Posted in COVID-19/Pandemic, Essay

Dilema

Coronavirus has invaded our airspace at an incredible rate of infection using natural selection attacking the most vulnerable in our population first. Virtual prayers being sent to the heavens are asking for this demon to cease and that we be released from the clutches of this damnation plaguing our nation and the world.

Even before this pandemic as one of the coordinators of the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry I’ve often wondered how long we would be able to keep going. Sustainability is a formidable issue. I think this because we the leaders are now senior citizens, some with underlying health issues. We’ve been truly blessed because our volunteers from the community with both the soup kitchen and the pantry are able bodied men and women. We have three primary leaders left that are all seniors that make up the planning committee and now we have the monster COVID 19 that has complicated matters further. One of our senior leaders succumbed to this deadly virus. She had underlying health issues and was living in an assisted living facility when the Coronavirus reared its ugly head and pounced. We are praying virtually three times a day now to keep ourselves in God’s perfect peace that surpasses all understanding and that we will be able to stand in the face of adversity.

Part of sustainability is having resources. The foodbank gives the pantry food for the community. Our main expense with the pantry is renting a U-Haul truck once a month, and taking care of the Orkin bill (pest control). The soup kitchen is not aligned with the foodbank because of certain modifications to the building that had to be made before we could join in with them as a partner consequently the soup kitchen does not get food from them. The food sources for the soup kitchen come from Seton Hall University which is part of the network of college recovery programs that are across the country. These programs have student volunteers recover leftover food from their cafeterias and then disperse it to various feeding programs in the community. This food otherwise would be thrown away. We also get donations from the Hilton Hotel in Short Hills New Jersey. As soon as COVID 19 exponentially multiplied in our area and New York City became the epi-center, and New Jersey as well was being infected at an alarming rate all the schools closed down, as well as some hotels; Newark imposed a curfew which was quickly followed by orders to shelter-in. The soup kitchen had to be temporarily closed but the pantry is still in operation.

Even though the soup kitchen had to temporarily close God has been good to us. In a way it’s good that the soup kitchen is not aligned with the food bank because we are a faith based organization. We have Bible study before our dinners but it is not mandatory for people to attend, and we also have prayer before we eat in which participation is not required. What I have found in my years at the soup kitchen is that most of our clients want to participate because many of them believe in God and are looking for consolation and comfort. Because of Federal regulations we cannot pray at the pantry, nor pass out tracts, nor engage in any kind of activity that might be perceived as infringing on our clients civil rights.

We enjoy having religious freedom at our soup kitchen though. Souls come seeking solace from a world that relentlessly beats them down. I can hear the voice of the community scribe reading from the Bible, I Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves…Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” Issues…issues…issues…I’m homeless…got no health insurance…need to go in a program…boyfriend abusing me…don’t have enough food for my children…tired of living in the shelter…and this was before COVID 19 that is now our reality.

In the midst of this pandemic from the depths of hell our country is being shaken to the very foundation of the sustainability upon which it was built capitalism being our economic system, and democracy our political system. The organization Feeding America has always been here as have foodbanks all across the country but now they have been thrown into the forefront because so many people have lost their jobs and now have no income. Millions and millions have filed for unemployment but for many the process is endless and they have not received compensation. On our last pantry day we serviced about 161 heads of households and the food bank on the same day had a drive through pantry where 5000 boxes of food were given away. This highlights the magnitude of the current problem of food insecurity in our country.

According to a New York Times article found at nytimes.com entitled Poor Americans Hit Hardest by job losses and amid lock downs…”thirty-six million people in the last two months have applied for unemployment; 39% of those who have lost their jobs make $40,000 a year or less as compared to 13% who make $100,000 a year or more.” According to the organization Feeding America prior to the pandemic about 37 million people were suffering from food insecurity, or having a hard time buying food with all the other bills to pay. One foodbank network reported that typically they service about 32,000 households weekly but since the unemployment crisis these numbers have increased by 26,000 people needing food assistance.

Many of the iniquities in our system are being exposed. Why have minorities and immigrants been hit the hardest? There is a direct correlation between health care or should I say the lack of adequate health care or no health care at all and our black and brown communities being ravaged by COVID 19. In the Washington Post an article entitled Democracy Dies in Darkness found at nypost.com states “As the novel Coronavirus sweeps across the United States it appears to be killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate…” In a survey done by John Hopkins University and participating state health departments it was found that “counties that are majority black have three times the rate of infection and almost six times the rate of death as counties where white residents are in the majority.” The information was taken from a sampling of counties most of the states being in the east. It is a known health fact diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease plague the black community. Once again these trends point directly to the inequities in our health system.

Perennials blooming yet in May we still have 32 degree days. Nature is gathering all her forces to take a leap of faith knowing that God is in control of all that is natural and beautiful on earth and in our universe. The brilliant colors splashed across the sky at the beginning of a new day announcing new beginnings…the strength found in the solid rock mountains of his creation weathering the storms of life…the tides of the ocean controlled by the moon, the sun, and gravity as human beings go about their lives daily. Yet now we have been stopped in our tracks, constantly having to wear masks, and sheltering-in has become an intricate part in saving our lives…at the same time as states announce plans to open up mustering up our forces and our courage as we are adapting to a new reality.

In February my concern was how much longer the leadership of the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry would be able to sustain our program. But in walked COVID 19 and sustainability took on new dimensions and we became infused with God’s limitless energy as we witnessed the crushing financial blow overwhelming our community reminding us that we are the people of God… the senior citizen leadership…In my mind I can hear our community scribe reading Galatians 6:9 “And let us not to be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” As long as food insecurity exists in our community God will provide and make a way that even in these devastating times his light will continue to shine at the House of Love Soup Kitchn/Pantry located in Newark, NJ.

