Quarantine Tales Week 4

Welcome to Quarantine Tales. This series shares the amazing work all of you are creating during this unprecedented time in history. Social distancing and quarantine have brought up a lot – share your art, photography, poems, and short stories with us.

Quarantine Tales Week 4

COVID Stories by Julia Justo

COVID Stories by Julia Justo

Find more on Julia’s website

Self-quarantine, Day 23 by Samantha Slupski

I seemed to freak out about it before anyone else / while people were sunbathing in groups / I carried

hand sanitizer to use after touching every door handle / I did a poll on Instagram asking if I should

cancel my flight to California / and only one person said yes / if all of this tells me anything / it tells

me I need to trust myself more / tells me my intuition knows best / I remember feeling weird about

going on a cross-country poetry tour / but I couldn’t figure out why / and now I think my gut is a

fortune teller / I was planning a different trip for May but just couldn’t quite make the commitment /

and I can’t help but think all of my second-guessing is for the best / and sometimes / people look at it

as doubt / when really / I think it’s my body keeping itself safe before it even knows it’s in danger / I

think this is evolution / they say that evolution comes from living things having to adapt to their

environments / and what I guess I’m saying is that my body has adapted to the close-calls / but it has

also learned from the all the car crash situations of my life / that all this this anxiety is just an airbag

that deployed too early / how grateful that I am that I evolved into having all of these safety features /

because I’m scared if I didn’t / that I would be somewhere in California / having a hard time breathing

Find more on Samantha’s Website and on Instagram

Muddling by Carrie Jean Schroeder

Muddling by Carrie Jean Schroeder


part 1


So you’re building a new world?




cardi b demanded someone at the Pentagon “let a bitch know”


still no answer:
Who carries the coroner?


folks who attended real-life funerals via videoconference app deserve optional do-overs


What happened to the old world?

everyone wanted the comforts of conspicuous consumption


National Guardspeople in New Rochelle couldn’t scrub another Lego

Pitbull’s celebrity empowerment anthem didn’t catch like it was supposed to

soap operas ran out of episodes


What kinds of comforts will you take? 

my socialized government handout / freedom payment


survival kits assembled by the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal government


escalators good for feet to get on


the bear I sleep with


my Chromebook bc it helps me know where I stand while pacing around in underwear


Are there people you want to travel with on the way?

Gen-C quaranteam


non/essential abortions


rollerbladers acro-yogis g-ma & g-pa on iPads


Queer Eye’s Antoni if he comes through with parmaggedon, calm-lettes, and sequestered salmon


anyone sun-angled on living room carpet


How will you get there?


animals such as Egyptian tarmac geese and Japanese subway station deer

recommissioned Ride the Ducks vehicles where the driver leans over the side and scoops up water with a chalice and tosses it back


What will you leave behind?

lemme think


part 2




What will you leave behind? 

the idea that the Bible is one book. Every book in the Bible should be a separate book. Acts and Psalms don’t need to lay side-by-side in multi-genre matrimony

the podcaster who suggested marginalized creatives deliver interim content during “an entrepreneurial moment”

stays here


Anything else?

clumpy nail polish 

spotty pens 

STDs that held on even when hoes stopped hoeing


Anything you’re unsure about as you move forward?

criminal hearings and Kimberly-Clark urinal cakes

the marauding biker who threw the first carrot in the prison cafeteria

also unsure about the idea that something is special if it’s rare

like yellow pigment from the urine of cows that only eat mango leaves and purple made from the glands of snails

nm about the biker I change my mind


part 3

Will the laws of nature and physics be the same?

don’t know

why in holy goddam fck of fcks would you ask me that? 

wanna ask my top five childhood traumas


You’re angry.

well I look like a boiled potsticker


I reneged my Week 12 Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval

when I saw my city’s breath on the outside of my apt. window like reverse hotboxing

tried to align my crying to calendrical patterns



enough of this Marina Abramovic except The Artist is Present Forever bit

when toddlers in the park won’t reach their arms to the sky 

Mom is a videogame character who hits walls but keeps walking

I thought I didn’t matter and took so many baths my ball skin sloughed off


but I matter

the Epidemiological Regulation and Control Center under my sink says so


Should natural and physical laws become magical laws instead?

should immunoglobulin antibodies carry scepters to prom?


