#FlattenTheCurve: Proceed with Caution by Connie Post

1280px-3D_hand.stl

Assume
everything is contaminated

assume every surface
you touch
holds an invisible illness

you can spread it
without knowing

you are asymptomatic
but everyone
turns away

they can tell
that fear mutates
as quickly as a virus

the earth
whispered in your ear
long ago
“I will find you
I will find a way
to tell you when I’ve had
too much”

so you spend your days
looking for your own
antibodies
you search for them
in the soil
where you know
you will someday return

you sanitize your thoughts

you don’t say anything to anyone
but you’ve had a sore throat
for fourteen days

the earth is having trouble breathing

there are no more ventilators

 

 

Connie Post served as Poet Laureate of Livermore, California (2005 to 2009). Her work has appeared in Calyx, One, River Styx, Slipstream, Spoon River Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Slippery Elm, The Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily. Her Awards include the 2018 Liakoura Award the 2016 Crab Creek Review Poetry Award and the Caesura award. Her first full length Book, Floodwater,  won the Lyrebird Award. Her second full length book, Prime Meridian,  was released January 3, 2020; both published by Glass Lyre Press.

#FlattenTheCurve: Living the days of Corona by Connie Post

1200px-Hand_in_water_at_the_Blue_Grotto

The numbers change
by the hour
I check the web site
too often

I tell myself not to
watch the news
all the time

I wipe down my counter
instead

after dinner
I find a new graph
on the trajectory of deaths
in my region

I watch the curve spike
and see small images of people
falling off the back

like that scene in
Titanic
when everyone
fell off the ship

some to the ocean
some to the decks below

some plummeting
some holding on
some lonely
when the water
froze their stories in time

I try to sleep
all my meditation songs
fall below my bed

someone is being infected
someone is short of breath
someone remembers a prayer
they said when they were young

 

 

Connie Post served as Poet Laureate of Livermore, California (2005 to 2009). Her work has appeared in Calyx, One, River Styx, Slipstream, Spoon River Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Slippery Elm, The Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily. Her Awards include the 2018 Liakoura Award the 2016 Crab Creek Review Poetry Award and the Caesura award. Her first full length Book, Floodwater,  won the Lyrebird Award. Her second full length book, Prime Meridian,  was released January 3, 2020; both published by Glass Lyre Press.

#FlattenTheCurve: Throughout the Day by Martin Willitts, Jr

640px-George_Bellows_-_In_a_Rowboat,_1916

I cannot hold any moment for long —
a slur of birds,
arriving from the brink of all beginnings.

After-sounds of birds or remnant rain
tugged my bell-rope life —
unsettling large wings.
arriving at this empty afternoon.

Light’s after-spill,
shimming a fox’s tail,
brushing stars and
reverberating crickets,

a chorus of returning lamb bells.
It is late — an intersection
between decisions and actions,
already leaving over the horizon.

Darkness is rowing this way.

Moonlight sonatas,
veins of natural light, straining:

too late, the oars are whispering.

 

 

Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award winning, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 19 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019 winner, The Temporary World. His recent book is Unfolding Towards Love (Wipf and Stock, 2020).

 

Painting by George Bellows. 

#FlattenTheCurve: Through the Window by Shalom Galve Aranas

Jenn's window art

I look through the window
and find my favorite tree
the one not felled in front
of a small, newly minted school,
It is flailing in the wind
reminding me of a street lined
with many acacia trees
just like this one.
I pray something like a sun salutation
at high noon
only I am still like the sun
because I am tired
of the news of deaths
and living seems a crime
recalling your pure Italian smile
and how you never called
anymore.

 

 

Shalom Galve Aranas is a freelance writer published in Stereo Stories, The Literary Heist, The Blue Nib and elsewhere. She is a loving, single mother of two.

 

Art by Jenn Zed.

#FlattenTheCurve: Numbers Game by Kari Gunter-Seymour

800px-School_girl_studying

If you’ve never seen a squirrel skitter
across an electric wire, or a dove who waits,
you may not understand my twists of thought.

Let’s just say your daughter
turned 10 this week, or as I’ve learned
9 ones and 1 one, or 8 ones and 2 ones,
or 7 ones and 3 ones, you get the drift.