© 2020, Tamam Tracy Moncur

TAMAM TRACY MONCUR is currently is the Outreach Coordinator for the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry located in Newark NJ. This is a community faith-based organization whose mission is to help individuals who are experiencing hardship due to life circumstances.  They partner with the NJ Foodbank, the Seton Hall Food Recovery Program, and the Short Hills Hilton Hotel to provide food to the community.

 

Posted in COVID-19/Pandemic, poem, Poems/Poetry

Two poems by Linda Chown

A Time for God

This is the time for God,
for a roaring sonorous voice,
a biblical moment, indeed,
when we’re shouldering the slaughtered daily,
trying to assuage the fire of fear in and around us,
when leaders spring forth and speak
with the hallowed tone of the ancient tabernacle.
Ages old salt smells, a smear of blood
We’re ready for the divine, dying alive in our
concern. This big, larger than life moment
when life and death waver voluptuously around us.


Modern Life Is Being

masked faces in the cubist ball
that modern life is being,
that modern life is seeing
masked ones gloved and covered
floating mindless in Edgar Allan Poe’s hives,
his Masque of the Red Death breaking,
reality cracks & strange shapes rattle
much like Robert Louis Stevenson incubates
fabulous forms his boats steering far off course, heroes double vestiges of how they thought themselves to be what they were
Poe and RLS brilliant slantwise visionaries. Besides they spun torn lives on the edge,
blooming irregular tunes, masked and twisted.

© 2020, Linda Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite. Linda’s Amazon Page is HERE.

Posted in COVID-19/Pandemic, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Out There

I need to air out my brain
I say
to the walls
that never reply

will they miss me?
will they even notice I am gone?
I clip on my helmet
and mount my bicycle
she is stiff
not an easy ride
but she has taught me so much

as my feet spin
slowly
the air hits my face
sharp, cold

tears well up in my eyes
as I cruise along deserted streets
crawling past a speckling of people
walking in pairs or alone
like myself
alone

I slip into a world
all my own
forgetting the crisis we are in
I marvel at the incredibly skilled rollerblader
in front of me

Criss crossing
spinning
and somehow missing the many lethal potholes
I feel as though I am getting my own private show

Stopping I hike up to my spot
on a rock
amongst the trees

I watch as the sun slips away
behind the buildings across the way

sipping on tea
I think
we will be ok
this will all be ok
what ok looks like
I do not know
whether I can be patient
is uncertain

the cold creeps in
and my toes begin to transform
into ice cubes
I listen a little longer
to the rustling leaves
and whispers of bird cries
then lift off
and carry on this adventure
we all call life.

© 2020, Tricia Enns

TRICIA ENNS’ work explores how our relationship with the social and material spheres of the world impact the well-being of us as individuals, of our communities, and of the environment. She uses craft, illustrations, performance, writing, movement, playful interventions, humour and more recently electronics in her practice.

Posted in First Peoples, Joseph Hesch, medicine, native american, short story

The Visions of Henry At-the-Water and He Pounds With His Left Hand

“Another twenty, twenty-five,” Hank Atwater said as he counted the tufts of white drifting on the edge of his property, lonesome as clouds in the late-spring New Mexico sky.

“They must be dropping like flies,” he said as he scanned the scattered sheep herd.

“I know. Reminds me of the shipping fever we got back when I was little in aught-nine, but they was beeves,” his son Chet said with a chuckle.

“You think this is funny, Chester Mateo?” Hank’s eyes flashed beneath the shade of his sombrero.

“No sir, I was just comparing how they’re all fine on Tuesday and dead on Thursday.” Chet had learned the hard way that hearing his father use his proper name followed by the baptismal name his mother gave him was akin to the warning of distant thunder. A storm could be coming.

“These ain’t cows we’re talking about, boy. And it ain’t these stinking, bleating blankets on the hoof, either. These are real people, despite what your grandfather would have you believe. And they been here a hell of a lot longer than he was. Even longer than your mama’s supposedly conquering Spaniard ancestors,” Hank said. He would’ve spit if he could work some up in his mouth.

“If these Navajo keep dying off like this, there won’t be any more sheep or wool or people living out here. And if there’s no people, then all you see is the flat nothing you can’t see in an old painting. No spirit, no soul. And if they can get sick, that means we can, too. You understand that, Chet?”

“Yes, Pa. I get it. But how’re you gonna stop these blanket-heads, I mean these folks, from getting sick? Or makin’ us sick?”

“That, Chester Mateo, is the problem. No one knows. Yet.”

Hank spurred his horse east, but veered off the main trail toward the edge of the Navajo reservation, toward the hogan of his friend Klah Etsiddy. Etsiddy’s family lived beneath an old pueblito tower of adobe bricks and mud. Normally, Hank would know his friend was home by the smoke coming from the smithy his grandfather built within the pueblito after The Long Walk from Arizona.

As they rode nearer, even Chet was aware something was different. All he heard was the wind. By now, he should be hearing the ring of Etsiddy’s hammer on his anvil, turning red-hot iron into tools or horseshoes. His father broke the silence as he spurred his horse into a lope toward the hogan, from which no smoke rose either.

“Lefty, you here?” Hank called out his friend’s nickname as he jumped out of the saddle. In the Navajo language, Klah Etsiddy meant He Pounds With His Left Hand.

As Chet reined up, he saw his father approach the front of the house, then stop short a couple of yards from the entrance as a figure emerged from the shadows in the doorway.

