Kassie Runyan

United States


she loved fiercely

from the body of her youth

now hidden beneath


of padding

a tear rolling

and bumping

over the wrinkles on her cheek

like a rock

kicked down a gravel road

she aged ten years

in only twelve months

and it sat heavy

on her slumped shoulders

and weighed down her breast

hair turned to snow

almost overnight

and divots

dimpling down her legs

as her skin gave away

she reached towards

the mirrored image

trying to grasp the memory

of the girl she used to see



Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

unapologetically set standards,
that allow no-one to lower,
and you will get to where you need
albeit a little slower.
but worth the wait, for quality,
expectations will soon thrive,
and relationships worth waiting for
will soon start to arrive.
standards must be held calmly,
not preached or yelled or screamed,
and sometimes it’s silence needed
for your pride to be redeemed.
remember that their ceiling,
can sometimes be your floor,
and that’s a problem in itself
that you cannot ignore.
so, change yourself for no one,
keep holding your head high,
don’t realign your standards 
When it’s a skill not to comply. 



Gwendolyn A Hobgood

United States


While I was here

Dazed in winter

You were out there

In the sun and rain

And growing

You were growing

I was cut back

Gathering root strength

For heavy petals

And lush summer blossoms

Providing the weather holds


IN 2020

(a Naani poem)

Vidya Shankar



An already masked world

Strife with mistrust

Went grudgingly behind masks

Wary of friends, foes



Jilna Jannath K V



The bereft blue of his eyes was the

last image that I had owned of him.

The scurry strolls of my languid heart

in the long cold verandas of the hospital 

had seized by his last withdrawing call.

My positivity theories heaved their 

reverse rhythms when he rushed to me 

to say that he ‘tested positive for covid.’

My belly chose to burst out silently 

Like heavy cramps for the stroke of

being rejected to see his burial.

I shed the last of my tears before the

conscious knowledge of the news 

on the spread of VIRUS!


He left, 

Without struggling too much.

But what he left beside me 

sucks my nipples and crawls upon me

to flutter my perfectly layered Sari patches.

Tiny fingers hovers around my hands 

to make a feathery clasp of comfort.

I smells of milk and baby powder 

in this vivid month of March.

In those tiny footprints visible in 

the corridors of my house,

I build mansions of tomorrows.

More importantly,

I had freshly bloomed frangipani 

flowers in my courtyard,

this year!



Dedication: For all those single parents who lost their partners during this pandemic.



Sangita Kalarickal

United States


Many glances stolen

Smiles that were crutches

A wee, token happy word

Yet now we stand here

Deep in our travels from 

Whence the journey spurred

Time is the judging quicksand

Comfort zones redefined

And warm fuzzies stay

Why look at adventures

When mundane looks safer? 

Daily chats of groceries

Daycare and pencils

Replace songs and stories

Painting shades of candor

Time is the judging quicksand

A winter to follow autumn

Summer to chase a spring

A year rolls over and yet

another, again, repeats

Sameness pierces and 

The difference tears apart

Time is the judging quicksand

I stand at the end 

Of a warping driveway

Over myriad images lurking

in the mirage air

Watch the story evolve

Questions loom

Tell me someone

Will it all dissolve?

Time is the judging quicksand



Martina Robles Gallegos

United States


The year 2012 was a miraculously bloody one.

Three ladies and a gentleman faced strokes, tumors, 

facial paralysis, and aneurysms and all survived, although 

some barely.

Two beautiful, kind women siblings, my wonderful cousins,

underwent brain surgeries in the year 2012. Their survival 

became two more miracles in the Robles Clan.

In mid summer of the same year, it was my turn to face 

near death, compliments of a hemorrhagic stroke, an event 

nobody expected me to survive, but I beat the odds, again.

My survival required brain surgery, but I never knew 

anything because I was completely intubated and hooked 

to all kinds of machines, science at work, and the sacred 

hands of an amazing neurosurgeon and divine intervention.

When I was in medically-induced coma, I enjoyed desert storms 

and lush lawns, bunny statues, and a Mariachi Band. 

I even told a priest what he could do with his Last Rites.

I saw people who were never there, and people I didn’t want 

to see, for all the harm they’d caused me.

