Plague Poems by Howie Good
Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), among other poetry collections. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.
The Last of the Avant Garde
What a computer thinks a man looks like,
adversarially evolved hallucinations,
is the kind of shit that just wears me out,
but apparently no one else, their focus
too much taken up with acquiring the essentials –
liquor, guns, hand sanitizer – to even notice
the heart lying in rags at their feet,
or the Magi rafting across the Atlantic,
or the pipers shrilly piping in the background,
an uncanny sound that can be roughly translated
amid the sins of old age, pestilential fevers,
the last of the avant garde as “abracadabra.”
The day was long, but the night is already longer.
I seem to have discovered my shadow side –
a wardrobe with mystery contents. Which isn’t
to say I feel sad or lonely. Rather, I’m noticing
different details; for instance, that the sky
is purple and blue and full of leprous spots.
There’s even a grudging moon. It shines wetly,
like the eye of the Cyclops, now that spring
and its things are closed until further notice.
After the Plague
I’ll step into the cold of new geometries, long stretches of emptiness bequeathed by tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. There’ll be decaying leaves scattered on the floor like notes from the kingdom of the sick, and the radio will play party songs from the sixties that, after our months of listening to liars, will sound unintelligible. I’ll feel rather than see the close proximity of broken oaths and blood debts. All around us, the world will gratefully resume its ritual practices, preferring old familiar crimes to novel diseases. Night will end, only to begin again, a great black coffin.
quarantine nose ring by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz
Tiffany Shaw-Diaz is a Pushcart Prize and Dwarf Stars Award nominee who also works as a professional visual artist. Her poetry has been featured in Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Bones, NHK World Haiku Masters, The Mainichi, and dozens of other publications. Her first chapbook, says the rose, was published by Yavanika Press in 2019, and her second chapbook, filth, was published by Proleteria in 2020.
it’s been nearly six weeks
or maybe ninety (i have, admittedly,
lost track of time) since i left my home
of breathing the air
that you have breathed or touching
the places that you have touched
so i have contemplated,
perhaps a few times,
what it would be like to pierce
with the limited tools
i have in my possession, simply
to shake up
this achingly dull routine
Virus Poems by Paul Koniecki
Paul Koniecki lives and writes in Dallas, Texas. He was once chosen for the John Ashbery Home School Residency. He is the Associate Editor of Thimble Literary Journal.
His books of poetry are available from Kleft Jaw Press, NightBallet Press, Dark Particle Press, and Spartan Press.
was to now
an initiate of the disciples
of the less obscure
has this light
What the lens
as we snatch
and hide it in our phones
is whose release
dereliction and radix
is the taproot here?
In the distance
an undertaker stork
has the horizon in it’s bill.
Not the beast of some
love like an answer
but the first small thing
by building space on space
wider than silence
and silence’s desires
as the world drowns
in a mouth
filled with suet and down.
the stars on loan
are an abandonment
Mars and Venus sluicing
the blue-black latticework
praying for all
who remain unnamed
a bit of soul
blenching each new breath
cold skeletons ready
as a dark god wakes
farther and farther
away. Silence tastes of iron
Dressed by touch and feel
the sky holds fast
to gravity and turning
like goings on
going on to the vanishing point
might mean something.
The last sortie to freedom
is captain-less and fell.
Silence, our disaster.
Life is hunger and bombs.
The universe is expanding because
God is a tired parent hiding.
I am a tamasha.
I am a tangent of commotions.
I am a marabou
in three forms
Look, things flying in the air.
Click, click, click.
Save to photos. Forward. Share.
Where the spirit and the body
leave me uncontrol
warm belly of butterfly blood full
and code twitching
the queasiness of final light
setting all about
before the universe implodes back
into a red legume
before you taught
me how to make
your favorite soup.
In the rear view mirror
on the hard-road
of my pupil’s depthless
four words float.
Nothing will touch me.
a chance of bruise
What if Rapunzel were African
and locked in a pyramid? My
wife is growing out her own
corona black natural and high.
I toe the dressed masonry
edge. A stronger wind blows.
My hands are catcher’s mitts.
She cinches us with rope. We
rise as great balloon and slender
tow. She kicks limestone blocks
off one million at a time. Air
notices when water cleans
itself. She is made of heights.
We swim the forethought ragged
and history. Enemies shatter
enemies. She is never post-
traumatic or maybe doubtful
wrong. I could be mistaken. She
requests I pull her harder hair
to help her fall. At rest the smaller
bricks unstack themselves
in the safe dark apple under-
neath a chance of bruise
unsafety of the night.
COVID-19: A Perfect Predator by Michele Mekel
Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats of her choosing: writer and editor; educator and bioethicist; poetess and creatrix; cat herder and chief can opener; witch and woman; and, above all, human. Her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications.
It’s the invisible beast that came for us.
That’s the worst kind, you know—the predator you can’t see.
It’s not like we didn’t know, of course.
We’d had plenty of warning, after all.
It’s just that we’d evolved for a different kind of fiend—lions and tigers and bears and the like.
With those, we knew what best to do: run, play dead, or use a weapon—if it came to that.
It’s the unseen nemesis and its asymptomatic sneak attack that we’re not designed to fight.
Going against our primate nature, the viral vector preys on our contact, our connection, our humanity.
A Death Haiku by Jay Miner
Covid nineteen poem
Poets: stay home forever
Poetry is dead
4 ghosts by Carrie Magness Radna
A fortnight ago,
I woke up, with 4 famous ghosts surrounding my bed:
Emily Dickenson, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. cummings & Clara Schumann—
saying nothing, as if they were on watch.
16 hours later,
as the crowds clapped
for medical workers changing shifts,
I heard the awful news:
4 of my acquaintances.
(3 poets & 1 musician)
had died that day.
(Friend Bob did resemble Ginsberg a bit…)
As of today in New York City, (from Weather.com and NY1 (total)):
New York County: 19,348 confirmed cases; 1,366 deaths.
Kings County (Brooklyn): 39,354 confirmed cases; 3,540 deaths.
Queens County: 44,904 confirmed cases; 3,520 deaths.
Bronx County: 31,659 confirmed cases; 2,335 deaths.
Richmond County (Staten Island): 10,590 confirmed cases; 506 deaths.
Total: 141,754 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 15,411 deaths.
(145,855; 11,267? NY1’s math may not be right,
or did they not count victims in nursing homes?)
Trump touted out bleach & sunlight
as a possible cure for inflected humans.
I predict many more deaths
& ghosts appearing
thanks to stupidity.
As If (For The Michigan Protesters) by Red Focks
You’ll never be cool
but fashion’s an afterthought
and I don’t like you guys
but I support your discourse
because they herd you around
box stores with impunity
taping-off your home & garden
as if covid-19 obeys yellow tape
as if there wasn’t a food shortage
as if gardening was never essential
taping-off spring clothes and electronic gizmos
as if, as if.
I’m not Alex Jones
I’m not saying
The virus is a hoax
But the death tolls are lower than anticipated
Death certificates forged and fabricated
and the elitists have waited for the day
when we thank them for telling us
where we can walk
what we can buy
So to the brave antifascist protesters
of Michigan, I thank you
and fashion’s an afterthought
but maybe take those
stupid fucking red hats off your head
because it needs to be said
that if this happened under the last guy
you’d be bitching and complaining
pinning all of the blame on his black face.
By the way, Flint still doesn’t have clean water.