“Come no closer, Henry At-the-Water,” Etsiddy said. “I wish you well, my friend, so I ask that you stay back from my home. The evil spirit of your war against the Kaiser has invaded the Diné, I think.”

“Are you sick, Lefty? Is Johona all right? Your Mom, The kids?”

“We are not yet sick. But we are not attending the great healing ceremonies with other families because my mother is so feeble now. But you know she is a blessed medicine woman and a hand trembler. She had a vision that this great sickness was coming.”

“A vision? You’re kidding, right?” Chet said as he alit onto the hard-packed dirt in front of the hogan. AS he strode toward the doorway, his father roughly grabbed his arm.

“Yes. She saw the saddle catch fire on the old horse’s back when was not near any flames. So we have eaten of that horse.”

Chet still couldn’t believe what he heard. “What?” he said as he scanned Etsiddy’s corral. “Out here in the middle of nowhere, no doctor for fifty miles. An old grandma and kids. And you ate one of your only ways of getting help?” Chet asked. Hank shot him another of his thunderstorm looks.

“My mother knows what to do, Chester At-the-Water. I took one of my other horses to warn my neighbors, but they aren’t so…accepting of Mother’s gifts. So we will stay here and follow the old ways.”

“Pa, I can’t take anymore of this blanket-head hocus-pocus shit. I’m gonna start for Gallup. I’m stopping at the Jennings’ spread on the way.”

“I would feel a lot better if you went right home, Chet. Your Mom might be needing you until I get there,” Hank said. But, with a squeak of leather and of huff of breath from his mount, Chet was already in the saddle and headed to his girlfriend’s father’s ranch.

“I swear. That boy will be the death of me, Lefty.”

“He is young and has not found his way yet, Henry. He needs guidance and knowledge of the spirits inside him and around us.”

“He needs a swift kick in the ass is what he needs. So what is it you and your family really gonna do, Lefty? I worry about you out here.”

“Mother said we should be safe. She was taught by her grandfather who was a great hatalii during other such sicknesses. We have seen illness as bad as this before.”

“I don’t know, my friend. The doctors still don’t know what this thing is or where it really came from. Some say France, where they were fighting the war. Some say Kansas, where we trained boys to go fight there,” Hank said, pushing the brim of his hat back.

“As I said, Henry, any way you look it is the evil shadow of that war begun this sickness, as sure as the many rivers like the webs of spiders are born of one, Tółchíʼíkooh, the river you call Colorado.”

Well, just the same, if I didn’t know you and the Diné as you taught me, I’d haul you back to my place, just to be closer to a doctor.”

“Henry, I am already closer to any doctor than you are. She sleeps on the other side of my hogan,” Etsiddy said with a chuckle.

“What’s she sayin’ to do?” Hank said.

“We are now supposed to stay away from others, keep our life force close within us. After today, I will not see you until this is over or in the next life. I only leave the hogan to go to the pueblito or to tend the animals. We will pray and keep ourselves clean. Mother says I should not go to my forge because it will make my hands too dirty.”

“She wants you to keep your hands clean? How the hell…?”

“Yes, it is what she was taught. We have many things to do. The children will learn from Mother, Johan and me more in the next weeks than they would in many months. This illness could be a good thing for my family.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, compadre, but I learned a long time ago not to pooh-pooh the teachings of the Diné elders. They proved too right too many times. Hell, you’re all still here, aren’t you?”

“Many won’t be after this, Henry. I have cleansed myself in a great sweat and seen this in a vision, too. I pray you take Mother’s warning to heart for yourself and your family. Keep close to home. Keep clean. Stay happy. Pray. That’s the best way I can explain it to…”

“A white man?”

Both men laughed.

“Well, Yá’át’ééh, Klah Etsiddy, my friend. You keep well, okay?”

Yá’át’ééh, Henry At-the-Water. I hope to see you when the sickness is gone.”

But Hank Atwater and Klah Etsiddy did not see one another again.

Hank decided to adhere to his friend’s mother’s advice, but his son did not. That day, Chet stopped off at the Jennings’ place where his girl, Alice, was nursing a tickle in her throat. With a peck on the cheek, he left for home.

In a week, she was dead.

In ten days, so were Hank Atwater and his wife. But, for some reason, not Chet.

When word of his friend’s death reached the hogan of Klah Etsiddy, the Navajo blacksmith arose from listening to his mother teach his children about how the Diné Bizaad continued to survive in this difficult land over the centuries. His children kept her alive she told her son many times.

“Even with all our prayers and Mother’s knowledge, the great illness took my friend. But I will always believe Henry At-the-Water had a vision of his end,” Etsiddy said to his wife.

“What was that, husband?”

“He always told me Young Chester Mateo At-the-Water would be the death of him.”

© 2020, Joe Hesch; photo credit –  Frances Canyon Pueblito ruins, New Mexico. An 18th century fort believed to have been built by the Navajo people. Photo by T. Mietty, June, 2007/ Public Domain

 

 

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Pandemic/ COVID-19, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Before Corona by Mike Stone

Once, a long time ago,
Before Corona,
People sat together
Talking in soft voices
That only they could hear
Heads almost touching.

People held hands
While walking along
A riverbank
At sunset.
Sometimes people
Held each other so close
They could feel each other’s bodies
Underneath their clothes.
Sometimes they kissed
Tasting each other’s mouths.
Sometimes
They pleasured each other.

And sometimes
There were the accidental touches
On crowded trains or buses or planes
That you each savored privately
Arms brushing against arms,
Hand touching hand
While passing a cup of coffee
To someone,
A head heavy with sleep
Leaning against you
Long hair spilling across your shoulder.

These were the times before Corona
That we lived for,
That we couldn’t imagine
Having to do without,
That we thought would go on forever.

April 22, 2020

©2020 Mike Stone
from “The Hoopoe’s Call”

Before and After
Time of Coronavirus
Digital Landscape from Photographs
Photographs ©2007
Michael and Aviva Dekel
Artwork ©2020
Michael Dickel
Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

Pandemic Haikus Collection by Anjum Wasim Dar

covid haiku

 

red killer virus

unseen contagious, small

stay clean, far, or  fall.

 

Social distancing

washing hands fast becoming

new law of all lands.

 

Corona dharna

houses safe, don’t wire us,no

lathi-charge*, just soap.

 

who locked me in first

now corona virus has

taken my revenge.

 

value the window

all the world is in it now

zoom in side, zoom out.

*lathi-charge: (India) The police tactic of charging a crowd with lathis or batons in order to disperse it.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

Beyond Yearning to Hope

Courtesy of Nick Fewings, Unsplash

“This virus is teaching us that from now on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights are not far left issues, but issues of right versus wrong, life versus death.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, American Protestant minister and political activist. Rev. Barber is the author of several recommended books. His Amazon page is HERE.



The dreams can drive you crazy sometimes
The ones that envision a just world, one
Where equity is the backbone of endurance
A vineyard of bliss, so to speak, a garden of joy
Relative to the greed times of unworthy living
In a penthouse with a golden toilet, while
Others sleep on cardboard outside, urinating
In the streets, begging for lunch and walking
Barefoot in the snow, betrayed from day one
By the false ideal of rugged independence,
Of monied might is alright, of resource hording
By the richest and unconscionable trafficking of
Children for the unhinged pleasures of the elite
Oh my God, how did this happen? and who
Might have thought that the munitions factory
Of a deadly virus would bring us nose to nose?
How COVID-19 recognizes no bank account or
Prestigious position, just drops its noxious tidbits
Indiscrimanently, into lungs of princes, prime ministers
Those sleeping rough on city streets, its travels
Enhanced by an uneven distribution of access
To water, healthcare, space, living wages,
Paid time off, the rudiments of a civilized life
Girded by compassionate societies, lessons
Learned, we await implementation, and
Dare we move beyond yearning to hope

Originally published by Brave Voices and as The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt 

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

This poem and post are dedicated to the much admired Rev. William Barber and to Bernie Sanders. 

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Poems/Poetry

Heroic Words by Adrian Slonaker

“How are you?”
Here’s a hackneyed platitude
sidelined like sticky bottles of
condiments at the edges of
booths in greasy spoons – way back in February,
when they were
open,
throwaway words in the time of
meet-ups and Tinder, when
free physicality flowed
like turbid streams
coursing from their sources.
Yet during the drought,
the bromide won’t abandon its
fair-weather friends
as our touches and taps
and caresses and kisses are
evicted by locks and walls and
worry and six feet-
or two meters –
of mandated
icy space.
“How are you?”
A phrase as familiar
as crammed cafés
or yell-laden yellow schoolbuses
or sweaty discotheques,
a sanity-sustaining
semantic squeeze,
a question of concern,
of care,
of connection
softens the strange
hole of isolation.

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker

ADRIAN SLONAKER crisscrosses North America as a language professional, Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net nominee. Adrian is fond of opals, owls and fire noodlesAdrian’s work has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ez.P.Zine, Page & Spine and others.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Poems/Poetry

Tomorrow by Ronny Sommek, Hebrew with English by Karen Alkalay-Gut

@2020 Ronny Semmek

מחר

בְּרֶגַע זֶה כָּל מִלָּה הִיא רַעַף בְּגַג הַבַּיִת
שֶׁאֶבְנֶה מָחָר.
בַּחוּץ קַר.
זוֹ לֹא סְטִירַת הָרוּחַ שֶׁל מֶרְץ אוֹ אֶגְרוֹף הַבָּרָד
מֵהַחֹדֶשׁ שֶׁעָבַר. זוֹהִי הַמַּכָּה מִתַּחַת לְאֵין-חֲגוֹרָה. הַטֶּבַע הוּא
אֶגְרוֹפָן הַמַּכִּיר רַק אֶת הַמִּלָּה
“נוֹקְאָאוּט”.

פִילִיפּ שׁוֹלֵחַ מִמִּילָנוֹ תַּצְלוּמִים שֶׁל אֲרוֹנוֹת קְבוּרָה.
אֵיזֶה בִּזְבּוּז לְהַפְקִיר אֶת הַחוּם־אֲדַמְדַּם
שֶׁל הַמָּהָגוֹנִי וְלִטְמֹן אוֹתוֹ בָּאֲדָמָה. אֲנִי שׁוֹלֵחַ מַבָּט
לַטִּפּוֹת הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁנִּשְׁאֲרוּ בְּבַקְבּוּק הַמַּרְטִינִי,
וְנִזְכַּר בְּדוּכַן הַמְּכִירוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל הַמַּשְׁקֶה שָׁם בְּאוֹתָהּ מִילָאנוֹ.
לְמִי שֶׁשָּׁכַח, הַכֹּל מַתְחִיל בְּוֶרְמוּט וּשְׁמוֹנָה עָשָׂר אָחוּז שֶׁל
אַלְכּוֹהוֹל נָקִי מֻשְׁרֶה בְּעִשְׂבֵי תִּבּוּל. אָז בּוֹא נִשְׁתֶּה לְזִכְרָם. רוּסוֹ,
בְּיַאנְקוֹ אוֹ אֶקְסְטְרָה־דְּרַי.