Ten is no longer just 10, it’s part of
a bigger, more susceptible fact family.
Math problems are no longer just problems;
they’re number bonds, multiplying
by integers of coughs and sneezes.

You may think the president raises his hand
because he has an important message,
is actually paying attention, wants to clarify a point.

On the ground, a shiny quarter,
its fat nosed profile taunting.
Do the math.

Corona-chameleon survives on metal
ships up to seventeen days.
1 one take away 1 one still equals zero,
zilch, nada, graveyard.

What else has gone sideways while I stood
staring at hay fields, and fencerows, bumblebees
and butterflies, flocks feeding?

 

 

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s newest collection, A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, is forthcoming from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2020. Her work can be found in many fine publications including Stirring, Still, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag, The American Journal of Poetry, and The LA Times, as well as on her website: http://www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. She is a retired instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and Athens, Ohio Poet Laureate Emeritus.

 

Photograph by User:Mattes.

#FlattenTheCurve: Inside Out Abecedarian: Day 21 by Beth Gordon

800px-Woman_in_a_dark_room_looking_to_a_mac_computer

Magic mirror on the wall don’t speak,
not now when my face is unfolding like tired
origami. Outside, robins are breathing easier.
Preening. Packs of rabbits emerge from grass,
quietly. Quoting St. Francis, this circle of tails +
revolution + raindrops: I say forgive us. I say,
stay, stay. You can’t hear behind your glass:
that’s treefrogs singing. And bull frogs
unearthed, ugly and croaking hymns.
Valium? Verily? The creek is drowning my
words. Without them I am as ordinary as death.
Xtinct. Xtinguished. Yes, I’m losing letters.

Yes, you too. Until the body count is
zero, zero is all we can ask for.

Listen lovely world I miss you. My days
kite-less. Kitchens have become cinnamon
jails, jails have become morgues.
Inside, imagining oceans in my ears,
helpless hallelujahs swallowed by gulls.
God goes here.
Fireflies + felons tucked inside his pocket,
every elusive prayer climbing cherry trees.
Dying doesn’t scare me. Dimes-stores & daises.
Chamomile cicadas chimes & crossword puzzles.
Birdhouses. Behind my glass I sing row the boat
ashore. All I have is this: this is everything.

 

 

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart and the Orison Anthology. She is the author of two chapbooks: Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe (Animal Heart Press) and Particularly Dangerous Situation (Clare Songbird Publishing). She is Managing Editor of Feral, Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press and Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.

 

Photograph by Beercha.

#FlattenTheCurve: On Immunity by Tim Kahl

Flock_of_birds_at_Rome.ogv

The sky is falling, but the birds still fly
through it. I hear their regiments pass
overhead and wonder what their quarrel is.
Do they simply take orders from their own
blood? Their instincts serve them
like a parade serves a city.

Those garrulous starlings in the morning
seem to be making plans. They commandeer
the new recruits to battle the latest virus,
which my friends and I barely noticed.
There must have been panic as
the flock dissolved. Questions were vollied.
What bird reason did they apply
or was all the chatter about food?

They see us in quarantine down below
and frown on our obsession. Where was this
worry when the last wave hit us? they inquire
. . . or do they merely casually observe
and leave us to our knitting, our fretting
that we might suffocate on our lung pus,
a death as dignified as choking on vomit.

Our overactive immune system will do
us in, sunk by our defensive posture.
While we hunker in the bunker, the birds
are catching wind and halting their laments.
Good God, how the waterfowl are laughing.
They’ve seen this movie before. They
mythologize the last birdseye view on
the world. Everything gone and one god-like
vision floating above, a god who understands
death cannot be considered an event in life.

 

 

Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) The String of Islands (Dink, 2015) and Omnishambles (Bald Trickster, 2019). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Mad Hatters’ Review, Indiana Review, Metazen, Ninth Letter, Sein und Werden, Notre Dame Review, The Really System, Konundrum Engine Literary Magazine, The Journal, The Volta, Parthenon West Review, Caliban and many other journals in the U.S. He is also editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He also has a public installation in Sacramento {In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth}. He plays flutes, guitars, ukuleles, charangos and cavaquinhos. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes.