#FlattenTheCurve: Lockdown, Day Three by Ace Boggess

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Sun is out after days of clouds
that left their grief as a parting gift.

I step outside, & pollen marshals troops.
It scratches my throat. I cough &

think, Is this it? Have I died &
not yet figured it out? God,

why does my brain corrupt
a peaceful moment in the light?

Even here in my comfortable prison,
the virus that can’t reach me does

until I panic at a bead of sweat,
a little ache, a misspent breath.

It’s a beautiful morning
to write my own obituary.

Somewhere else, it’s raining—
each drop a survivor of the storm.

 

 

Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—Misadventure, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, Ultra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, and other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming 2021.

#FlattenTheCurve: The Shopkeeper’s Daughter by Yuyutsu Sharma

yuyu tree

In the local tea shop,
my regular haunt

to write fresh poems
each morning in Kathmandu,

I pull a page
out of my sheaf of papers

to let her read what I’ve been
working on since morning.

She looks at it for a second,
then almost uninterested

as if she has made a mistake
twitches her nose

twisting her face eerily
lifts it as a blade against her cheeks

turning the page
with my Corona poem

as a protection wall
to sneeze behind and return

the sullied page
as a fitting token of appreciation

from some cranky critic.

 

 

Recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange, Trubar Foundation, Slovenia, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma is a world renowned Himalayan poet and translator.

He has published ten poetry collections including, Second Buddha Walk,  Annapurna Poems,  and A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems. Widely traveled author, he has read his works at several prestigious places and held workshops in creative writing and translation at  Heidelberg University, Germany, California, Beijing Open University and New York University, New York..

Half the year, he travels and reads all over the world and conducts Creative Writing workshops at various universities in North America and Europe but goes trekking in the Himalayas when back home. Currently, Yuyutsu Sharma is a visiting poet at Columbia University and edits, Pratik: A Quarterly Magazine of Contemporary Writing.

yuyutsurd@gmail.com

#FlattenTheCurve: Pandemic Positions, Tour of TV Stations a Few Weeks In by Laurinda Lind

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It can just, you know, eat
its way through your upper
epithelial layer. We need
thirty thousand of them,
the government has twelve.
That’s officially not a dry cough.
It’s not true about eating
a bunch of garlic. The numbers
are getting so big, I saw
the spirit of heaven descending
like a dove. You’ll be taught
to sit and repeat a sacred word.
You have to call those things
which be not. Think of
the coronavirus as blue paint.
You can go from being chained
to a tank to being free to live
the life you want. The media
has been much nicer, but I
shouldn’t say that. Like
there’s these expectations,
try not to hold any.

3/19/20: Sources: CSPAN, WPIX, AMVO, NEWSY, WPIX again, BIBLE, EWTN, TBN, OWN, RENEW, WVNA, STDIO

 

 

Laurinda Lind lives in New York’s North Country. Some publications/acceptances are in Blue Earth Review, Midwest Quarterly, New American Writing, Paterson Literary Review, and Spillway; also anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press) and AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss and Grief (Radix Media).

#FlattenTheCurve: The Unboxing by David Weinstock

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I’ve never made one of these before, an unboxing video. For a while, everybody was doing them. YouTube was packed with unboxings, and they were quite entertaining. Here’s how they go. They start with a shot of a box, a box alone on a table. And inside the box, you tell us—we hear your voice, although we never see your face—is something you really really want, something you’re excited about. Maybe you ordered it: a new toy, a game, a gadget. Or it’s a gift, but you know what’s in the box. You’re ready, past ready, you’ve been longing for it, dreaming about it, and now here it is, and you’re going to show it to the world.

The video is about you opening the box, slowly, one layer at a time, getting the thing out of the box, reverently, respectfully, giving this precious thing its full measure of your appreciation. Although nobody sees your face, they do see your hands, holding the box, how slowly and lovingly your hands take the thing out one piece at a time, and lay them on the table, and then slowly start to put them together until the thing is complete. All that time you tell us what we’re seeing and why you love it.

Finally, it’s done. You might put in the batteries, or plug it in, or whatever finishing touch, it’s all about touching, but you don’t actually turn it on to demonstrate; that’s considered a bit crass. The last shot is always a triumphant closeup of the thing, ready to make you happy, and you tell us how happy you are.

When we first heard of coronavirus, it sounded manageable, not too scary, and so far away, in China, then Korea, then Japan, then Italy.  And even there, it wasn’t that bad, I mean, hardly anyone was infected, and only two percent of them were dying, and those were ones already pretty fragile, old, or sick with something else, and coronavirus just finished them off.