סָלָח מִתְקַשֵּׁר מִפָּרִיז וּמַזְכִּיר לִי שֶׁהָרוּחַ הָרָעָה נוֹשֶׁבֶת גַּם בָּעִיר
בָּהּ נוֹלַדְנוּ. קוֹרוֹנָה בַּגְדָּדִית עִם עָרַבֶּסְקוֹת .הוּא מְחַבֵּר לָהּ קְלָלָה
שֶׁהִיא הַגְּרוּשׁ שֶׁהָיָה חָסֵר לַדִּינָר בַּבּוּרְסָה שֶׁל עִירָאק.

וּבְרָמַת גַּן אֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְהַדְהִיר אֶת הַמִּכְחוֹל
כְּמוֹ שֶבָּאשִׁיר אַבּוּ רַבִּיעַ מְמַלֵּא אֶת סוּסָיו
בְּצִבְעֵי הָאֵין־סוֹף.
אֲנִי רוֹצֶה שֶֶׁקְיוּזוֹ מִ”שִּׁבְעַת הַסָּמוּרָאִים”
יַצִּיל אוֹתָנוּ.
שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיִלְפֹּת שׁוּב אֶת חַרְבּוֹ כְּיֶלֶד הַמְּאַגְרֵף אֶת הַסֻּכָּרִיָּה
הָאַחֲרוֹנָה בְּכִיסוֹ,
שֶׁיַּזְכִּיר לַצֶּלוֹפָן שֶׁעָלָיו לְהַסְתִּיר אֶת אוֹתָהּ סֻכָּרִיָּה
מִשִּׁנֵּי הָעוֹלָם.

מָחָר יִהְיוּ הָרְעָפִים מֵהַשּׁוּרָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה גַּג מֶטָפוֹרִי
שֶׁל בֵּית קָפֶה לְמָשָׁל.
שָׁם נָבִין סוֹף סוֹף שֶׁגַּם עִרְבּוּב חָלָב
בְּתַחְתִּית הַסֵּפֶל יָכוֹל לִבְרֹא
עוֹלָם חָדָשׁ.

Hebrew poem ©2020 Ronny Sommek


Tomorrow

Right now, every word is a tile on the roof of the house
I’ll build tomorrow.
It’s cold outside.
It’s not the slap of the march wind or a punch of hail
From last month. This is a blow beneath the beltless. Nature is
A boxer who knows only the word
“Knockout.”

Phillip sends photographs of coffins from Milan.
What a waste to sacrifice the red-brown
Of mahogany and bury it in the ground. I glance
At the last drops left in the martini bottle,
And remember the first kiosk of that drink in that very Milan.
In case someone has forgotten, it all begins with vermouth and eighteen percent of
Pure alcohol soaked with herbs. So let’s drink to their memory. Rosso,
Bianco, or extra-dry.

Salah calls from Paris and reminds me that the evil wind is blowing as well in the city
We were born. Baghdadi Corona with arabesques. He composes a curse
That it was the last piaster missing from the dinar in the stock exchange of Iraq.

And in Ramat Gan I would like to make a paintbrush gallop
The way Bashir Abu Rabia fills his horses
With paint of eternal colors.
I want Kyuzo from “The Seven Samurai“
To save us.
To come and grasp his sword once more
Like a child who clenches his last candy in his pocket
To remind the cellophane that it must hide that candy
From the teeth of the world.

Tomorrow the tiles from the first line will be a metaphoric roof
Of a coffee house for instance.
There we will understand, at last, that stirring milk
in the bottom of the cup can create
a new world.

English translation ©2020 Karen Alkalay-Gut


Pandemic / Tomorrow Digital Landscape from Photographs ©2020 Michael Dickel
Pandemic / Tomorrow
Digital Landscape from Photographs
©2020 Michael Dekel

Karen Alkalay-Gut’s latest books, due to be published next month, are the dual language Surviving Her Story: Poems of the Holocaust (Courevour Press), translated to French by Sabine Huynh, and A Word in Edgewise (Simple Conundrums Press). She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and an outdoor alley cat.

See her two pandemic poems on The BeZine Blog here.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Pandemic/ COVID-19, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Two Poems by Anjum Wasim Dar

The World Came to A Stop

Another day, another death,
another night, another sin
committed not regretted, nor repented,
routine pulled in pain, in beating
the grain for hours, sweat poured,
didn’t wash the hurt,

the baby cried, hungry, on the back
exhausted by jerky rhythmic jolts
then, the world came to a halt-
no cries sounded as bodies fell
listless without breath, awe and fear?
blood sacrifice, so near?

Take cover, take cover, unseen
strafing , women children men, free
of shades, cash or kind, Flee! Flee!
Death defies borders, barbed wires
make no sense, bullets batons guns
lose power.

Emptiness prevails on land, animals
watch caged humans, no honks for way
on roads. Yesterday what we loved to
touch, that very thing we fear, but will
life be the same again? Will there be
honest care?

The sun still shines, the moon in silver
smiles, rivers run for miles, ranges guard
birds twitter, trees remain calm and green,
fruit is plenty, clouds float in the sky, I—
alone, sigh, and cry—I hear my heart say

Now you know, why?
‘Because You would not stop for the World
It kindly stopped for you.’


The  Skean

Boomeranged, the skean slashed, unseen like phosgene on
the terrene, unforeseen unseen, it ripped smothered innocent
breathers, hundreds at once, to thousands in seconds.

