By Cherie Flintoff
It’s tempting to say the pandemic was responsible. That it raged through the population, destroying everything in its path.
But the pandemic was more like a solid bureaucrat. A vicious bureaucrat, dishing out illness and death, but doing so without malice. Doing its job effectively, perhaps with a wry smile about those who thought it wasn’t real.
The real rage, the rage that destroyed the city?
That rage came from the people, fuelled by fear and a new tribalism. Vaxxed vs unvaxxed. Each “side” so dogged in self-righteousness they lost sight of compassion and empathy.
Rage won. Everybody else lost.
“I write to tell stories, to help me think and hopefully spark thought in others.” – the writer
By Martin Dupuis
My loneliness intensifies each week. How long has it been now? Looking out the window, all I can see is the blinding snow. All I can hear is the beat of the clock. Oh, but to listen to another heartbeat instead. All I can feel is the moisture on my cheek, yet another tear. How to hold up? Hold to hold on? There are a thousand questions to ask, but the first one is, “How can I feel lonely living in a city among three-million other souls?”
“Some things you just need to put to paper.” – the writer
By Ethan Cunningham
squirt into my hands
blanching the dirt
but seizing upon red cracks
and invisible sores
searing the nerves like
sadistic gnomes prying
them open with crowbars
and crystal salt
my brain shrieks with agony
dissolving my hands
with purifying strength
more upon more
into a silent scream
surviving only because
and then …
more quickly than it came …
it fades away
Ethan Cunningham writes “because if he doesn’t he will explode and die.”
By Archibald Hobbs
Standing in front of her mirror, Katie critically assessed her appearance. Would Marcus like what he saw?
She pursed her lips and shook her head. Returning to her bedroom, Katie rummaged through her chest of drawers before plucking the item for which she searched.
“Yes, that’s better,” Katie purred as she inspected the image in the mirror. Her pink mask was just right. Small enough to reveal her endearing dimples. Tight enough to outline the promise of her plump, kissable lips. “Okay,” Katie said whilst opening her wardrobe. “Now, which jacket matches?”
“Archie writes primarily to impress his wife, but would not object a wider audience.” – the writer
By Bruce Levine
In a time of pandemic
Holding hopes and dreams
In a bottle of formaldehyde
Waiting in line
In a duality of action
Focusing on a future
Of the unknown
While paving sidewalks
The new turf of the new normal
Embedded with the hyperbole
Of the ideologues
And the believers
As the landscape of tomorrow
Reveals a golden past
“I wrote this because I had to!” – the writer
By Marina Talmacci
Deep breath, sharp sting, the throbbing ache,
An instant to inject
And poison swirls, a writhing snake
Delivered to protect.
Inscrutable, the fate of bees,
What are we, cursed or blessed?
Inoculated, well at ease,
Existence laid to rest.
Yet water buckets need to fill
Through brambles, tears and scabs
Our thirsty blooms need tending still
By arms stung numb with jabs.
With venomed veins and bloody knees
We persevere for springtime bees.
“My friends call me ‘la poetessa obscura,’ as my words have been directed towards myself or specific people, rather than towards a broader audience. I write in two languages, English and Russian, and let the words come and settle as they are, volatile or tame, vers libre or form.” – the writer
By Paul Rousseau
Room 6, Intensive Care Unit
A rattle of tired breath passes your lips. Your heart shudders and stops. I glance at your face; your eyes are still, your pupils as big as dinner plates. My hands plunge to your chest and pump and push. Your body twitches and trembles as I struggle to resuscitate.
A door slides open. A young boy reaches for my hands, hands that were just on your chest. “Is momma okay?”
One week later I learn of a viral pandemic. You were the first to die in this small southern town.
“I write to tell the stories of those who suffer with the betrayal of their bodies.” – the writer
By Lynn White
The boardwalk is empty now,
a bridge for no one,
a bridge to nowhere
the buildings still stand
for the moment,
the sun still shines
for the moment.
But there’s no one there,
no one living
“I write to let the words escape.” – the writer
By Tyrean Martinson
We text first: Can you make it today?
The responses: Yes. Yes. No. Yes.
We type in the password, enter the room online.
It is not the same as being together. There are no warm hugs.
Instead, we wave and smile.
We share our lives, laugh together, read scriptures, ask each other questions. We dig deeper than expected. Unearth bits of wisdom, joy, tears.
These women keep me alive on the hard days. Encourage me, remind me to love and accept love, to laugh and to sing.
Prayers are lifted up.
Amen, until we meet again.
“I write because the words are there, bone deep. I write for those who take refuge in books. I write because I am a writer.” – the writer
Thank you to the ones who,
Before starting a repair,
Say, let me record this.
Thank you to the ones who
Act goofy, sing a song, and remind me,
In my fit of frustration,
To have a light heart.
But, thanks most of all
For explaining the smallest detail.
For making me feel that I am not alone
In not knowing how to fix what’s broken.
Thank you for all you’ve taught me,
For your generous impulse to share your expertise,
And for being there, a click away,
When I need you.
“During the pandemic my home has decided now is the perfect time to have an all systems breakdown … I have been tackling home improvement projects I never would’ve dreamed of trying. The generous folks on YouTube have saved the day more times than I can count.” – the writer