhoid Marys I’ve heard still

Spread the contagion!)

Of course the thought cuts

Both ways: and I am older.

Even more at risk!

Like the turtles there

I froze. Fell silent. Vanished.

The most loving thing

I could do, I thought.

To stand with them like turtles

Before the heron

Not disturbing their

Loveliness, or anything

Else at Radnor Lake.

The thought pains me still.

Then, looking at my yard now,

All the waking things:

The peach tree, waking

Up with the banana trees,

And the fig’s first leaves….

For now, let’s embrace

In the scents of lavender

And crushed rosemary!

Dreams For Our Future:

The lights turn on in all rooms

Of a great white house.

Crumbling to the seas

All mountains that were dung-hills.

Safe now to embrace.

39


Michele Karas

Elegy for a Fallen Grosbeak

In the road

a smear of black and white

and poppy-red.

Has the sky dropped a handkerchief?

How easy it is, I think, to slip

a thing so exquisite from a fixed place

and care so little as not

to retrieve it.

It troubles me

enough to circle back.

When I approach the torn

corner of silk, it does not startle

to reanimate.

Nor, when I kneel to scoop it up,

does the bundle of bone

and feather—no heavier

than a garlic bulb—

cease its cooling in my palm.

The tiny mechanisms

that are his talons

ringlet around an invisible high wire,

inducing vertigo,

and suddenly I too am tumbling

flightless in a hailstorm.

If the earth is a magnet,

so is everything in it—

all of us resisting, and failing to resist, the pull

of each other or something else.

Tell me, what leaves with the Living

when the Living change form?

40


Patricia J. Barnett

Passing Time

Sky’s mask rises, falls.

Is it dawn or is it dusk?

Does it matter? Yes.

41


Roger Mitchell

The Silence

All around us forgotten knowledge stirs.

My father almost never mentioned his,

whom I discovered died of typhus

in the great epidemic of 1918,

a man who was mentioned only as he

who died of cirrhosis of the liver,

who wanted to be like his father,

a doctor, who wouldn’t allow it.

Too hard a life in the days of horses

and buggies. Calls for help at any hour.

Dead at forty and later buried

where his father was the following year.

Who may have given his son the disease

that killed him, working to save a few

of the tens of thousands bringing death

back from France. Then died of it himself.

Or of grief at having killed his son’s wish,

and then his son, the man whose jacket hangs

in my closet, a white flannel sport coat,

“1901” blazoned across it in red,

who it was said became an engineer,

and someone his son rarely mentioned.

In the last census he answered

he called himself a salesman. Of what

he didn’t say, perhaps wasn’t asked.

Last fall, on a visit from my cousin,

42


she told me years ago her mother,

his daughter, told her she heard,

at eight, quarantined with him,

his last choked breaths,

heard the rattle, when the mouth

can’t swallow its own saliva.

That would have been enough for me

never to mention, never to want to,

had I been there. As, for some reason,

I want to imagine my father was.

How full silence must be,

that so little is remembered.

43


Marion Brown

Tarot

In the hollow of the crescent

moon, a vagrant cloud—

my grandmother’s hand stirs

the pot, the ring finger missing

its tip. I do not credit signs,

but even a blunt finger points.

Oma, the sorceress, bargaining

for roots, borrowing

from an empty purse,

reading the wheel of fortune,

comes back at night to stir

the silver cup where I never drink

or turn over the cards.

What good is money? Fretting about a ruptured supply chain, I

smile at gaps on a pantry shelf among stolid cans of tomatoes

and tuna—my sliver of self-denial. I channel Oma, who scraped

through two world wars in Berlin. Turning off lights to save, she

sometimes told my brother and me, “Amerikaner sind glücklich.”

Americans are hungry, not lucky. Unemployment soars to its

worst level since the Depression. I scan the NY Times. On the

front page, the President brags about cutting SNAP—food for

hungry kids.

44


Jennifer Franklin

Memento Mori: Pompeii

In my favorite fresco, a skull hovers over

a speckled blue butterfly and wooden wheel—

soul versus fortune. Ancient citizens near Vesuvius

gazed at the same sunken eye sockets—

unprepared for disaster as they drank wine

and dined with cutlery top-heavy with silver skulls.

Two years ago, I was one of thousands to walk these ruins.

Now the poppies of Pompeii are untrampled during our plague.

We wait while politicians and scientists decide when

we can return outside without endangering ourselves

and others. On Hart Island, workers in hazmat suits dig

mass graves. According to archeologists, humankind’s

most lasting contribution to earth will be the endless stash

of chicken bones we buried in the soft soil.