Ominous signs forewarned, scary ghostly widespread happening
suspended in the blue expanses a cloudy white sinister skull trailing
horrifically, manifested across boundless, beyond measure,

unknown, space disturbed, restless undines sensed strange miracles in
ocean fathoms-staggering, half-clad, barefooted, marginalized living
bodies, swayed in dizzy drunken states,

dozing, drowning in Shebeen, for uncounted times, now fully wayward,
drifting, stepping, sinking in dunes, sliding aimlessly, what hopes
for humanity when denes destroyed by humanity itself?

Habitats erased mercilessly and clear silver streams
filled with propylene. No Hippochrine in soul and spirit awakens here,
silence the tambourines, smoke not the dudeen,

Sunk to Lethe lust and greed, oblivious of love kindness and good deeds
why to animal level have humans fallen? Believing not The One Unseen?
Now fearing this—though invisible?

The world in speed, metamorphosed  by tiny  Covid-19—enforcing equity—
knows not rank nor caste, nor color nor creed, nor walls nor wires of any
country, nor age nor gender nor family.

Humanity now on a single plane, no one to lose or gain, death is ordained
for rich or poor, dark or fair, all belong here, shrouds no pockets have, just
fabric layers—

Covid-19—with fear you conquer but one strong weapon will win over you,
Humans have faith and prayer, good deeds and Hope—
Hope is their strength—with Hope the pandemic will surely end.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Jamie Dedes, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

Lockdown by Jamie Dedes

Michael Ancher, “The Sick Girl”, 1882, Statens Museum for Kunst / Public domain photograph courtesy of Michael Peter Ancher

“Kleitos, a likeable young man,
about twenty-three years old
with a first-class education, a rare knowledge of Greek
is seriously ill. He caught the fever
that reaped a harvest this year in Alexandria.”
Kleitos’ Illness, Constantine P. Cavafy


Bronchi- and alveoli-seeking respiratory droplets
Float on the air, a nightmare of guided munitions
Always a reckoning when such assassins are loosed,
And now the vineyard of joy is dead and gated, the
Elders are on lockdown, prisoners of COVID-19,
Of a government that moves too slowly, and this
Virus that moves with speed, children sent home
From school, the workers forced from their jobs, a
Run on TP, tissues and hand sanitizers, breezes
Caressing the face, now just a memory like love
And blisses, handshakes and bracing bear-hugs
Like social networking of the off-line variety

Originally published in Jamie Dedes’ The Poet by Day Webzine  in response to Michael Dickel’s Wednesday Writing Prompt

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, interNational Poetry Month, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

in this time of community isolation by gary lundy

at least school shootings have been halted. we worry as everyone seems to. that close relationships have ended. but at least the climate grows slowly back to an earlier normal. were it not for commercial greed. and the ignorant denials banking in their bunkers of wealth. we might pull through. little hope of that happening though. to hold a young child in such light rather than comforts aggravates those consigned to terror. in such solitude language takes a back seat. even thoughts become glued onto the surfaces creating compound fractures. whether or not cleaning occurs or continues. tones familiar and left slightly ajar. at least here the water still runs. even if poorly. open the blinds and enjoy the indifferent sunlight. it’s a good thing you stocked up on brown napkins. this nearly first day of spring. one problem has to do with rereading an event until it turns rigid and fixed. they find some kind of security in lobbing accusations toward any other group. which lies outside their chosen domain. homemade soup and brief even though distant visit. keep up with the dishes. keep washing hands. maybe get around to vacuuming. anything more than an afternoon nap a change in venue. i suppose we all must act as if forever was a positive outcome.

© 2020, gary lundy

gary lundy is the author of five chapbooks, including: when voice detach themselves (is a rose press, 2013), and at | with (Locofo Chaps, 2017); and two full-length collections: heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving (is a rose press, 2016), and each room echoes absence (FootHills Publishing, 2018). His poems have appeared most recently in Ethel, The Collidescope, The McKinley Review, Filling Station, Shark Reef, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Fence. gary is a retired English professor and queer living in Missoula, Montana.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

Looking Glass by Clarissa Simmens

BEFORE

Morning mirror ritual
Stumbling toward the glass
Tumbling down like drowning
But seems there is no change
Rubbed my head
Not a bit dead
Just confused
Everything the same
But not
Text appeared
Pandemic declared
And the cosmos of my old age
Shifted while I slid
Into a new world
Of fear and suspicion
And the madness set in
As one rarely leaving the safety
Of my backyard
Me, maniac
Lunatic looking
For precious paper products
Now both a hunter and gatherer
Worthy of time immemorial’s
Gender-biased survival tasks
As I stride through empty aisles
In dawn’s early stores
Each worker I ask
Where is this?
Do you have that?
Moving back
As they politely invade my space
Trying not to glance
At my black winter gloves
And peace scarf doubling
As a germ-prevention mask
And I ask
Where is the toilet paper?
Where are the eggs?
My shopping cart emptier
Than when I first entered the store
But I so need more
More
More
Not at this store
Or the next one
All empty of what I need
Of my new-found greed
I want…

DURING

All amassing is useless
Allopathic piles of pain relief
Cough meds
Stomachers
Homeopathic heaps of flu banishers
And herbs from East and West
Simpling
Rainforest
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Asian Indian Ayurvedia
Native American lore
Drabarni Gypsy first aid kit
Useless in this Parallel World
Nothing is the same…

STRUGGLING

And the heat and the heat
Burning like a tight winding sheet
Only the swamp can cool it down
But through drought the water drowned

And the heat from the fire
Wrapped round me like strings from a lyre
Can my magical swamp unlock the jail
Of the strangling boa’s tail…

AFTER

And I flail and I burn and call out to sweet water
But it’s not there
And I stumble then tumble
Back through the looking glass
Out of the morass
And my color is better
I swallow and gulp water
From newly fallen rain
Away from the nightmare
But the greed took seed
Not only with me
But pandemically
And suddenly aware
That nothing will ever be the same
Again…

© 2020, Clarissa Simmens

CLARISSA SIMMENS (Poeturja)is an Independent poet; Romani drabarni (herbalist/advisor); ukulele and guitar player; wannabe song writer; and music addict. Her poetry and songs echo guitar, ukulele and violin music mainly in a Minor key. Clarissa’s Amazon Page is HERE. Her Romani Gypsy Books are HERE.
 
