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By Virginia Vigliar

in you I learned to love my self
and discover my body’s pathways
in you I cried rivers that I
judged as too dry
whilst you just kept on holding me
in you I fell in love and out of pain

my temple of safety when the streets were a tornado
you watched me dance into the night countless times
and listened as voices raised higher in you as I spoke of
what it feels to be a woman

I lit the smoke of my magic inside your walls
and found the spirited women that lived inside me
the ancestral pain that pressed against my bones
you saw me paralysed and offered me movement
you caught me in confusion and held the space for clarity

everyone who saw you fell in love with your smell
you made a jungle that thrived despite my absences
you never crumbled at the sound of my music,
instead, you made me move with it
in you I found comfort and acceptance of my multitudes

you watched strangers become friends
always faithful
always present
never a judge, always an observer
from you I learned what it means to receive without asking

and in the darkness
you let the light through that reminded me
that we can always be reborn


Author:

Virginia Vigliar is a poet, writer, editor and activist with roots in her pocket. She has made five places her home in the last ten years, and is now based in Barcelona. In her writing, she explores themes such as social justice, human conditioning, womanhood and feminism and believes that writing can speak loudly against violence, sexism and misogyny, and in favour of our bodies, social justice, and respect for our nature. Find her on Instagram @vivivigliar or check out her website virginiavigliar.com.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Notes on the Great Isolation

By Kay-Ann Henry

My day

is

slumbering till my limbs are ready to move

drinking enough water to start a river

dicing the base to the best dishes (skellion and bell peppers).

I stick my head out

for mists of air

arm myself with hand sanitizer

and endlessly walk around at supper time.

I am anxious                                                 I am grateful.

Stillness has made me recognize

a new gnawing in my bones

a seething underneath my skin.

A desire to create the uncreated

to produce gold

haunts us all

like a disease.

But

it’s okay

to be mundane

to be like silver.

I want to reach inside myself

and hug this consuming thing,

quell it.

Tell it all I will do is

obey my nocturnal desires

dance to the music of our now-future

listen to the grumbling of the Metrorail

watch the ritual of trees

and sleep.


Author:

Kay-Ann Henry (she/her) is a queer-identifying Jamaican writer and poet, living in Miami! She is currently attending the University of Miami, studying journalism, sociology and creative writing. She loves astrology, June Jordan and day-dreaming. Find her on Twitter @kaypoetaa_ and Instagram @kaypoetaa_.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

A Beautiful Cremation

By Aleah Dye

I’ll trade ashes

with you.

 

The two of us

are already together,

sweat, skin, teeth,

tears,

 

so why not

the rest?

 

When

we are dead

and gone,

I’ll still want

to hold your hand.

 

It could be

now,

pink flesh dripping,

cheap funeral pyre

in isolation.


Author:

Aleah Dye (she/her) primarily writes poetry, tending towards topics of morbidity, love, social justice, and philosophy. She specializes in the free verse Whitman pioneered. You can find Dye’s published book, If I Just Look Hard Enough, for purchase on Amazon and Sweek. Discover her latest publication via mineral lit mag. Follow her @bearsbeetspoet on Twitter.  


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

just love

By Madison Zehmer

the sound of water droplets falling into the 

sink / cruelty of loneliness / what will become 

 

of us / I can’t stop dreaming about young vultures / 

eating their own innards just to survive / what will 

 

become of us / I brush my fingertips against 

oak and willow shaking from grief and bark falls off /

 

what will become of us / we all wonder if this

is the end / wonder what will become of us / and

 

then / a three sentence note from my sister / just love /

and then / a text from my friend / just love / and then / songs

 

of birds still echoing in trees / just love / just love /

and singing breath / carrying the earth home / just love


Author:

Madison Zehmer (she/her) is an emerging writer and wannabe historian from North Carolina, with work published and forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Déraciné, Drunk Monkeys, Kanstellation, and more. Her first chapbook, “Unhaunting,” will be released by Kelsay Books in 2021. Follow her @madisonzehmer on Twitter and @mirywrites on Instagram.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Your gig is cancelled

By Andy Lopez

because the boomers are all paralyzed neck-down,

stunned beneath the heel of another recession,

because no self-respecting millennial wants to be caught

dead in a rundown hotel called Elenita’s Touch,

or whatsit called—musty gunk-smelling something like your lola’s

old scarf—the lead singer of The Brouhahas stays at home, Googling

easy creamy hummus recipes

instead of jobs.