45


Renée Christine Ehle

but i like to be alone

but alone i am being

numb being

like a lone

wart on my own

finger neither

pain(ful) nor (un)known

but quiet is a peace

but just a piece

of me pierced

to be a kind of hole

bored and narrow

bare(ly)

holy

but streets are clean

but a blossom dropped

a pink cherry blossom

on blank concrete

spring springing

(un)seen and (un)seized

dropped and passing

but nature is noticed now

but the pale raccoon

waddles in the light

before the evening

and in the morning out

of its normal

nightness

but on this ordinal day

the void returns

and undoes creation

46


Cassie Pruyn

To the Tree in the Field

Giant broccoli floret, yellow trapped in green, fabric filled with

holes, living lace, ruffly riot, wind whipping up chunks of you in

disparate directions, New England tree—you’re here when I’m

not. When I was elsewhere, you grew buds on your bare branches.

Your leaves shivered out like mold, wrinkly and compressed.

You stretched them skyward and you sent them inward, leaves

fluttering into shady nooks, and now you fill up the edge of this

field and yellow infuses itself in your felt in order to get to be

here, as you, in your corner. When will I get to live in your corner,

when will the wind take me up and jostle me quiet?

47


Mindy Gill

The Overnight Train

On the overnight train you do not sleep.

Steel trolleys gimbal down the hallway,

and the English couple bunked below

sink cold cans of beer, hiding

their jealousies badly. That month,

so many rooms by the sea. Green coconuts,

and sweetness. Silence on the balconies.

Now a small window, two dim reading

lights. Tomorrow, a mountain house

above the paddies, where we will sit

and watch the stars ice over, our hands

touching occasionally, having not yet

come to the end. The town lights flaring out.

Young muscular dogs prowling the streets.

48


Bonnie Jill Emanuel

O

The shimmer of the wind

gliding across the land with dandelion

seeds, flax-yellow florets

under dead or blinking traffic lights

running, running down 9th Ave.

Shepherd’s Purse, amaranth,

clack of rats on the fire escape.

Zoom me—

the sun on your tongue.

I’ll whisper a blue glitter field

to my screen,

it will zoom

right back to you.

O Desolate City.

O Bloom.

49


Michelle Yasmine Valladares

blessings

blessed is the father who sat my brother and I down, warned

us of how we might be treated after immigration. to anticipate

the names called behind our backs or to our faces, the jokes and

slander at our expense. he spoke from experience of growing up

Catholic in Bombay. he recalled driving with my mother across

the southern states in 1968, remembered motels with vacancies

and diners with tables that refused them. he jabbed his cigarette

into the air like a weapon—“whatever they say, they are wrong.

remember they are ignorant and idiots.”

blessed is the mother who fought for another table in her loud,

Indian, accented voice, each time we entered a restaurant. at

thirteen, I cringed and wished for invisibility. wasn’t this the local

tradition in Scottsdale when you were new in town—to seat a

family of four by the toilets. racism, discrimination, injustice were

words I learned at home, not at school, not in mixed company,

never in public.

blessed are the parents who drove us out of Marblehead the

night the cousin who shouted at me to get my “black arse out of

his father’s car,” decided to beat up my uncle. we stopped first in

church so my mother could stop crying and then in a bookstore so

she could buy the Best Public Schools on the East Coast.

blessed is the teacher in Cold Spring Harbor, who intervenes

when the white boy asks if our school is segregated, as if my

brother and I are invisible.

blessed is my best friend’s mother who takes me to my first

march at ten for disabled children in Kuwait and my second

march at nineteen for racial justice on Martin Luther King’s Day

in Washington DC.

blessed are African Americans whose time for real justice arrives,

arrives, and arrives. blessed are the activists, the essential

workers sacrificing themselves on the front lines for BLACK LIVES

MATTER.

50


blessed are the Buddhist teachers who emphasize lovingkindness

as the one-word solution to our anger and hate. our minds of

delusions are the real enemy. living beings are our mothers. these

are koans to meditate on day and night.

blessed are the friends and family who connect in a strange

summer of quarantine. all of us know someone dead of Covid-19.

all of us hunkered down, isolated in our epicenters. we share

stories to reinvent ourselves, transform like acorns and wildflower

seeds into trees and fields of golden poppies.

blessed is the inexpensive and colorful one hundred percent

cotton bandanna that workers have used throughout the ages.

blessed are the brown, Latinx, Black, white, Muslim, mixed

race and bodies of every gender on Rockaway Beach, when the

thresher shark is rescued off the jetty’s rocks. one man lifts its

tail and the other its bleeding belly. and we all clap as the shark

swims out to sea … though it will die hours later on the sand. still

hope for the first time in weeks is resurrected because strangers

collectively cheer for the life of the living being that scares us.

51


Pamela Hart

Carapace Pantoum

Water worn by sand I collect creatures

shelter diatom, fungi, sponge

wander while molting, my coat slipping off shore.