 
Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Poems/Poetry

First Shock – While I Wait for Time To Be by Anjum Wasim Dar

While I wait for time to be
the sun is high in the sky
heating every nook and sea
patience, patience is the key,

for I am fasting. A promise to
Thee, Master of the Day of Decree
when all of a sudden I see the news—
now its Italy…Oh Master, Mercy!

World under attack, not only one country!
Pandemic East to West, unseen virus—so many,
sincerity of peace, but what went wrong
on this side of the Earth—why did hatred increase?

This side was more free and wide and green,
a land of freedom, equality, and opportunity?
So much killing is insane, what will all that blood
gain, for whom the bell tolls now, again?

Why one dying is saved, and doctors applauded
ebola, dengue, acid victims, disabled, amputated…?
These are the same as war soldiers, injured,
no land is gained, no territory conquered.

Why then is humanity fearfully infected?
Life and Death is for the Master to set.
He is Most Gracious Merciful and Kind.
Then we, the humans have wandered blind—

from the straight path and the natural way,
a sign of end time when man with man will lay
and woman with woman will be one to stay—
while I wait for the sun to go down and rest—

disturbed, perturbed, painful. and hurt I am.
Weapons were not found on this planet but
berries, food, water. Fruit and peace was best.
Let us throw all weapons aside and rest,

abide by law, and meet as a world community
all together. Coming—a Holy Month of Peace Master
declared—not one but four when no killing be dared.
We ourselves are to blame for all this shame—

we are wrong—we need to sit, be humble, and think—
not stand or be proud and count the armored tanks.
Hurry People! Sit down, kneel, pray, forgive—we all are
dangerously at the end, at the edge, at the brink…

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Mbizo Chirasha, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

Iron Wind by Mbizo Chirasha

Medico Della Peste – “plague doctor’s” mask – Beak doctor mask; Traditional Venetian Carnavale masks, including the “plague doctor’s” mask, in the window of the Ca’ del Sol mask shop in the Sestiere di Castello. Courtesy of Tracy under CC BY 2.0

“If we survive, we may have to analyze our engagement with dark matters
that
 put life at risk. If we don’t, we are to blame for our end.
For now, let’s keep hygienic, keep to ourselves, bury our Dead, care for the
dying and think of how we have arrived at where we are.” Mbizo Chirasha



The world has known divisions for as long as history can remember. From
strength that overrides others to the weakness that attracts marauding gangs
of men of ambition and cunning. Adventure has led some into what they
termed “discoveries” of Rivers and their sources, of Mountains high and
majestic, and a people so different in their cultural environments, that to
the eye of a visitor, they appeared other-worldly.

The world has never run short of divisive tools and terms to keep one for
each. From the irony of heights and weights, to the delight’s and
indecency of dark humor based on foods and drinks and a people’s culture.
GOD and gods have their roles and stamps on a people’s interpretations,
raging from waging wars to convert and dominate, to whole sale massacres
because others beliefs were less acceptable to a deity followed by a
muscular power. In the name of many known Faiths, humankind has suffered
immensely and continues to suffer even under the full glare of a world that
is so connected, that nothing escapes the owl eyed social Media/internet
never sleeping eyes.

————

If it’s not belief it’s something else that pits one man to another. Color
has played the worst card in segregation of humanity. Regimes are known to
have come up with a cultic panacea of annihilating all who were less than
their proscribed hue, height, and eye color in a so-called super race.

Commerce has not particularly done well to hide it’s dismal take on the
lesser-endowed in terms of what the world considers GDP….Countries are
graded into first-, second-, and third- worlds. Countries comprise individual
human beings. Once categorized in numerical terms, they cease to have a
human quality and adopt a statistical stature.

Dehumanizing poverty by demonizing it and those suffering
the “pauper malady”. Terms like ”those who survive under
a dollar a day”. A people labelled by lack. Another labelled by luck.

————

Divisions.

Then came weaponry and sophistication. Guns and canned Carnage. Bombs
as heroism spoke to the Sky over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. More divisions
follow. Giants with cold threats lying under silos of frozen homes awaiting
disagreements. What a time of it the world had! But like all eras, this too
came to an end with trumpets of fragmentation scattering the deadly
embers of stored caches of annihilation finding its ways into eager
markets of rogue juvenile quarters ready to tussle for positions of
“global respect” through “fire power”.

Ideology made no sense. Religion was cowed. No one was immune to the future
that loomed on the human collective heads as each goon state thumped it’s
nukes chest.

————

How times change!

A new baby was born in the East. A baby with an attitude like a thief.
Escaping its parents unloving gloved hands, it flew first into the
neighborhood, dropping its ghastly feces on the heads of its makers’ kin.
Death. Sinister death. The wind took the birdling over the border, across
the oceans on the comforts of cruise ships. And luxury living became a
nightmare. Right now, quarantine is not for rabid dogs or lepers in their
colonies.

