Crow sounds by R. Keith
- Keith is the author of twenty collections of poetry, fiction, and vispo.
His visual art has been presented in galleries in Canada, Malta, and Russia.
March 17, 2020, 1:15pm.
Behind The Gate of Harmonious Interest. Everything seems normal. Crow sounds. Shops look open for business. There are less people than usual. A man passes by carrying a pack of toilet paper. A couple behind with doggy bags from a restaurant. Thanh Ky Grocery only has kaboch sqaush and shallots on display outside. KT Noodle House, closed. Mei Ling Boutique, open. “Wanna…check out the ice cream place?” Ocean Garden Restaurant, open. Wah Lai Yuen Restaurant, open. Rung’s Thai Massage, (I heard this was a brothel) open. Few cars driving along Fisgard street. Old man sits on a bench in front of Fan Tan Trading Company smoking a cigarette. Another man in a business suit passes by. Fisgard Market displays all fruit and vegetables outside like they always do. Five kids with bubble tea stand around on the sidewalk. One of them says “pretty deserted” Music coming out of the speakers on The Gate of Harmonious Interest. Fan Tan Trading Company, closed. Bamboo, Beads & Bling, open with SALE sign in window.
Fan Tan Alley. Heart’s Content, Turntables, Umbrellatorium, Whirled Arts, open. Kid Sister ice cream, Vintage Glamour, Turtle Express Designs (Help wanted), closed. The Alley reaks of urine. The man with the cowboy hat gets in to a van from the Marriot Hotel. Crow sounds. Music from The Gate of Harmonious Interest stops. Smell of cheap cigars in the air. Two girls walking two poodles. Chinese man smoking, nods at me. Note on window of Fortune Art Gallery – closed for two weeks. Two other girls with bubble tea. One has a black lab puppy on a leash. A woman carrying a vacuum cleaner trips on the curb, landing on her knees. Says she’s fine, thanks. Public Parking not quite full. Olo restaurant, closed. Usualy the menu is on the window. No signage. Very few cars on the street. Motorbike passes by.
I bought a small americano so I could use the washroom at Bean Around the World, the barista told me the washrooms are closed to the public. Where to piss? Sitting where the cowboy was before. Crow sounds. Seagull noises. Cross the street into Dragon Alley. In the middle of the alley is a small box where you can take-a-book-leave-a-book. Mass Market Paperbacks. Titles: Iron Gate, Return to Yesterday, An Arranged Marriage, The Moon Flower, Summer of the Storm, The Witches (Roald Dahl?) “I hope I can stay here and not have to go home to Switzerland” Union Pacific Coffee, open. I open the door to the men’s room and someone is inside cleaning. I go use the women’s washroom. The cleaner hasn’t had a chance to work here yet. The paper towel is empty. Students on laptops, hipsters dressed in Value Village drinking kombuchaand flat whites. Outside tables, no one. I sit at the one with the least amount of bird shit. Hide my coffee cup from Bean Around the World. Chickadee sounds. Indian accent asks if I know a restaurant with orange walls and oak tables, he ate there last year. I tell him I have no idea. “Ok, thanks.” Watch ocean breeze sway leaves of potted plants. Humming from some kind of generator from a nearby building. Dog barking.
When people are scared, outside is peaceful. Crow sounds. Another visit to the washroom before I go. Men’s room this time. The floor is still wet. The barista smiles at me as I hide the cup from a different cafe. Back through Dragon Alley. Swiss girl takes photos of other girl who sits on the window sill of a shop that’s closed. Seagull noise.
Venus Sofia Tea Room, closed. Homeless lady shuffles by “These guys are dying soon anyway, we have to make sure…” Van delivers produce to Fisgard Market. BBQ ducks hang in the window of Wah Li Yuen restaurant. A payphone booth beside the restaurant. Gong sound from the speakers on The Gate of Harmonious Interest. Government Street Tattoo, sign says By Appointment Only. Music from The Gate of Harmonious Interest.
Pandora street side of Fan Tan Alley. Man with garbage bag half full of empty cans. Both brunch places closed. Cafe, closed. Pure Lovin Chocolate, open. Lucky Fortune Tattoo, closed. Virtuous Pie, Shanzie’s Biscuits, Turn Up Gym, closed. More traffic this side. Bus #14 stops to drop off passengers. Busy bike lane. More cars, heading over the Johnson Street bridge. Police car siren. Good Fellas Cigars, open. I’m tempted to buy something. Smoking triggers my bronchitis though. #24 bus passes. Swans Liquor Store, open. Swans Restaurant, closed.
Around the corner. The Village Restaurant, closed. Tango Hair, open. Grace Sushi, open. Sour Pickle Cafe, open.