More scorpion than shell, I house waves

hold diatom and sponge

ocean washing my arthropodic structure

that wanders while molting, slipping

off shore, body become building.

I, washing ocean over such structure,

telson night, ruddering

even bodies which build offshore

their foam alive to flatworm fossil.

When my telson rudders the night

I coagulate while in-sheltering

foaming, alive to flatworm

tern skim displaced by wind

my shelter a coagulation

of water-worn creatures together

tern skim displaced by wind

I molt then slip off shore.

52


Paolo Javier

Moonbird Moonbird

1

the end of the world is an island

land of fire

“Hey Moonbird, moonbird” at the end of the world

What do you ask of me? Soothsaying?

2

sing in veneration of lost city eyes, bleak

in the process of knowing tonsils thundering

One form of that life a sinister way

Beyond your ability to change & to steward

Managed retreat you’ll need a moonshot

3

Ever been this far from home?

night before sleep in Ushuiaia

yanking spat from restinga shelves

sustenance for enduring strangle

a shrinking migrant

4

A spring tide, rollicking-and-rolling

Bronzed & swooning

snap into whip formation

cleave air

Under moon, ripped & gorging aminos

do yr best to concentrate on feeding

Green eating profiteering, fat birds fly faster than thin

53


5

measurement is what you concocted

Enormity catastrophe finality

unable to fathom

Here is a past lodestar empire

Managed retreat will need a

moonshot

6

secret knowledge of the sea

who deems your inoculation

Safe

As we become them mass death seeking water

Wall of anguish you’ll add to the equator

Moonbird feels newly molted

No gaps for wind to pass through

7

Will you return to this beach?

holdfast

over eons each sea grows bitter with continent

song guarding torrents of embankments drowned

all sons daughters of

catastrophe

54


Sheila Rabinowitch

Night Swim

Once I swam naked

in the Mediterranean.

In this aged body

I am too shy.

Sometimes at night I sneak out

from my Catskill retreat,

slide into the cool lake.

Neighbors can’t see me

in the dark.

As weeds tug my feet

I kick past

their tangling strands

pulling me under.

No one sees my crow’s feet

or sagging skin.

I turn on my back,

follow the moon—

55


Sherry Stuart-Berman

My son throws me a line

but it’s his green, can I steal it?

He’s 12, says he doesn’t understand

my poems, says, they’re like

this: grass,

magnified by the eyes

of the earth.

“My tree,” “my sea,” “my sky,”

his first words back then

and wow, this planet,

some promise we make, huh?

Like broken microscopes

we fail to magnify god.

When my son and I fight

my face bolts—

tongue storming fast behind—

and iris open, he’ll stop,

adjust focus, condense light

into lens. Just like that.

I go off my meds.

In front of my eyes

black spots float.

It’s 3 a.m. and here’s

where I’m small.

That bald patch

in our yard never seems

to grow, airless

dirt packed tight.

56


Martha Rhodes

Out of Sorts Rondeau

What’s in the air, what’s stalking me

that wasn’t there, until at 3,

just as the wind picked up that barn

and settled it onto another’s farm—

or did I dream this malevolency—

Admittedly, I’m out of sorts, and all this week

I’ve wanted to lash out at those who speak

as if there’s nothing—Don’t be alarmed.

It’s a gentle day, you won’t be harmed—

it’s in your mind, you’ve never been happy—

Those who know nothing say that to me?

There’s an evil out there. The air’s no balm.

Stop trying to soothe me. I won’t be calmed.

A gentle day? I won’t be harmed?

57


Katherine Harris

On the Pain of Growing a Wing

The secret between us is an elegy. Holding

my palms to the grey-green window

the still-leafless branches span my life line,

my line of fate, the arboreal airways of my lungs.

A dead-wind screams beyond the glass, tossing

the trees. Maybe the howl will breathe the land

clean and revive us, like the poppy-snow of Oz.

Spring starlings have not yet arrived on their waves

of murmuration. Black opal oracles with the stars

prophesied on their wings. Answers and nestled hearts

for the end of the plague, on the pain of growing a wing.

The night-pond is solitary, a nightingale singing

to the northern lights, creating a sound circle. In a dream,

my mother’s face, eyes open, silent, mute.

— Title after artwork by June Leaf

58


Matthew Thorburn

Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Eileen

A dab of gray in the green

of that wild shrub, a catbird repeats

his cat-like mewl, bickering

with a big grackle perched above.

The grackle croaks back

then turns his purple-black head away.

I keep still, kneeling in the lilies

I meant to thin out. Quiet, quiet—

don’t want to startle them off,

can’t see the catbird now

but he’s not finished with his say.