When I got home, I learned a sibling had been in the hospital 

at the same time as me, but with a partial facial paralysis.

Towards the end of the year, I underwent a heart 

procedure to seal a hole in my heart. Another amazing 

cardiologist performed the successful surgery. 

I became known as the miracle warrior, but that was just 

the beginning of the real nightmares that happened 

in the year 2012 and followed.



Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom


Over the years,

I’ve watched them come and go,

All the people that I once used to   know,


Those that left,

But made their mark,

Created a spark,

Ignited a flame,

That lit this old heart of mine,


Now and them I look back,

And I remember the time,

When the company of strangers,

Was enough to shine a light,


An illuminating glow,

Sunset to sunrise,

That’s the way life,

Sometimes goes,


So it is,

The circle of life,

The way it always was,

The tender calm,

Utter poetry,

The world spinning in motion,

In complete synchronicity,



Joshua Factor

United States


It’s full of tribulations you never see coming

but it’s nothing you can’t handle.

from the moment you come into existence, you see it.

the oppressors in school, the constant struggle to pass tests

or even muster.

sometimes, even just making it home in one piece can be a challenge.


but you grow, evolve, adapt to the point where nothing fazes you.

before long, you’ve become solid a rock,

ready to take on the world and whatever it throws at you

and then it all gets taken away as the well-nigh impossible

task of obtaining steady work comes into play.


from there, it’s all about planning for the future.

iras, 401ks, it’s all there to confuse the hell out of you.

but you make it, maybe find the right girl and make an

honest woman out of her.


she provides you beautiful offspring and you’d sooner tap

dance in a mine field before you let anything happen to them. before

long, their cuteness evolves into a screaming match but you

always reconcile in the end, knowing they only scare because they care .


eventually, they start their own families, and the nest is just you & her

enjoying the golden years at some facility in boca. you sit there, soak

in the true reality of existence and remember, at the end of the day, it was

all worth it.

because it had to be.



Neal Whitman

United States


on the rising tide

the ocean is calm 

we check our rigging

turn the windlass

and lift anchor

we rise and fall with each swell

it will now be up to us

how we handle the wind

one year after the storm

after a willful veering 

away from our old ways

we were rescued

a white dove 

perched on the mast

circled the azure sky

and returned with a mate

a blustery ode 

followed by a wisp of wind

awakens the breeze

the bubbling of waves


a shanty-like melody

through a spyglass telescope

we can see land

a beacon flashes 

as bright as the sun

we enter a harbor.

there on the dock to greet us

a beautiful woman

holds a placard: Welcome! 

we have arrived, port of call

the Coast of Bohemia



Judy DeCroce

United States


what’s next?

sorrow hasn’t finished yet

a beginning set in time

it can’t be worse than now

young, dead, too young,

a love of me, of animals

gone by fates trick

Once, I asked my husband, 

(he of a farmer’s wish)

what to do—what if?

never, he said, not now

then a laugh, 

a turn away

but now…

across the pasture his cows–

now, mine





Abi Hayes



This year has left me standing in



longing to feel the weight of


higher and higher I rise

looking down on a World

unsteady on its feet,

balancing on the edge

of a virtual trapeze

and then I hear you calling


the soft landing for my body to fall in

so, I plant myself into the earth of you

bury deep within the roots of you

and in all this yearning

I’m finally learning

being grounded 

doesn’t need to mean




Sonia Pal

United Kingdom

It started in December 2019 from Wuhan-a city in China
The Virus was stronger and more ferocious  than a hyena

Soon the virus spread in Italy and Spain
There was death, tears, anxiety and pain

Some lost jobs, others were furloughed and ran out of money
Hand wash, masks, sanitizers became precious like ‘Honey’

Panic grocery shopping at the supermarkets
And Life came to a full stop without any targets

Schools were closed, children had to learn with their parents
Shops, roads, parks, pubs, parties even friends; all became

missing combatants

Rainbow drawings on the windows cheered up the Heroes
Every Thursday at 8 P.M the nation clapped for its superheroes

Kind people donated and volunteers helped
But still the situation was a tough one to be dealt

When the nation was struggling to find loo-rolls!
Captain Tom Moore created history under his tree-rows

While there was turmoil, shocks and pains unexplained
Industries were stopped and nature’s purity was regained

Life’s lessons were thoroughly explained
And Out of despair, Hope still sustained

Scientists worked hard and injections were invented
People followed the rules in letter and spirits till it ended

What a year it was with COVID-19!



