Quarantine Tales Week 6

Viral Belies by David Walsh

Piano sonata sings from the family room. Woodpecker raps for food in the back woods. Train rings on rails across the valley. Neighbor’s television garbles a game show. Thunder rattles through the shingles overhead while rain taps on the bedroom window. Garbage truck rumbles along the pavement, stops to crush the trash into its dumpster.  Kids and bikes splash their way through growing puddles. The clothes dryer beeps its closing message.


daily soundtrack

belies the bacterial barricade

of four walls and a roof

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A Small Return to Normalcy by Patrick Schiefen

The red     slowly fading from the paper lanterns

swinging from the lane houses’ eaves

outside my window;


I haven’t seen anyone for days.


A lantern fell to the ground this morning.

Over my coffee I watched the wind occupy itself


rolling it back and forth      back and forth

until it became as bored as I’ve been.


Now outside, the breath 

from beneath my imported face mask
is fogging up the lenses of my glasses.


I have my neighbor’s lantern in both hands.


For the first time I’m noticing 

the current of golden embroidery

moving around in quiet waves


as if this was an ordinary season in Shanghai.


I hang the lantern back up.

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“Little Bill” by William Fillmore

“Little Bill” by William Fillmore

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After-Swarm by Holly Allen

I’ve begun to see my home

for what it is-

an apiary.

The cold corner by the bathtub 

I sit, scrubbing. Scouring the 

dull, dead flakes of faux-porcelain

and cheap linoleum that I outlived

once again.

Here I scrape out the bad brood,

here I wait

for some lucky Wednesday we’ll tumble

in the hard water together to pass some hours.

I stand at the kitchen sink.

We’ve lost fifteen minutes

or more

to hating one another again,

to accusations over royal jelly,

over nothing-at-all.

I made the wallpaper tremble with 

the bluntness of my words.

Rinsing out a sorry mug,

the accusations come

tumbling out again 


I am an 


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Venlafaxine (Generic) by Elizabeth Bluth

And they are working, she asks me,

the pills?


How do I tell my doctor that 

in the midst of total chaos my pills have become

almost useless

mostly taken so that I do not feel the side effects

of not taking them

so that I can still try to live

even if I do not feel like doing so today

or tomorrow


the dreams in which I shred the skin off

my own face

or I am endlessly chased

by a hooded figure

until he pins me to some icy,

pinpricking wall and I scream into 

the abyss 

of my own nightmares


the anvil-like pressure on my chest

has returned when I awaken

and I awake in the night 

coated in the excretion of my own sweat

but I can still rise

with difficulty

and pretend to muster up an appetite


I could increase them

but what would that really do

when existential dread and the bleak reality 

of a multitude of deaths ignored 

by those that could affect 

real change if they cared to

surrounds us all


The pills may change the chemistry in my brain,

but they cannot change the world in which 

I am trying

to live


But I tell her yes. They work.

As best as they can 

for now.


Please do not worry about me.

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Child Sitting in the Time of Pandemic by Brad Garber

About pull-ups and boiled eggs

Barbie’s pink bus, over and over

Pikachu on the prowl, inside

outside, spraying the air plant

feeding ducks and squirrels

Puffs and fizzy tea and cheddar

Goldfish, bath-time, more tea

inside, outside, spraying windows

reading “Possum Come A-knockin”

more of Barbie’s pink bus

bread thick with butter, Chapstick

Grandma’s typewriter (



Grandpa’s typewriter (


Maybe a nap?? More tea

“Mouse” riding on the model car


Let’s watch the squirrel.

Spraying the bicycles, lettuce

Where’s Gramma?


Yogurt and blueberries, yum

Maybe a nap?? Gatorade, out

of tea and Goldfish and art paper

pink marker running out of ink.

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“Shelter-in-Place Still Life #15” by Jeremiah Gilbert

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The Bright Side and The Bleak Side by Jill Caporlingua

The bright side and the bleak side,

That’s just where we are right now.

A kind, generous gesture,

Let your children run in my backyard…

A news report, 12,000 dead.

The curve rising. 

Let your tears flow in our houses.

Strangers gather a desperate harvest,

To feed all the hungry.

Artists’ brushes strike with fire,

Colors explode and eyes fill with the strange visions they offer.

Musicians strum and sing,

Songs of love, songs of loss, songs of freedom, songs of death.

The best of us and the worst of us sleep side by side.

Our darkest greed and our boundless generosity, become strange bedfellows.


Life locked down, frozen.

The streets are dead empty and the hospitals full.

Stay inside, stop moving.

It’s not safe out there. 

Distance yourself. 