Soon the grackle starts in again too

and I hear my great-aunts, their low

sandpapery voices echoing

in the blue kitchen, their housecoats,

in heaven. That continual back

and forth, their on and on that must

still trundle on in some eternal

morning: “Surely you will recall ….”

“Well, yes, but ….” “I suppose,

although ….” One starts, one

stops. One coughs, considers, starts

again. I’m a child looking up

from cool linoleum, until the catbird

zips off, the grackle flaps away.

59


Mary Ellen Pelzer

Pantoum Etiquette

Do not stand too sternly on his rights.

He has taken care to inform himself of all the rules.

He relies on his power of observation—

to be a Good Club Member.

He knows all the rules to which he must conform,

learned how to argue good humoredly,

to be a Good Club Member.

He must take pains.

How to argue good humoredly

with every organized body?

He takes the pain—waiting

to be spoken to first by the regular members.

Organized within his body,

he observes his power when insisting on

speaking first to the regular members, saying:

Do not stand too sternly on my rights.

Borrowed text from Holt, Emily, Encyclopaedia of Etiquette:

What to Do, What to Say, What to Write, What to Wear,

A Book of Manners for Everyday Use (1912).

60


Curtis Bauer

Dispatch I Want to Look Like Dancing

A new gift—night

rain. The morning’s

suppressed. I keep

news in my pocket.

Laughter there too.

I have just killed 99.9%

of the germs on my

hands and my fingers

could be lavender

sprigs.

Here, smell

them. Let’s wait

together and see

if we can attract bees—

my scent and your beauty.

We can pollinate.

Our singing and

[Distraction: sometimes

I jump up and down.

sometimes I lilt from

foot to foot. sometimes

that looks like dancing]

dancing will look

like plants in the breeze.

61


Daniel Lawless

Aglet

—from Definitions

A blood-letting tool, a vestigial claw.

A liturgical vestment, a kind of stitch or stenographical notation,

a vase, a fresh-born eel.

It’s fun now to imagine it could be any of these, but

In 1967 the right answer was “the little sheath at the end of a

shoelace”—

Da’s nightly vocabulary quiz, home from the Galway cab-yard,

The summer before Séan and I would try for posh Saint Tim’s.

More than fifty years but I can still see it: his pressed shirt and

flocked cap, that pipe

He claimed the Mayor himself had given him. The two of us

watching

A drop of spittle trickle the length of its lacquered stem

As he continued “… from the Old French,

Aiguille, ‘“needle’”. To point or pierce. Colloquially a small

sorrow.”

62


Sarah Van Arsdale

February, 2017, Seen from April, 2020

It was Chris’ birthday

we were crowded around the table

in the new apartment—

the one we didn’t like, and didn’t keep for long—

the dining room so small

we could barely fit six

but that night we were happy

even though it was 2017,

hardly the happiest year in the history

of our country.

It was Chris’ birthday

and everyone had arrived a little late

because the A train was running slow,

and it was snowing.

I’d roasted a chicken

and some of us were drinking wine.

We’d talked about birthdays and how

quickly it all slips past

just like our parents warned us.

I was wearing a plaid shirt

and my triple strand of pearls that I’d bought

at a vintage shop on Broadway

and that fooled no one.

I’d made a coconut cake

forgetting coconut wasn’t Chris’ favorite,

but no one minded

because it was cake

and it was Chris’ birthday.

In the photo,

we’re forever leaning toward one another,

arms wrapping shoulders,

63


the candles guttering down,

the table strewn with dishes

the transparent wine glasses glimmering

in what’s left of the low apricot light.

This was all so ordinary—

exquisitely ordinary—

64


Joanna D. Brown

Outcropping

I sit at our tiny, wrought-iron table on our porch

Over the railing, the rectangle of yard, lilacs nodding

Really, it is an inversion of a mask, this rectangle view

(Lips of grass, eyes of sky)

Open wide my nose, my mouth

Feed me air more precious than any cannula

On my street, people wear lilac masks on their faces

but cannot mimic the spring

The bougainvillea biker & his dogwood daughter

ease past timid cars

and the young chrysanthemum

straggles, tilts on her wheels, rights herself

blooms forth to catch up

The lilacs mutter like gloves in a rectangular box

empty fingers waving

Unlike the porch’s glossy, framed invitation

the gloves, the EKG machine and I must be covered

the curtains down

65


Ron Slate

Viralesque

In this world already so enshadowed and ailing, the haggard, hunted

face is encountered everywhere. The problem is not the spiny microdemons

murmuring we are coming for you. It is more about your

insistence that you deserve to be spared. But if you survive, it will

be through the usual media: shrewdness, detachment, and luck.