Doreen Arnoni

United Kingdom


Skies glowing red.

Awakened from bed.

Next morning, we read

The number of dead. 

Yellow sunflowers

on the wall. Happiness 

has come to call. 

We stumbled but

we didn’t fall. 

Then came the day

when moods were grey

Another woman came our way

and soon my father

went away. 

The envy in my heart 

was green, when other

families were seen

having each other

on whom to lean. 

But green was re-birth

in a different place. 

All alone, but at last

a smile on my face. 

Along came love,

all rosy and pink. 

This is forever,

at least that’s 

what we think. 

Not alone this time,

the children were mine.

The white painted walls

told the world we were fine. 

The second time,

the pink was muted,

but it was love

that none disputed. 

Violet is the pride for me

In the dedicated teacher

and the PhD. 

Two sisters, different as can be

My love for them in all I see. 

Black is not a welcome hue. 

It tears your soul

and clouds your view. 

A child is gone. 

This pain is new. 

The circle of life comes 

back to red. 

Strength and courage and

sometimes dread,

are all the colours of

the life I’ve led.



Kate Skidmore


In a year 

—Strum Strum 


In a year 

—Drum Drum


In a year

I went from silence

—Nothing to say


In a year

A dam burst open 

Now I’m flooded 

with SO much to play


In a year

Songs started pouring out

Words captured emotions that flowed 

wanting to be sung 


In a year

I started trying to capture

what I wanted to say

Only this time I added a melody


Now I have songs to sing and stories to tell

In a year’s time I have 

Tapped into a part of me 

That is my deep well


Do you want to hear 

the results of what flooded out

in my experiments 

after only one year?

Check out my two song EP called Flooded by Skipping Stones on ITunes and Spotify.


Every river that flows 

begins with a single drop of rain.


For me? I’d say Flooded 

is a great place to begin 

— in a year —

I’ll say it again 

— in a year —




Let the songwriting begin



Julie A Dickson

United States


In a year, what has become clear

is how much the world makes less sense;

strange weather, election, insurrection.

What matters is different, as pent up

anger and fear dictates action, reaction

to race and rights, causes some to fight,

retain or regain, so as not to regress to

earlier times; in a year, common are crimes

of looting as well as an increase in shooting

at shopping centers, schools, city streets,

is this what greets our children in years to come?

Have we become like this in a year?

It seems to have spiraled, escalated issues;

people are more riled during pandemic,

issues piled up on faces under masks.



Koyel Mitra



I often dream of a world

free from the grisly horror of the pandemic,

a Utopian earth with youngsters

holding the hands of the senile

in times of utter helplessness.


My rainbow-tinted fancies

surge as I see an abode,

where people breathe in fresh air:

their hearts beat to the music

of happiness and capillaries flow with peace.


In the year I would like to see

an Elysium where there would be

magical trees with silver boughs

and golden fruits to be consumed by all-

rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old.



Jaime Purinton

United States

Armed with bone chilling cold, Autumn silently flies in on a battalion of mist cloaking all in her path.

She wields the influence of darkness and delivers balance once again today and night.

She carries abundance and freedom to let go tucked under her right wing and comfort and transformation tucked under her left wing.

Summer concedes with dignity and shows alliance by displaying a brilliant crimson sunset, taking a step back until next year.



Kanta Roy



a handful of pink cards hails the year

passes teething fire fox dreary days

siren clicks ourselves,

forgotten morning freshness,

numberless patients downtown fleshy wind,

counting restlessly one, two viruses taps,

world at gear of devils cachinnate chips,

life uncertain still round them


steaming up red droplets,

sweaty numbers uprooted eyes,

shut the doors in frontline smuggling lunges,

swallowed river straight, so much eyes,

affordable roundup lockdown for prairie naked folks


callously we're looking back at pinky cards,

rocking endeavors inches their sickness

and further fall from scroll,

swindled pale stars on earth's crepuscular


morning not yet,


when vaccine hits you, they're already gone,

you made Wuhan state to all jungle species,

waiting for Hippocrates period review,

featuring razor sharp, life and return from loose end

and butterflies up the spike’s,

tuning  melancholic D minor

and more than stiller,

shorter the friendliness,  neither have inbox

nor used words extend, for they are dead!

over hashtags visitations ,you just read the pal,

our Father's island collapse, hankering minus lunges:

and the  time o'er hearse refused dead bodies,

cursing ground voltages , lovers' area-controlled balances,

twisted midnight harbored candles,

cognitive hormones bitterly blazes,

went shorter friend list, conversely heads

commune with dead people and

they're malfunctioning laced frame

or loosen numbers memberships laments,

people now familiar with effaced halts,

she, or he, or bairn all 'bout missing

sported stories stopping their stars,

a handful of pink cards in a quirky round up!

are there tenure edited billing nature

or  windy fearful ventures!

numbness, and would've made raven

in diets durations,

-- we're life forwarded death's Fibonacci are just

massive to producing cost,

a journey throughout roundup day's frosts,

pandemic sways,

still people crave more of their places, never mind

world is infected, making war harder,

these lifestyles crescendo hangs,

fighters care attention to call juggling bells,

though we areas deadlines,

commanding war and demanding lands,


damages hedges, can't friends back again

throughout the rules of seven,

September stands against heart,

some are Stuart's parents hiding behind


table shows thistle,

where raindrops  garden never did  stop

studying for walled up hazards betwixt

bounced upon cliffs and

war agents land slipped field,

U-turn maps are still uncertain about lifeboats’


in a year, the fighting steers,

illusive scent doping eyelids,

screaming  flappy barks, in birdie coming thuds:

everyone runs through belly killers,

know that ends nothingness read,

dreaming felony,


but every end has morning turns,

every  darkens poured with shafted lightning

-- dreams rain for sunny morning…



Laura Trimble

United States


Could I have believed it, I wonder,

if you had told me two years ago, for

the better part of two years’ crisis

we would smother half our faces

from each other’s gaze? Could I

ever have imagined such a life?

No. I would never have pictured

how, with every face half covered

in an encounter, I’ve never not seen

the face complete, its both halves plain,

so fully in the eyes does molten

soul brim over hundredfold.



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom


It's been a year...
Since I published my book
Since I began writing again
Since I learned more about poetry
And the online world that existed

It's been a year....
Since I've been working from home
Since we've all been in lock-down
Since my toddler began walking
And saying stuff to me!!

It's been a year....
Since our family life changed
Since my mum needed care
Since I'm juggling everything
And the poetry kept me sane!!

It's been a year....
Since deliveries became popular
Since we traveled to more shops
Since we explored new places
With my walking talking toddler!!

It's been a year....
Since we experienced strange times
Embellished in new discoveries
Treasured our family time
Appreciated our natural surroundings
Acknowledged the simple life
Recognized our will to survive
Embraced the quiet times
That changed EVERYTHING in our lives!



Claudette Martinez

















I knew you before

   your heart was        

battered and torn,

before your brain was clouded and worn.


I knew you before

   your hands and words would shake,

when there wasn't the need to lasso your soul and pull you awake.


I knew you before

   you were bones and skin, when you'd do anything, fight to the death to win.


I knew you before 

   your sorrow carried for all to hear,

when we shared countless tears, 

before all those years.


I knew you before 

   anguish and pain,

when your spirit was raw, open

  for all to see,

nothing to hide your heart

  open and free.


I knew you before 

   we fell to the floor feeling

  nothing no more, 

when we closed the door

  locked it with grief,

and left with no chance

  of reprieve.


I knew you before.



Lewis Gentilella

United Kingdom


If you are with loved ones on Christmas day
With somewhere warm and cozy to stay,
Spare a thought for the homeless tramp
Who must stay outside in the cold, wet damp,
With no place to call home
And only pavement to roam.
People will judge
But they have endless miles they must trudge,
Wandering the street,
Begging just to eat,
With no one to show them love
They have lost all hope in the almighty up above.
No presents to unwrap,
Searching through bins for scraps,
No festive cheer,
Just a lonely tear,
No carol singing
Or bells ringing,
No kiss under the mistletoe
Or having fun out in the snow,
Wearing boots with worn out soles
And old tatty clothes that are full of holes.
The bitterly cold, dark nights,
Bring with them such a harsh, chilly bite,
With only a cardboard box for a bed
And no comfy pillow to rest their head,
No place for them to stay warm,
They lay their praying it does not storm.
Feeling forgotten
After hitting rock bottom,
Drinking to forget
Painful memories making them fret.
This Christmas let us help get them off the streets

And give them a place to stay with a Christmas dinner to eat.