Inside Sour Pickle, I order a glass of OJ, 2 eggs, over easy, bacon, hashbrowns and tomatoes instead of toast. A man at the table in front of me reads a paperback like in the take-a-book-leave-a-book. I can’t see the title. Radio speakers: “take life easy for a while, learn a new skill, finish a project or two. Then to a commercial about donating blood. Lotto Max Jackpot, $23 Million. Bacon smell. The man with the paperback tells the waitress he had to steal a mask from the hospital since none of the stores have any for sale now. Can’t buy them anywhere. He pays and leaves. I am alone in the restaurant eating breakfast in the afternnon. The flat screen tv has a wildlife programme. A group of lions attacking an elephant from behind. Then an aerial view of an african desert. I finish and pay for breakfast. Graffitti in the washroom: “hey guys luv u long time”
Woman at traffic light yelling to no one “get the fuck out of my face you fucking clown!” I cross the street at green and go into Good Fellas Cigars. The man at the counter sells me a Dominican Corona. I jaywalk kitty-corner to Pandora & Store street and plop down on a bench in front of another cafe that’s closed and spark up the Corona cigar. The wind take most of it. I watch a #15 bus pass, a 24, a 14, a 10, taxis, seagull noise. Someone above in an apartment yells “you can’t smoke here!!” I walk a couple of blocks back to where the cowboy was sitting before and finish smoking my Corona until it’s bitter. Crow Sounds.
Quarantine Poems by Kevin Ridgeway
Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and nine chapbooks of poetry including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press, UK). His work can recently be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.
it’s getting crowded in the world:
you can’t even people watch anymore,
because too many people are
already people watching you.
I’m in my underwear outside
beneath a still dark night,
typing away at my computer,
it’s glow kissing my long face,
all of my clothes in the washer
to rid them of potential disease
when a raccoon appears
in the night to ransack
my garbage cans,
He laughs at me while I assume
the position of a wannabe
kung fu badass,
but the little fucker calls a truce.
We’ve agreed to reschedule
our fight to the death to a more
appropriate time than now.
We stare at each other
and I ask him where
he got his mask.
He tells me he was born with it
and that if the world is ever safe
from this virus, he is going
to rip my fucking face off
and hand it to me.
I am putting everyone’s lives in danger in my reckless pursuit
of a happiness that is infected by intellectual pride and the ignorance
of citizens who no longer read in order to understand what’s going on
around them in a fit of hysteria, their fingers pointed in order to shame
courageous souls for even trying to earn a living in a time when people
like me cannot afford a television or a computer to scream at until
I lose myself and everything I ever knew or thought I valued,
but there is an underlying sickness that has yet to be diagnosed
in people I once trusted who wore the masks of righteous men
and women who don’t want to see us in the primal scream
they use to defend themselves in the face of an unmasked fear
not found in any book because it is crawling from underneath
this weary earth, a league of demons telling us to be very quiet
and not to move while they drag people down into the hell
human beings created instead of offering a solution in the face
of a disaster burning inside of foolish hearts as I stay away
from people, places and things, but I cannot escape the racing
twists and turns inside of the human mind and it’s goddamn lies.
This isolation is gonna kill me!
When I isolate I go crazy
and take selfies of myself
in my underwear while
I write far too many
shabby poems! I’m more
afraid of myself than this
killer virus in my ongoing race
to a premature death.
…but I will get through it.
I have taken another fistful
of boner pills so I can fuck
this virus away, and my
roommate keeps thwarting
my half-bored attempts
at masturbation for
the added cheap thrill
of letting go of my cock
whenever he enters
the room without knocking
as he enters the room
while I shoot cum
into my left hand
and wipe it against
the wall of our little
from a world
I really hope
is saved so
I can go out
and get myself
fucked for real.
When He Is Risen by David J. Thompson
David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach. He grew up in Hyde Park, New York, and now, after many years in Texas and Michigan, lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
His interests include movies, jazz, and minor league baseball. His poetry/photography book
Grace Takes Me is available from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, and his latest chapbook Shake My Ashes is available from Alien Buddha Press. A series of 1400 of his postcards is part of the permanent collection of the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois.
No matter what the calendar says,
I think Easter will arrive a little late
this year, and that’s if it comes at all.
I mean, with this virus going around,
I think God will probably tell Jesus
to stay put in the grave, you know –
social distancing and all – until we have
this damn thing under better control.
After all Jesus has been through, I’m sure
God doesn’t want to put his only son
at any more risk than he already has.
So, be prepared to wait for that morning
when he is risen. Let’s face it, not even
Pope Francis himself can be certain that
in these crazy times Easter won’t come
on, say, a Tuesday in June or September.
Best now to hold off on your plans to hide
the eggs, eat chocolate bunnies or glaze the ham;
nobody knows when or what’s coming next.
And, hell, I hope you didn’t give up anything
too fun for Lent because it looks like maybe
this crazy year it might just last forever.
. Hell, I hope you didn’t
give up anything too fun for Lent because,
who knows, it might just last forever.
sonnet to TP with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Joseph a farina
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Several of his poems have been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, Ascent ,Subterranean Blue and in The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in the anthology Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent , and in the anthology Witness from Serengeti Press. He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philedelphia Poets and Memoir (and) as well as in Silver Birch Press “Me, at Seventeen” Series. He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street .