*

Our laments resonate effectively among the neighbors. The

first time. But a shout is a clamor when repeated through the

days. If I scream I’ll save you, you need to hear it only once.

Today someone across the street bellowed from a porch, Is this

Thursday? And the day before, Is this Thursday? I wouldn’t call

back. But I didn’t want to be alone. And also, for some minutes, I

didn’t know the answer.

*

The odds are not favorable, but there is a chance, as the grave

threat recedes, that you will stop condemning your lived life

for its fecklessness and disparaging your dreams for their facile

freedoms. Restarting the world on renovated terms, you will peel

the last apple in the bin, core it, and count the seeds.

*

Asymptomatic: striding while sick, sick while oppressing the

healthy. They’ve been here since the first time I saw the flag in

my classroom. But I did not hear their voices clearly until my own

body appeared in their sights.

*

News item, page 6: Eleven Die as Locusts Swarm in Sudan. In

the village of Wad Medani, 110 miles southeast of Khartoum,

the elders argue into the night. Some say the locusts gave off an

overpowering smell, causing asthma. Some say the weak and

aged ones, now the dead, simply imagined they couldn’t breathe.

Some say the deafening clack of wings, the thickness of sound,

choked off life.

*

66


One says, “I have a real person hiding under the personality you

know. It’s my secret self and it’s the best part of me.” The other

one says, “I’m the space between what I am and what I am not,

the space between what I dream and what life makes of me.” The

two of them, socially distanced by six feet. And then some.

*

No one is available to guide you to the exit, and if you should

manage to grope your way there, no one will be waiting on the

other side to greet you with an antidote.

*

In March, while the news arrived from across the sea, there

was a silent rupture in our city. The clock in its tower skipped

a beat, the tower sunk imperceptibly. You had an opportunity,

but you savagely refused to renounce the unlocatable source of

your values. Every street corner was begging for love, all of our

uncountable differences were asking for asylum. You said We

need cleansers and chocolate.

*

Every day at a quarter to four, the hospital orderly walks by on his

way to the hospital and the all-night Covid rounds. Green scrubs,

supper in a backpack. We stand at the window, waiting. Here he

comes, today he’s wearing his Celtics jacket as well. The night is a

long guess about the route he takes home. The next day—a vigil.

*

It was only a matter of welcoming the pandemic, exploiting it as

a pier to push off from to a mythical journey among whirlpools,

enticing islands, and beasts. A journey, like all others, ignorant

of what is at stake, abandoned to chance. We could have sailed

together. We could have shared our provisions to the very last

sardine and crawled up on the sand. A crew of survivors for the

ages, singing a sea shanty that we made up, each of us the author

of a verse.

67


Kay L. Cook

The Loss of Back to Normal

Something is happening,

as promises dislodge from our mourning

constitution

where lines have been crossed

and signed and torn at the perforation

where normal was color-coded

without consent.

Back to normal is in constant

change, tired from breathing

under pressure.

Where will I put my knick-knack normal

which I now fit neatly

in photos and boxes and plastic bins,

as I wake up in this never

back to normal? Will I ever again clink glasses filled with ice

floes melting, time-lapsing,

sans metronome, Earth rotating with axis ajar

throbbing off key?

Will different always mean violence?

Will never again ever be enough?

68


Patricia Spears Jones

The face of

a Black woman, no matter the popular myth, is at a loss.

Back in the Minstrel Show era, Mammy was easy.

Sang lullabies, rolled my eyes, rolled my hips, made

Some money. At least I was cleaning no white folks

Houses. Then some diner had a cook who made flap

jacks, dressed her up as mammy and the white folks

Loved it. Loved it. Next thing, mammy mass produced

Round face, big teeth, apron and bandana––and

jokes about me and Uncle Ben—you know we

Did not know each other. But there was I the only

Black woman on the supermarket shelves, smiling

for a few dollars. Then the people who hated

Amos and Andy and other benign stereotypes

Decided to hate me. Aunt Jemima. What did I

Do but smile, wear that bandana and sell maternal

Love for any who bought it. Why mammy figures

are in homes across America—white homes, mostly

And those Avant Garde Black people

Who collect Black Memorabilia—the stuff tossed

In the trash by so many, but these Avant Garde

People wanted to see how many ways dark skinned people

Could be made for commercial use. They. Learned. Outrage.

All those watermelons, wood piles, and aprons.

The Gold Dust Twins, so named because there was no gold or

dust.

The Black Black Memorabilia people helped

make Aunt Jemima a research project & mammy history.

Thus, Betye Saar put a rifle in Mammy’s hands.

Mammy as revolutionary, dug that so much, but

was just too much for the business angle. Mammy

got a makeover. Image change at Company decreed.

Gone bandana, apron and at least 50 pounds,

Even the box shrank back to when

Black imagery could be made for a nickel and

sold for a dime many times, many times.