Now we have time to spend alone, to spend together.

Days flow together in a jumble of confusion mixed with tiny peak moments.

I saw children in face masks with rubber gloves, dancing down the middle of Magnolia Street, 

As a fiddle played a jubilant tune.

I look out my window at the expanse of sky, 

Beautiful, dark tones of grey.

On the bleak side, we may be in this bunker for a very long time. 

On the bright side, we may be in this bunker for a very long time. 

That’s just where we are right now.

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And We Are The Keepers by Catherine Felty

Until the time,

explain it – snows,

spring came running,

the paint – Miró’s


In waltzed the wild,

illogic’s fray,

as emerald smiled,

O crooked day!


Hidden within

the trumpet’s cry,

our mirrors were cracked,

all hope was lie


And silence spoke,

while sun – it rained,

so came the lion

that would be tamed

Diamante for Italy by John Langfeld


isolated, protected

believing, hoping, praying

therapeutic, decreed, unshackled, free

mending, renewing, assuring

curative, enlivened


The Silence by Steve Davison

the desperate voice and the calming voice

the clack of the headset into its base

the back and forth of footsteps on the carpet

the gasping and the grasping-at-hope voice


the rising Doppler wail of sirens

the rattle of the gurney wheels on gravel

the desperate voice and the reassuring voice

the rattle of the gurney wheels

the slamming of the double doors

the ululating siren all around

the rattle of the gurney wheels on tarmac

the urgent shouting of the nurses

the slam of swinging double doors

the curses of the doctor muffled under mayhem


the wheeze of the ventilator

the muted voices behind the glass


the persistent blare of the machines’ alarms

the shouting of the nurses


the seasoned, exhausted I’m-sorry voice

the careful zip of the vinyl bag

the rattle of the gurney wheels on pavement

the squeal of the trailer doors

the “Ready? One, two, three!” of the orderlies

the echoing footsteps on the metal

the crinkling at the setting down

the footsteps on the metal

the scream and slam of the double doors

the clack of the latch bar falling to

the click of the lock

the rattle

the silence

Poetry in Quarantine #3 by Alex Li

It’s gonna be a cold summer.

We are nature’s guests.

Some other platitude to make sense of the filtered light through our dirty windows

– it’s hard to clean the glass on the outside.

I don’t understand this at all.


We dipped paintbrushes into white paint 

and erased five good years of filth. Love? 

The deck is clear, the fence is blank.

The neighbors couldn’t understand how we could be laughing in a time like this,

I don’t know how they heard over the hip hop.


The surgeon general says doom and gloom, more doom and gloom.

Whose world is this?

It’s mine it’s mine it’s mine

Whose world is this?

Keep the music loud, I want them to hear us, we’re not done painting yet and the sun is still up.

A New Kind of Prophet by Carolyn McAuliffe

Americana prays for a new kind of Prophet. The righteous flood gilded temples,

with their land of the free and home of the brave, thirteen stars and the right to bear arms. 

Coked-up charlatans peddle cures to the lepers; disco-gold-grifters hustle the shine of celebrity,

trade in flesh and Sugar-Daddy NDAs. 

Network chatter cuts to the bone, touts Taj Mahal-moxie-miracles with a Jonesy 

lemon-lime twist. The Year of the Rat played the Prophet, gifted red ribbon patents and paper lanterns.

Pearly white-pundits lament melting-pot annexation, the rapists and thieves and MS-13.

Midnight tweets rustle and rouse 5G story-beats, Ephedra-frenzied-Murdoch-buzz—

fireside fodder for the famished rust-belt rebellion. Losers and lapdogs, enemy of the people;

XiPing. Tedros. Barack Hussein Obama.

Monday-morning militia draped in stars and stripes, decry the great hoax, rattle and rage: 

Don’t tread on me —to a garbled loop of My Country Tis of Thee.

Cytokine storms give rise to mea culpa collectives; our reluctant penance as we ponder 

the plight of the pangolin. 

We wring our hands in tempo with the sirens’ scream, place our palms together and mutter forgotten

invocations. While grief is held hostage at the foot of the Hudson; backdoor drays stacked high

cry Jenga! no more.

Americana prayed for a new kind of Prophet: we repent knee-deep in burial dust;

we choke out the atelectasis from the bows of our lungs, 

and let the jagged stars spill from our mouths.

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A Sea of Shadows by Melissa Graham

A stone rain pelts the ground.

Leaves and flowers heavy

With the extra weight.

I sigh, sipping coffee.

Feeling heavy thoughts.

I am safe and warm inside.

Feeling isolated.

The rain seems to breathe with me,

Falls in a sea of shadows.

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