Carolyn Chilton Casas

United States


I didn’t really care if my weight

had inflated this past year;

at least it wasn’t obvious

in my uniform of comfort—

yoga pants, cotton tees,

and the turquoise sweatshirt tie dyed

by my daughter.


Shown the evidence,

I finally conceded how I’d dealt

with this year’s sadness—

by attempting to fill that hollow pit

with sweets and second helpings.


Soon after, I made a pledge to walk

at least two miles every day and

cut out munchies between meals.

It has been two weeks now;

the pantry snacks lie untouched,

but I have yet to lose a single pound.


Today, hiking our hilly roads,

I hear a truck coming

around the bend from behind

and start to jump swiftly to the side.  

Just in time, I look down,

see where my feet are headed,

twist my body mid-air, landing

close to where I’d left the asphalt.


On sun-warmed gravel—

camouflaged, primitive patterns

freshly painted coil of clay—

hissing, shaking his tail,

chastising as he flicks his tongue

in and out in warning, as if to say,

Watch out, you nearly trampled

on my precious skin!



(escaping the newly minted German Democratic Republic to ‘The West’)

Rose Mary Boehm



Mother didn’t use a compass. Had no money for guides.

Asked local folk the way and they were wrong.

We were going home—across barbed wire and machine guns

in the hands of the border police. From one Germany

to another. The architects of peace, or so they called

themselves, had thought it best.


The night was almost black, the stars reluctant

to expose our naïve progress. Against their weak light,

we made out a forked path, a corpse and a bent figure.

An old woman was sitting on a tree stump, crying noiselessly,

on her lap a small chest. She’d been left behind by a group

guided by professionals. Too slow and cumbersome.

They didn’t return her money.


In the brief flames of matches we found a place

to wait for true nightfall. My head on my schoolbag

I smelled woodruff, saw the silhouettes of snapdragon,

heard a frog croak and splash into a small, starlight-reflecting

pond. We opened our hands and received shards of candy

from the old woman’s small trunk.


When we moved on and climbed up an embankment,

we were received by the sharp clicks of safety catches.

The two young East German policemen accepted the old woman’s

coffer filled with cigarettes, accompanied us to the border,

opened the barrier. A few meters further: the American checkpoint,

handshakes, light, warmth, coffee, and smiles.



Kathleen Chamberlin


I look into the eyes of my dogs, open and trusting and filled with love

Telling me no matter the clouds surrounding me, they are by my side. 

I look at the rainbow stretching across the sky 

After black clouds have unleashed their torrents of rain

God's promise never again to destroy the world with water.

I watch the sun break the horizon, slowly climbing to the zenith of the sky

A reminder of each new day's  infinite possibilities. 

I embrace the delicate hues of the evening, 

Softly shading the deepening night

As crickets creak their lullabies.  

I look into the eyes of my grandson, innocence and joy combined, 

The promise of all that can be

And I smile,  knowing all is not lost in the chaos of today, 

For in his face, I find hope.



Lisa Reynolds


In bed, we share space like strangers on transit;

not touching, not speaking, just present.

Time ticks while we lie here - 

you now asleep, me listening to you breathe.

Come morning, the sun will brighten dark rooms,

the smell of coffee will fill cool air,

but this barrier between us will remain.

Who will break through first and journey alone?