69


Hidden in attics & storage units & garages across the South,

Mammy dolls sit near Southern Belles & Confederate Colonels

And other ancient symbols of the world of Lost Causes.

The Minstrel Shows; the Corporate Icon; the Demised Image.

Oh that desire for the power of mammy––that large breasted,

Ever-smiling Colored Lady come to console

All within the White House, the Whites’ houses.

Mammy in the movies.

Mammy on tv.

Mammy flickers

Mammy perches

on that precipice of desire and ridicule—

Her smile ready to wipe away any negativity

Any thought of brand dissonance—the ultimate

Myth of Reconciliation, why hate her. Now

even Oscar Winning Mammy can’t claim cable.

Nodding comprehension for this ungainly insult

by the blonde teen, who says “Aunt Jemima was cancelled”

How could this be—Aunt Jemima was freed from slavery

And worked her way into becoming the face of a pancake mix.

Just what every Black woman wants to be,

The face of a pancake mix.

70


Neil Shepard

May 4, 2020: Coronavirus Report

We inch closer to lockdown’s end,

inch toward a line where the new

normal resides, wherever that is,

as it moves through days of light

and shadow, infections rise or abate,

rise or abate, and the line’s re-drawn.

Lilacs don’t know this, their purple

clusters shamelessly luxurious, more

adventurous for having no gardener

tend them as they overhang the gate

and disperse their petals into the street,

where joggers stop, take off their masks,

and sniff memories so fresh, so remote,

they might as well come from another life.

71


Kaye McDonough

Journal Excerpts

Wed., June 10

At the televised memorial for George Floyd, a pastor

calls out to a member of his choir:

“Lorraine, take us to the Valley.”

Lorraine brings it.

Mon., June 12

CASES DEATHS

2,275,645 119,923

Some Summer Reading for the Pandemic:

Poe. “The Masque of the Red Death”

Hawthorne. “Lady Eleanore’s Mantle”

(1721-22 Boston smallpox epidemic)

Ben Jonson. “On his Son” (1603)

DeFoe. Journal of the Plague Year

DeFoe. Robinson Crusoe (on social isolation)

Edith Wharton. “Roman Fever”

Henry James. Daisy Miller

Albert Camus. The Plague

For the ambitious:

Boccaccio. The Decameron

72


Mon., July 6 at 4 p.m.

CASES DEATHS

2,914,786 131,011

Worse than the corona virus, a neighbor assures me as we run

into each other

in the condo garage, are “the looting, the violence and Marxism.”

I stay silent behind my mask. She wears none even though she

is a nurse.

Mon., July 6 at 5 p.m.

CASES

2,915,554

At Rockefeller Center

Prometheus and Atlas

wear masks.

Remembering that Death is a lagging indicator,

I’m busy making place cards for the Communion of Souls.

73


Elaine Sexton

[ride]

The most beautiful thing about a convertible is hair, and the most

beautiful thing about hair is its disposition, dead, but alive in the

skin in the air, the skin holding on to each strand for dear life, alive in

the wind. The most beautiful thing about the wind passing over the

skin is sensation, cellular, invisible, metabolic. What is metabolic is

life-sustaining, and the most life-sustaining thing I can think of today

is decency. And decency is blind, unseen, until it isn’t.

74


Ruth Danon

One More Thing to Worry About

that earth’s magnetic

field is weakening.

This will make

space travel far

more difficult.

No doubt I say. No fucking

doubt.

75


CONTRIBUTORS

MARLENA MADURO BARAF’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from

The Ekphrastic Review and On the Seawall. She is author of the memoir At the

Narrow Waist of the World and lives in White Plains, NY.

marlenamadurobaraf.com

CARMEN BARDEGUEZ-BROWNis the author of Dreaming Rhythms: Despertando

Silencios (Pandora Lobo Estepario Productions, 2015). During the pandemic, she’s

living in Chiangmai, Thailand.

PATRICIA J. BARNETT’s poems have been published in Prairie Schooner, New York

Quarterly and others, and set to music (Awilda Villarini, 1991).

CURTIS BAUER’s third collection of poems is American Selfie (Barrow Street Press,

2019). He lives in Lubbock, TX. | curtisbauer.net; IG:@ curtis.bauer

M.C. BOLSTER’s poem “Haibun: Pittsburgh” appears in 2 Horatio No. 2. She lives in

New York City. | FB: marycatherine.bolster

JAMES BRASFIELD’s third collection of poems, Cove (LSU Press), is expected to

appear in 2022. He lives in Belfast, ME.

MICHAEL BRODERis the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press,

2014), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for gay poetry. He lives in Bed-stuy,

Brooklyn, NY. | TW: @MichaelBroder; IG: @michaelbroder

JOANNA D. BROWN’s poems have appeared most recently in the online

magazines Gertrude and eclectica. She lives in Providence, RI.

MARION BROWNis the author of two chapbooks of poetry, most recently

The Morning After Summer (Finishing Line Press, 2015). She lives in Yonkers, NY.

TW: @marionsbrown1

TERRY CASTLE (cover artist) is a writer, critic, scholar at Stanford University. Her

most recent book is The Professor (Harper Collins, 2010), finalist for the National

Book Critics Circle Award. | terrycastle.com; IG: @chateauthierry.

THERESA BURNS is the author of a chapbook of poems, Two Train Town (Finishing

Line Press, 2017). She lives in South Orange, NJ. | theresaburns.org

LINDA HILLMAN CHAYES’ chapbook of poems is The Lapse (Finishing Line Press,

2014). She lives in Scarsdale, New York. | Lindaehillman@gmail.com

JOAN CAPPELLO’s chapbook of poems is why i travel alone (Finishing Line Press,

2019). She lives in Long Island City, NY. | FB: joan.cappello.50

KAY L. COOK’s poems have recently appeared in Wild Roof Journal and The Write

Launch. She lives in New York City.

PETER COVINO’s most recent collection is The Right Place to Jump (New Issues

Press, 2012). He lives in Providence, RI. | petercovino.com

RUTH DANON’s most recent book is WORD HAS IT (Nirala Publications, 2018). She

lives in the Hudson Valley. | ruthdanon.com

RENÉE CHRISTINE EHLE’s poems have recently appeared in Gyroscope Review,

Carve Magazine, and Common Ground Review. She lives in the Bronx, NY.

BONNIE JILL EMANUEL’s poems have recently appeared in American Poetry

Review and Mid-American Review. She lives in New York. | bonniejillemanuel.com

76


JENNIFER FRANKLIN’s most recent collection is No Small Gift (Four Way Books,

2018). She is the Program Director of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and lives in

New York City. | jenniferfranklinpoet.com; TW/IG: @JFranklinPoetry

MINDY GILL’s poems have recently appeared in Australian Poetry Journal and the

Institute of Modern Art (AU). She lives in Brisbane, AU. | mindygill.com

JULIO CÉSAR PAZ GONZÁLEZis the author of Lo que aprendí al otro lado del

mundo (2020). He currently lives in Hanoi, Vietnam. | jcpaz.tilda.ws

JESSICA GREENBAUM’s recent book of poems, Spilled and Gone, came

out from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2019. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

poemsincommunity.org

DAVID GROFFis the author of Clay (Trio House Press, 2013). He lives in New York

City. | davidgroff.com

MYRONN HARDY’s most recent collection of poems is Radioactive Starlings

(Princeton University Press, 2017). He lives in Maine. | myronnhardy.com

KATHERINE HARRIS’ prose “Lift to the Sun” appeared in North Salem Review:

Prose and Poetry Volume 1, (2011). She lives in Holmes, NY.

IG: @katherineharrisart

PAMELA HART is the author of Mothers Over Nangarhar, winner of the 2017

Kathyrn A. Morton Prize (Sarabande Books, 2019). She lives in North Salem, NY.

pamelahartpoet.com, TW: @PamelaHart5

SCOTT HIGHTOWERis the author of four books of poetry in the U.S. and two

bilingual (English/Spanish) collections published in Madrid. His last in the U.S. was

Self-evident. He lives in Manhattan, NY. | scotthightower.com

RICK HILLES’ most recent book of poetry is A Map of the Lost World (Pitt Poetry

Series, 2012), and he is currently working on two more books, The Empathy

Machine and The Invisible Thread. He lives in Nashville, TN.

PAOLO JAVIER’s fifth book, O.B.B., a full-length comics poem, is forthcoming

from Nightboat Books in spring 2021. He lives with his family in the unceded

territory of the Rockaway, Canarsie, and Matinecock peoples, otherwise known as

Queens County, New York City. “Moonbird Moonbird” appears in Sean Hanley’s

documentary The Whelming Sea (2020). | nightboat.org/bio/paolo-javier

PATRICIA SPEARS JONES’ fourth collection of poems is A Lucent Fire: New &

Selected Poems (White Pine Press Distinguished Poetry Series, 2015). She lives in

New York City. | psjones.com

MICHELE KARAS’ poems have most recently appeared in The Northern Virginia

Review, Mid-American Review, and Pretty Owl Poetry. She lives in Canaan, NY.

michelekaras.com

DANIEL LAWLESS’ recent collection of poems is The Gun My Sister Killed

Herself With (Salmon Poetry Press, 2018). He lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

plumepoetry@gmail.com

DENTON LOVING’s first collection of poems is Crimes Against Birds (Main

Street Rag Publishing Company, 2015). He lives near Cumberland Gap, TN.