How do I need thee? Let me count the ways.
I need thee single, two ply and to a height
My hand can reach, in places out of sight
For the ends of charmin and royale’s grace.
I want thee far more than needed every day
Most feared need, by corona’s deadly blight
I want thee freely, but will fight for your right;
I need thee purely, as your roll turns in praise.
I need thee with apocalyptical hoarding passion
In my old groans, and with my present hate
I need thee without reason my senses to lose
With my mask in place I love thee without threat,
Smiles, tears, in quarantine and, if WHO choose,
I shall but need thee lesser after death.
Plague Art by Red Focks
Red Focks is an American author, publisher, and folk artist. The 30-year-old lives in Phoenix Arizona with his wife, where he operates Alien Buddha Press. Red enjoys art with undertones of absurdism, cheerful nihilism, and rebellion. In addition to his contributions to Alien Buddha Press, Red has been featured by 17 Numa, Fishbowl Press, Ramingo’s Porch, Horror Sleaze Trash, Winedrunk Press, Transcendent Zero Press, Nixes Mate Pub, Rust Belt Press, Madness Muse Press, The Raw Art Review; his novel ‘Haight’ was published in 2018 by Cajun Mutt Press, and his short story collection ‘The Abandon’ was released in 2019 via Concrete Mist Press, whew his 2020 novella “The Bloody Waste” was also published. Red is one half of the art team ‘Pseudonym Lastname’ and is the head writer of the graphic novel ‘American Antihero”. Red’s other books include ‘Duffy Street & Other Dubious Incidents’, ‘The Philanthropist’s Suicide’, ’36 Haikus and a Horror Story’ and ‘Dead Celebrities’
Virtual toast for St. Patrick’s Day 2020
by Carrie Magness Radna
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie Magness Radna is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a singer, a lyricist-songwriter, and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in the Oracular Tree, Tuck Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, First Literary Review-East, Mediterranean Poetry, Shot Glass Journal, Walt’s Corner, Polarity e-Magazine, The Poetic Bond (VIII &IX), and The spirit, it travels: an anthology of transcendent poetry (Cosmographia: published August 3, 2019) and will be published in Nomad’s Choir, Jerry Jazz Musician and Cajun Mutt Press. Her first chapbook, Conversations with dead composers at Carnegie Hall (Flutter Press) was published on January 18, 2019, and Remembering you as I go walking(Boxwood Star Press) was published on August 23, 2019. Her upcoming poetry collection, Hurricanes never apologize, will be published by Luchador Press. She won third prize for “The tunnel” (Category: Words on the Wall: All-Genre Prompt) at the 69th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (2017). She also won 12th place “Lily (no. 48 of Women’s names sensual series)” by the 2018 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards. She is a member of the Greater New York Music Library Association (GNYMLA), and is a member of the New York Poetry Forum, Parkside Poets, Riverside Poets, Brownstone Poets and Nomad’s Choir. When she’s not performing classical choral works with Riverside Choral Society or New Year’s Eve performances with the New York Festival Singers, or writing art song lyrics with her choir buddies, or traveling, she lives with her husband Rudolf in Manhattan.
Sadness wants to infect
every angry punk song,
every full whiskey glass,
every isolated soul
since all the NYC
bars are now closed
for weeks— my Irish Side
feels airy, unsatisfied
& the annual parade
is canceled for
social isolation & sickness.
(Never went to it due to work,
but now we can’t work for weeks)
& while I wait for my man,
I chill some Angry Orchards
(name brand is perfect for today)
& as I wait for my actual toast,
I send virtual toasts to Facebook
& Instagram, hoping to gain
some needed luck & cheer
today—without 4 leaf-clovers,
the streets are still empty
of people—we all silently
celebrating within sadness
Machinations by Theresa C. Gaynord
Theresa likes to write about matters of self-inflection and personal experiences. She likes to write about matters of an out-of body, out-of-mind state, as well as subjects of an idyllic, pagan nature and the occult. Theresa writes horror, as well as concrete gritty and realistic dramas. Theresa is said to be a witch and a poet. (within the horror writing community).
I’m sick, fatigued, feaverish and losing my vision, yet, a thousand sordid images run through my mind flickering in dingy shades of blues and whites. I toss the blankets from my bed; lay upon my back, feeling the pressure build in my sinuses and head. Eyes tingle, burn like curled up papers along the edges, ears pop; I hear the trampling of insistent feet. Where are the summer songsters? I do not think they will sing to me today. The morning comes to consciousness with the faint scent of coffee brewing in stainless steel pots. Riding the waves of red and yellow blurriness more than a bit obtuse, the shower beats gently upon my tousled hair. Water cups beside medication await me; in a minute there is time. I am Lazarus, come from the dead.