It’s what no longer divides that divides us. What irony! We are faced by an
enemy of our own intellect taken over concious. Our own intelligence
exceeding common sense. Our own genius gone insane.
In it all, regardless of mitigation measures, one thing speaks a human
language. It’s no longer about class, color or creed. it’s not even about
ideology or theology. It’s about being careful to survive the monster we
have made. And the world suddenly speaks “humanese”.

How I wish we didn’t have to face such an ugly and tragic catastrophe to
bring us to the realization of the folly of excessive greed in pursuit of
glory and power over others.

————

If we survive, we may have to analyze our engagement with dark matters
that put life at risk. If we don’t, we are to blame for our end.
For now, let’s keep hygienic, keep to ourselves, bury our Dead, care for the
dying, and think of how we have arrived at where we are.

While at it, let’s pray. For regardless of our form of worship, days of
worship, mode of worship. and the dress code in worship, we all pray to a
Higher Power. That Power may yet hear our prayers and lend a hand.

YOU SEE, praying is personal and communal, if you will. Worship places are
closing fast, if not faster than bars and delis. Offices are closing fast,
if not faster than schools.

Only true saints are at work. Those medics and their assistants and the
guys who must fill the supermarket shelves with your basics.
If you ask me, the very deity we seek in those buildings, is inside us and
those selfless humans who take chances with their lives to take charge of
ours. They are the ones melting down the iron wind of a viral onslaught
on humanity right now.

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

Originally published in Jamie Dedes’ The Poet by Day Webzine  in response to Michael Dickel’s Wednesday Writing Prompt

Mbizo Chirasha (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of the Zine team and  a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017). He is a Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York, 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund, Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.
Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

Latter-Day Heroes by Jamie Dedes

standard intensive care unit (ICU) within a hospital courtesy of Norbert Kaiser under CC BY-SA 2.5 license

“The coronavirus pandemic is a world-changing event, like 9/11. There was a world before Covid-19. And there will be a world after Covid-19. But it won’t be the same.” Oliver Markus Malloy, What Fox News Doesn’t Want You To Know



They’re heroes, you know, real heroes
Not the ones in capes and caps, No!
The ones in scrubs, masks, nursing clogs
Daily on extended shifts, exhausted
As fate would have it, often succumbing
And when not, still the concerns for
Possible transmission to family, to friends
To strangers along their commute, and
“I worry for my parents,” says one
On his steadfast mission, another
Fears for her unborn child, six months
pregnant, with rounded tummy she works
For her patients, for colleagues, for the
Greater good, while a president sets
A precedent for lies, misinformation,
Stupidity, cruelty, self-absorption in the
Face of a nation in need of solidarity,
A peoples at risk, a worldwide community
In want of coordination and collaboration
They put him to shame, the heroes of
The pandemic, honoring their trust,
Donning their scrubs, masks, nursing clogs
Daily on extended shifts, committed
Compassionate, self-sacrificing, latter-day
Heroes of the human condition, heroes of
A world that will never be the same

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Dedicated to all medical workers but especially to my own critical care and palliative care teams. 

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

Before/After by Shelby Wilson

Is this a before/after moment?
Do we stand astride the chasm in history’s annals?

Renowned halls of learning echo,
fork-tongued ghost voices fill the pupil-less void.

Eyes search the ether for
the knowledge they can grasp, in absentia.

Minds are bookmarked in the gutter.

The faces that once faced others
are sterilized by the LEDs of screens.

Chemical antiseptic perfume wafts
on the winds of forsaken corridors.

Has life gone verso/recto?
Does past/future bifurcate here?

© 2020, Shelby Wilson

SHELBY WILSON is a high school AP English teacher from Amarillo, Texas. He holds a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in English from West Texas A&M University.  His work has appeared in Ink & Nebula, Sparks of Calliope, Celestal Review, and Madness Muse Press.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

evidently our hearts have to break every day by gary lundy

no going back. and going forward feels a wasted effort. loss with little to gain. signatures retiring mid sentence. you long for laughter yet find only decimated forests. and ground water. this day when not even private jets are safe. when the only hope is for those with power pushing limits colliding against the recently constructed wall. casualties in the tens of thousands. they refuse to count being more taken in by the direction the wind may take. it being a short runway and take off tricky. fully clothed and faces masked a dance commences outrageous. you don’t want to forget. but must to elongate the shadow of daylight. and there i go drawing unexamined conclusions. then acting upon them. naturally they carry little weight. even for us. formulaic redundancy. their course prepared. play ball. sit in the sun for a little while. an all too brief respite. and their mother dies unexpectedly overnight. younger by two decades than you. photographs of flat landscapes capture the ungoverned absence of our imagination. mistake multiplication for subtraction. escape the improbable through denial. missing the page numbers twice in recounting. is there an absence gathered in those sites of silence. or more realistically reasonable doubt and blindness.

© 2020, gary lundy

gary lundy is the author of five chapbooks, including: when voice detach themselves (is a rose press, 2013), and at | with (Locofo Chaps, 2017); and two full-length collections: heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving (is a rose press, 2016), and each room echoes absence (FootHills Publishing, 2018). His poems have appeared most recently in Ethel, The Collidescope, The McKinley Review, Filling Station, Shark Reef, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Fence. gary is a retired English professor and queer living in Missoula, Montana.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic

World As Battlefield

There is good and evil
Traps and cunning
Relationships of love
And of hate, filtered
By many changing marbles…
Culture, class, the times
Healthy identity and patrimony
Of being and becoming.

© 2020, Ann Privateer

ANN PRIVATEER is a poet, artist, and photographer. Some of her work has appeared in Third Wednesday, Manzanita, and Entering to name a few.