But things changed fast, and two percent became three percent, and the next day five, and when it got to ten percent, the authorities stopped revealing any numbers at all, but we could all guess that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, were infected. The hospitals were full, the ambulances had nowhere to take you. The masks were sold out, the test kits were used up, the oxygen tanks were empty.

The authorities very sensibly recommended self care, and even self quarantine. Just stay in your room; that’s the best thing, for yourself, for everyone else. Stay home, don’t spread the virus to the rest of us.

Everything was filling up and breaking down, but thank God, thank Google, the Internet stayed up. For us, alone in our rooms, for me,  alone in my room, that was all we had. We sent each other news, and photos, and advice, all the ways we knew: email, text, Facebook, Twitter.

Then one special friend of mine, who lived far away, got the virus, and he told me everything. Almost hourly, he sent messages, until he could no more. It broke my heart but there was nothing I could do.

And things  kept getting worse. The hospices were full. The authorities started recommending “self hospice,” which at first sounded absurd, but they had thought this through, and told you exactly how to hospice yourself.

Now, here is our video. I will do the unboxing, and you will carry the camera and microphone and record it all – thank you. We are walking on a broad sandy beach toward the water.

You see, the funeral homes were full, the hearses were full, the cemeteries, the crematoria were full. For that, the helpful authorities had no further advice.  But people are creative.

So before long, all over the world, after self care, after self quarantine, after self hospice, there came, you guessed it, self cremation.

When it was all over, I went to my special friend’s house, which had burned down around him. With me I brought this box, and a broom and dustpan, and I filled the box with ashes I found. Were they his ashes? Probably some of them were. When I had enough, I closed the box, and brought it home.

And now today, here so all can see, I open it. I walk out into the surf, and here we go, and remember to focus on my hands, I am scattering the ashes. One handful at a time. Until they are all gone. Until there is nothing left but this box.

Get a good shot of the box.

 

 

David Weinstock lives, writes and teaches in Middlebury, Vermont, and leads the Otter Creek Poets open workshop, currently suspended by the plague. His poems have appeared in Riding the Meridian, Moment, Modern Haiku, Burlington Poetry Journal, Zig Zag Lit Mag, 2River View, and oddly enough, The Journal of the American Medical Association. He has been a copywriter for the  L.L. Bean catalog, copy chief at Boston advertising agencies,  and editor for a local Vermont bi-weekly newspaper. He won a residency for Vermont Artists Week 2020 at the Vermont Studio Center, but expects it to be cancelled because of COVID-19.

A Time to Morph

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Welcome to Califragile! With the exception of our #FlattenTheWave Call for Submission, we have paused our online activities while we enter our next phase. We plan to morph into a print anthology in the next year or so.

Since our launch in August, 2017, Califragile has been an online poetry journal publishing work, not in distinct issues, but on a daily, thrice weekly, a peppery basis or as whimsy guided, within the frame of editor Wren Tuatha’s focus, health, and free time. We’ve had the privilege of showcasing hundreds of thoughtful and creative writers from around the world. Some are world famous, others were published for the first time right here. You can enjoy all of these offerings on our site.

Are you a poet seeking to submit? Our submissions are closed currently. You can find great opportunities on Allison Joseph’s blog and Califragile Featured Poet Trish Hopkinson’s blog, in addition to the usual Submittable, Duotrope, New Pages, etc.

In order to keep up with our metamorphosis and future calls for submission, like us on Facebook and visit this site frequently.

The Aftermath by Kushal Poddar

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In every twelve months
she applies Ruby Woo.

It feels moist, moony, a ruse,
and her man walks to the terrace

again, on the railings then, drops a cigarette
and leaps. Every time. In a loop.

The blood streams the darkness.
Darkness clots the blood.

This relationship spins pinning
give and take.

And she ekes the Ruby Woo,
a gift that never forgives the giver.

 

 

Kushal Poddar has authored The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood, Scratches Within, Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems, Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems, and now Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel (Alien Buddha Press).

 

Painting by Gustave Caillebotte.

When Gray Is Beautiful and When It’s Not by Trish Saunders

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I live in a city where ghosts of giant Douglas fir spear
themselves up through grimy sidewalks. These ghosts,
the real cause of winter storms, slip quietly through
cobblestones, looking for osprey that died eons ago.

Winters here never end; gray falls everywhere–
beards on old sailors, pin curls on my grandmother’s tiny
head. Gray is beautiful, I tell her. Trust me, it’s not, says she
In particular, gray pubic hair is ugly. That frontier I have yet
to discover, but I shall, I have no doubt that I shall.

 

First published in Right Hand Pointing.

 

Trish Saunders publishes poems from Seattle and Honolulu and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon. Her poems have been in Califragile, Pacific Voices, Right Hand Pointing, Eunoia Review, among others.

 

Art by Jenn Zed.