dentonlovingblog.wordpress.com

MAJA LUKIC’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Prelude,

Salamander, RHINO, Poetry Northwest, Sugar House Review, Vinyl, and other

journals. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. | majalukic.com; TW: @majalukic113

77


MAYA MAHMUD’s poems have appeared in Frontier Poetry and Brio Literary

Journal, which also published her visual art. She lives in Crown Heights,

Brooklyn, NY. | FB: maya.amina.mahmud; IG: @lawful_chaos

SEBASTIAN MATTHEWS lives with his family in Asheville, NC. Beyond Repair:

Living in a Fractured State comes out in August 2020 from Red Hen Press.

sebastianmatthews.com

MARILYN MAZUR lives in New York City, but she has been in Vermont since the

onset of the pandemic. Her work has appeared in Verse/Virtual (online), Five Poets

& Their Poems (The New York Society Library), 2 Horatio, and Palo de Arco.

KAYE McDONOUGH’s most recent book is Pagan: Selected Poems, (New Native

Press, 2014). She lives in Branford, CT. | citylights.com/info/?fa=event&event_

id=1990

JENNIFER STEWART MILLER’s second collection is the chapbook The Strangers

Burial Ground (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020). She currently lives in Orleans, MA.

jenniferstewartmiller.com

ROGER MITCHELL’s most recent book is Reason’s Dream (Dos Madres Press,

2018). He lives in Jay, NY.

JANE WALLACE PEARSON’s poem “Doggerel” will appear in an upcoming issue of

Light Poetry Magazine. She lives in Ledyard, CT.

MARY ELLEN PELZER’s work has appeared in Intersections International, on

itscomplicated.vet, and Seaport Magazine. She lives in New York City.

TW: @maryellenpelzer; IG: @marypelzer

JOANNE PROULX’s debut novel, Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet, won Canada’s

Sunburst Award, and her sophomore novel, We All Love the Beautiful Girls, was

one of The Globe and Mail’s Best 100 Books for 2017. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

joanneproulx.com

CASSIE PRUYN is the author of Lena (Texas Tech University Press, 2017), winner

of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry. She lives in Portland, ME.

cassiepruyn.com

SHEILA RABINOWITCH’s poems have appeared in previous issues of 2 Horatio.

She lives in New York City.

MARTHA RHODES is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently The

Thin Wall (Pitt Poetry Series, 2017). She lives in New York City.

martharhodespoet.com

FRANCES RICHEY’s second collection of poems is The Warrior (Viking Penguin,

2008). She lives in New York City. | francesrichey.com

AMELIA ROSS hasn’t been published since college. She’s excited to be included in

2 Horatio. She lives in Bronxville, NY. | LinkedIn: rossamelia

JASON SCHNEIDERMAN’s fourth collection of poetry is Hold Me Tight (Red Hen

Press, 2020). He lives in Brooklyn, NY. | jasonschneiderman.net

ELAINE SEXTON’s third book of poems is Prospect/Refuge (Sheep Meadow

Press, 2015). She lives in New York City and East Marion, NY. | elainesexton.org;

IG: @elainesexton

NEIL SHEPARD’s most recent book is How It Is: Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry,

2018) He lives in Johnson, VT. | neilxshepard.com

78


SEAN SINGER’s most recent book is Honey & Smoke (Eyewear, 2015). His collection

Today in the Taxi is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. He lives in Ossining, NY.

seansingerpoetry.com

RON SLATE is the editor of On The Seawall: A Community Gallery of New Writing

& Commentary (www.ronslate.com). His most recent poetry collection is The Great

Wave (Houghton Mifflin). He lives in Aquinnah, MA.

AARON SMITH is the author of four books, most recently The Book of Daniel (Pitt

Poetry Series, 2019). He lives in Massachusetts, but during the pandemic has been

living in West Virginia. | LitAppetite.com

SHERRY STUART-BERMAN is a psychotherapist. Her poems have appeared in

journals such as Guesthouse, The Night Heron Barks, Rise Up Review, and 2 Horatio.

She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband and son.

MATTHEW THORBURN’s latest book of poems is The Grace of Distance (LSU Press,

2019). He lives in Kingston, NJ. | IG: @thorburnpoet

MICHELLE YASMINE VALLADARES is the author of Nortada, The North Wind

(Global City Press). She lives in Brooklyn, NY. | michelleyasminevalladares.com

SARAH VAN ARSDALE’s most recent book is a single narrative poem, The

Catamount (Nomadic Press, 2017). She lives in New York City and Medusa, NY.

sarahvanarsdale.com

79




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