Richa Sharma



In the coming soon

the grass will have grown 

where I once stood bare feet 

but the memory, the ground holding on

In the coming soon

my grief would have boiled out

Its discoloured residue set in place

of a void, a loss that it became about

In the coming soon

I would’ve missed the train

that all want to board at the earliest possible 

Come, find me à pied along the walking lane

In the coming soon

If I am still pottering around 

I am on my way to break the mold

to do all I can to shock and confound

In the coming soon 

a year it’ll be for a wound to heal

for my heart to be free of the ache

scraps of redemption left up to steal

In the coming soon 

fewer days by the fire and warmth 

a year lesser in my life with them

Still enveloped in my babies’ arms

In the coming soon 

my lawn, the grass will exert its wild will

I will let it engulf my soul in its blades

entwined in this cocoon peacefully still

In the coming soon

wild will enter the wilderness

I will be under the summer sun

a soaking, awry, invertedness

In the coming soon

wherever I am headed to

words will perhaps still be straight 

even with my compass slightly askew.



Kathy Jo Bryant

United States


Multicolored leaves are falling

Coolness in the air is calling

In a year, from green to golden

Brings this charm with which we're holden

A constant pattern of changing

Our landscapes, rearranging

For the soothing sake of variety

Scenery morphs in its entirety

Nature's wardrobe is in transition

To the perfect delight, of our vision

We welcome the changes with gladness

Field's and orchard's best gift of fatness!

In a year, we look back and ponder

The blessings of joy and wonder

Let's be glad, yet for some things be sober

As we embrace and welcome, October!



Carl “Papa” Palmer

United States


“Thank ya anyways, there son. I appreciate your offer,

how some ever, I don’t reckon I’ll be goin’ anywheres just yet.”

“It ain’t like I’m not beholdin’ to ya, it’s just my Momma, 

rest her soul, didn’t raise up her daughter thatta way. 

Ya know what I mean?”

“Us Duvalls pretty much learnt to take care of our own predicaments, 

ever what life dishes out, with the help of our Good Lord, 

we most usually get her done.”

“I don’t need to tell ya I’m a touch old, but I ain’t useless. 

It just takes me a mite longer to get my affairs in order 

than what it used to.”

“I’m seventy-two years old 

and I’ve been livin’ in this here house for seventy-two years, 

what my Daddy built. Just like most of the houses around here 

in this part of Magnolia Mississippi, family built.”

“I take kindly to your gesture and it was good talkin’ with ya, 

now y’all need to get on outta here 

‘cause this mess ain’t fixin’ itself anytime real soon.” 

“Y’all want to help somebody, 

help them poor folks what live in the shanty part of town, 

over yonder in the Buena Vista neighborhood 

in them there cracker box trailer houses. 

This here flood water’s gonna be terribly high down there.”


“I’ve got some jars of stewed tomaters 

and a bushel basket of fresh okra 

that’ll be mighty good boiled up y’all boys can tote

if you’re headed down that way here shortly. 

We gotta take care of those what ain’t good off as us. 

This here’s America and that’s what us Americans do.”

“Thank ya again for stoppin’ by. 

Ya’ll be careful in that there little boat of yourn 

and may God bless us all in this time of need.” 

“Bye bye now, 

I got my chores still needin’ tended to 

and don’t forget them maters, ya hear?”



Antoni Ooto

United States


Even now in New Delhi

billowing currents of beings

                          acres in flames

                          pyres crowding a change


Both here and here no longer—

souls assemble 

                         locked in a space,

                         locked in a city

                         this time in India.

Gurneys rush in queues,

                          pushing incarnation

                          on a pockmarked field.

Of all the mourners, of all the families

                          waiting in prayer

                          is a young girl.

As her people start to leave

a hand reaches for her

                          and with a head turn

                          her measure begins.

So, when in a gentler time,

                          grandchildren ask

“Daadee, tell us about Bhinda and Noori

                          and the fires in the park.”

She will remember everything

                           because she looked back.

—For the mourners across India (COVID 2021)—



Jane Fitzgerald

United States


The house sits silent and still

Just waiting to be woken up

The owners are far far away

There are long quiet days

When the house is asleep

It's almost dead from lack of keep

The plants are overgrown and brown

The pool is green all around

Where are the children

Where are the toys

Where is the laughter

and shrieks of joy

The house is just waiting,

waiting for them

Its eyes are the windows

They search through the sun

Where are the children

That bring life and fun

The house sits alone and very forlorn

Just waiting, waiting

 to be reborn



Mediums: Acrylics and watercolor on paper

Daya Jaggers

United States