part 4


How do you envision magic fitting into everything?

magic will be essential and inexhaustible for lovers


I’ve stockpiled words, life forces, and spells for this moment


every time I crawl into the Meditation & Prayer Womb Bathtub

and talk to myself about marmots termites

fog banks 

foxes & ferrets


What happens?

bubbles disperse indescribable voodoos


Okay. Will there be land enough for everyone?

there’ll be space


Can you explain?

we will have been folded up for so long

going from “I’m headed to school in the literature nook” 

(rolling out the whiteboard/refrigerator)

to sweet alyssum flowers and campfires


It’ll be a transition.

from social chemotherapy destroying the fabric

to fields of pink impatiens bursting when touched

space is gonna be wild


I don’t follow.

 of course not, snapdragon

you haven’t taught 9- and 13-year-olds to fill ice cube trays every day for a month

or played Words With Friends 2 with my mother using an online word generator


You cheated against your mom?

I did but I’m leaving that behind


part 5

You seem ready for the new world.

I had no idea mountains could close, my mom texted me

yep, they rolled up the maps, I said, like a geography teacher who sings and raps


What did your mom say?

I said, no mom, for real, when the tulip bulbs heard the geography teacher’s Earth Day bars

“this whole hill is a Hollywood set / with a chicken wire frame and a little cement / when the Man yells, ‘Cut! That’s a wrap for now’ / they roll up the sky and the stars come down”

they sighed in their well-drained soil and turned their pointed ends sideways


You’re excited to get back to nature, though, right?

out of tablecloth cocoons

tent caterpillars crawled

whilst below them, garden trilliums

turned their ears like Ferris wheels


I assume that means yes?

lily pads used to taste like spearmint


Assuming ‘yes’ to my aforementioned question, can you tell me why you talk about the future in the past tense?

I tricked my brain

everyone talks about goals in the present tense as a way of accomplishing them, right?


Some people do. 

but in the future, things were different

a paleontologist dusted off a construction beam and said Well well well looks like this Forever 21 was at one point a fossil


Will any laws and/or professions change?

have you seen the video for Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love”? 

the future will be like that and people will pay for stupid shit they did and then get back to dancing


Constellations will be visible at night.

with pink moons to howl at


Sounds like here.


the tulips didn’t actually go sideways in the ground and the 88 musicians didn’t actually put their instruments down


part 6


Anything else you’d like to say?

I don’t love snake tongue but I’ve taken poison before

I’ve spent time kissing myself goodbye

how did it come down to this 

scrollin through my calllllllllll list
Norton and McAfee Plus didn’t do shit



we have teriyaki sauce on our fingers and wig hair on our shoulders but that’s the prep we’ve been doing for making irredeemable mistakes and high-altitudes changes

in the body politic

in ice

in mom’s lung

in a screaming invitation that you are worthy and we would love for you to come

Find more from Derek on their Website and Twitter

The White Horse by Jordan Cooley

There’s a man I’ve grown to worry about. He has a mustache much like my PawPaw’s — short and thick, a grey and white broom above his upper lip. Though his shoulders hunch, he has lengthy and strong arms with wide, rough hands. 

I remember the night I met him, I thought the dancehall smelled much like the one I learned in, sticky spilled beer and cigarettes and sweat. It’s smaller, but large enough that there’s a side to watch and a side to dance. That night, I stood at the edge of both.

I used to know how to spin like that; used to dance with men who would flip me without asking, both of us breathless and laughing that it worked; used to have the audacity to walk up to men who danced well and drag them out onto the floor by their pearl snaps. I was drawn to the feeling of being held, knowing which step to take next, twisting and sliding around everyone else, that brief moment waiting to hear if this would be a polka or a waltz or a simple two-step, learning how they signal (gazing over my right shoulder, the gentle movement upward of their left hand, sometimes a push outwards to spin, rough, danced with too many women who couldn’t read like I can). 

And yet, in this country dancehall on the east side, I almost told the old man with the broom mustache no. The first time he and I danced, he pulled me in close and asked, “Do you trust me?” Before I could answer, he spun me out, caught then dipped me. Laughed, “If so, loosen up and stay awhile.” 

That night, and every night I saw him, he danced with patience. Had most women laughing at the end. When he met someone who could keep up with him, it looked easy. There was nothing to prove.

I haven’t been back to the White Horse since the start of the pandemic. Not really since January. I worry about this old man. I know nothing about him except the deep crow’s feet, how he’d spin me into a sweetheart and we’d walk the edge of everyone watching, that he’d end the dance with a wink and promise to find me later.

If and when it opens up again, will he be there, waiting? I wonder if at home, does he pull his wife close, sway to Patsy Cline, wrap his long arms around her in their living room? Does he whisper to her, “Do you trust me?” as they try not to worry about the impending tragedy. “If so, loosen up and stay with me awhile longer.”

Find more from Jordan on their website, Twitter, and Instagram.

Together Alone by Ronit Bezalel

Together Alone by Ronit Bezalel

Find more from Ronit on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Essential Alcohol by Peter Prizel

You weren’t here a hundred years ago. Not out in the open.

In 1918, the Spanish Inquisition of humanity’s lungs was conducted-

Where were you? 

You were locked away in the cupboard of vices


My grandfather- he had to run to some speakeasys’- when he took the train cross country

– upon being accepted to Yale-

He dropped out, chasing 

some blind tigers in New York City-

Never sleeping, under their spell for the rest of his life, which

he eventually took-Me, 

here I am a century later-

playing a game of Russian 

Roulette, without 

the same intent. 

The state declares us both- essential.

Alive with the mandate to keep others sane during this crisis.  To lie-

with the dying, hoping to make all okay.


I dance with them in the day- with you at night.

You are everywhere, masking misery-toasting normality.

You’re as ubiquitous as the death surrounding me- I can’t-

Even groom my whiskers- properly 

soak my liver-

dehydrate my brain 

it’s what you do best. 


Why are you 

here giving false-

ly-ing to us?

I do 

not mind-

fully aware 

that I’ll be- hung 

Over- the same precipice    

the next morning

when you are out of me.

Grandpa does not want-

me to drown

under your guise

I forego my memories

of this hellish day  

when I lost five more 

patients- are dying 

for what?


The same reason 

That you are out of the cup-board 

Ing- in all the healthy people’s

Mouths- they were not 

Made to be covered you know? 

This much which is why I suck

you dry and cry myself

to sleep. 

written snippets of emotion by Sadhika Ganguli

i am like you —

standing at the bar of 

a bustling building.

you pour cocktails and

i spill my sanity…


you are looking out

into an abyss (or to a customer) —

it’s all the same!


            i am gazing into the 

            shallow depth of myself,

            trying to understand

            the events that lead

            to my suffering.


you are just standing 


in lace and with a pale

face — (apathy glazed) —

all the liquor in France

by the tips of your fingers

yet you don’t reach

for a liquid escape!


you are your own black hole!


you are God doing

            cocaine on a dreadful

and deadly day!


you and i…

            we’re stuck, frozen

in moments untold and forgotten.


all the dilettantes and

socialites talk of art

they wish they understood

and shout poems that

should be memorized quietly. 


and we are standing there

in a daze (a haze)

some apparent lethargic,

lazy gaze at a world (a mind)

that’s been set ablaze!


you and i — redialing God’s

unplugged telephone —

getting stuck on the phrase

“call again at another time”


and we scream! people are

dying and i’m trying to 

understand why i am pouring 

champagne in this man’s


*Poem is based on Édouard Manet’s painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Find more from Sadhika on Instagram

The Floor is Lava by Mark Henderson

It was good training, that game we played:

The Floor Is Lava—when you can’t touch

the ground in your house, using beds, chairs,

and tables to avoid it. How far

you could jump, how well you could balance.

A fitting prelude to The Air Is

Virus—or, crueler still, The Air Might

Be Virus, falling short of certain

and driving you mad, making you learn

how to walk on your hands in latex

gloves and recycle your own carbon

dioxide for oxygen, and read

up on telepathy and astral

projection to visit your parents

who live in another state or sick

loved ones whose chances are hit-or-miss.

Some arcane martial arts might be in

order too, to fight the likes of that

kid who’d learned to make his way around

the house by making the chair he was

standing on hop; by now, he’s surely 

learned telekinesis and can make

the products in the supermarket

come to him with his mind. I’ll bet he

can levitate and generate force

fields too; he was always a show-off.

Emotional Distancing by Pam Benjamin

Looking away is my only form of negotiation

no more terrorism


exploding my own heart

in some 80’s TV movie 


you are not the promised virgin

coquettishly waiting among 72 


versions, DNA coded on a cloud

lounging, standing, wings aflutter



6 feet becomes a canyon



The secret is knowing the difference

between butterflies and trash


but you look like an angel when you sleep

such perfect lips, this youth


I wake in terror, screaming

two white ghosts reflect behind the screen


objective vs subjective they whisper

and I am suddenly afraid of the dark

Find more from Pam on their website, Twitter, and Instagram

Say I Can’t See by Molly Flanagan

I wouldn’t call myself an Indigo child

I’d call myself a Green Child

But not NPR green (and eco-friendly!) 

Or Mar-A-Lago-money green

Wouldn’t go so far as to say mossy green,

Celtic green that runs through my blood,

Just something different from Indigo

Less boho, more FOMO

My dog would call me Red-Grey-Green

If he were to suddenly confound the urge to speak 

And identify me from a lineup of other petty Criminal children of the Vertigo persuasion 

If my dog were a child he’d be a whiny one

He would whine up and down the halls and from

Behind his cage, something you would never find in the house of an Indigo child

Unless it was Bird Cage

Packaged mint in its original VHS tape in the dump

With all the other long-forgotten tapes, along the likes of

The Brave Little Toaster and Babes in Toy Land

Relics of that suburban wasteland we now call 

“The Old Shit Pile Behind The Walmart”

Or, as I like to call it, where green babies are made

Us Green Babies we never get the chance

To live outside of our skin or in terry cloth robes

Somewhere on a beach, the first Makers of the Green Baby retired and died,

Jerry and Pat, probably, they were called

Jerry you fucked it up for the rest of us

Because now we’re Green Babies, in debt babies, no 401k babies

But at least we’re not brown babies

Can jump up and down until we’re all sore babies

Can’t hip and groove like we’re all funky jive babies

Can be color blind and broke and homeless and armed and dangerous and just going for a snack at four in the morning

Can’t be black, and blue, and green (and eco-friendly!) and masked and kneeling,

Face-planting, stemless, into the Indigo Child dream

Palm Trees and fruits I’ve never heard of and 

Gun pops and the Fourth of July and 

Green to buy green

Unless you’re a Dog who’s buying, or shooting, pigs

In a life jacket, floating

Drinking Malibu and praying to the 50,000-seat, all-access pass

Jesus (with special effects!)

Thanking Him and the Makers,

To Jerry and Pat and George and George and Bill and 

Good Old Ron, that we weren’t 

Born Indigo or Purple, or any other color of the rainbow.

Find more from Molly on their website and Instagram

Flocking to Public Space by Jocelyn Ulevicus

Flocking to Public Space by Jocelyn Ulevicus

Find more from Jocelyn on their website

Revelation by  Charles Venable

I slept in the day the world ended.

God descended from the heavens

Declaring He was done with us.


The earth shook. The seas turned red.

McDonalds offered BOGO Big Macs.

Crowds worshipped the Golden Arches.


I slept in the day the world ended.

My manager called, “Didn’t you hear?

But that’s no excuse to skip your shift.”


Already, crews of city workers mended the roads,

Billboards rose, advertising “Dasani: Red”

Crowds complained it wasn’t a public holiday


I slept in the day the world ended.

An old man stood in the middle of the road,

And He told me that He was God.


I offered Him some spare change

Pointed Him to the shelter on Fifth,

Accepting all who were no longer wanted.

Smoking Weed in Sweatpants During a Pandemic by Durell Carter

I bleed Indica on Sundays

While I scream Othello

In sweatpants I promise

I will set on fire

Someday because stains

Find homes where 

Pride goes to die

And moths prove

That resurrection 

Is cute in theory 

But death breathes

Because she never loses

And destruction exists

Because life does sometimes

Suck the wind out of

Revivals and your grandmother’s 

hallelujah and peppermint candy

gnawing grandbabies 

dreams where blue is 

obsidian and hope is

pending on financial standing. 

Find more from Durell on Twitter

Quarantine Assistance Website by Nirdishtha Sapkota

Quarantine Assistance Website by Nirdishtha Sapkota

Find more from Nirdishtha on their website and Instagram.