 

When they told us to be quiet,

I didn’t think we’d accommodate this silence

so easily. For weeks, the music stranded. Once

an uncouth, rollicking guitar, choking

on a cough. sorry, bad joke—

but you know the drill. We Asians

don’t need a test run. Watch us contort

            these spines

                        into impossible parentheses

            for world healing.

In a week we’ll have forgotten our own tongues.

My father sings

in question marks.

 

My mother—god bless her—has taken to quarantine

like a fish in a new tank. An erratic soap sud maelstrom

intimidating stains into submission. She scrubs

anywhere dust can settle, elbow-deep in bleach,

reverent-white like your Sunday’s best

dress. Like if she wants it enough

she can bolster the lipid bilayer & nothing can ever

storm our house ever again.

 

The doorknob gleams when I peer into it.

My reflection attempts comedy. No punchline

but this, baby: the task of muscle memory

is to protect what is left.

 

What’s love got to do with it—? Across the table,

I catch my father mid-chorus & share a grin.

 

Unsterilised &

uncouth.


Author:

Andy Lopez (she/her) is a writer and advocacy communications manager from the Philippines. Her work has been published in CHEAP POP, Ascend Magazine, and other magazines and anthologies. Find her on Twitter at @andylopezwrites.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

The Easy Slide

By Grace Royal

I spent a long time stuck between these four

sea coloured walls, just me, myself and I,

desperately trying to clutch my head together,

desperately trying to keep myself whole –

and then failing and falling into shattered glass –

all shards, all sharpness, all ground up fragments

of a person that stuck into palms and feet.

 

I made an escape – in part – saw fresh walls

for a change, tried to learn to breathe again,

to eat again, to exist again, but now I’m back

in the room and the glass is still scattered

across every surface, waiting to ensnare me,

cut me, trip me; waiting to send me skidding back

to the very start – stuck between four sea coloured walls.

 

I’ve tried to sweep up the mess; I’ve tried wearing shoes,

but it’s hard – too hard – to save myself when my mind is riving,

turning, twisting – beating in this dusting of déjà vu.

Mine is a panting mind, unable to keep still

and my whole body is shaking, swirling and skidding.

 

Anxiety itches constantly at the back of my throat;

it jabs at my legs, scratches at my feet. It reaches

down inside my stomach. It undoes any good work.

 

I try to draw clouds with rainbow linings,

I try to believe in colour and raindrops in hopeful hues.

I try to commit and fit jigsaw pieces back together,

I try mending and  togethering, but in this distant sea coloured room,

hope goes sliding and I find myself wiping sick from the floor.

 

Today and tomorrow are just about reliving my slipping,

a discomforting layer of repetition, an erasure

of this three month obstacle course I have been on.

All the climbing, the crawling, the running, the hauling –

I thought I was a quarter of the way there, but now –

now I’ve found myself needing to restart.

 

So I shake and I scratch and I feel a selfishness deep within.

I punch walls, nurse fingers and feel guilty.

 

Here I am, after all, worrying myself over slices of pear,

the size of yoghurt pots and toddler size portions – here I am

and there are people dying, struggling out in the real.

I am so miniscule, so tiny, and still here I am,

scraping skin off my arms at the thought of a lunch

that many may be missing.

 

I hate myself and my body and I can’t seem to hold it together:

all my pieces have smashed and slid too far apart.

I slip and repeat and I fall and I fail.

I stick rainbows in my windows and try to be good.

I try to see clouds with rainbow linings and then

I look down at the glass and all falls apart.


Author:

Grace Royal is a recent university graduate who writes both poetry and prose. Her work explores eating disorders, mental health, lesbian identity, the small details of life and the impact of social media. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading or looking after her eight guinea pigs.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Spring 2020 Vision

By Amee Nassrene Broumand

Today is not a day

but a miasma of uncertainty,

of suspended life—

this cherry blossom evening

is undead, opaque, a creature

of grey mist. Norooz is now

Halloween, each petal trembling

before the fall.

We bottle our tomorrows

and stopper them with hope.

Time piles in my lap. So far I’ve found

that my afternoon bathtub collects sunlight:

the water throws the dancing ghosts of July

over my skin; the hours pass

and I’m mummified, aging

into sad leather that’s perfect

for a handbag

or a pair of new boots.

I sip jasmine tea to inhale the coming summer,

but the flavor slips into a future

I can no longer pretend to fathom.

Mothballs roll forth, tracing eons of dust

across my tongue—

in another life

I gather apples,

cutting past bone

into the star.

Night falls on the deserted church across the street.

It seems far away, but I remember lingering there,

thinking nothing of my unquiet lungs.

Backlit against a skyful of iolite, the old spire

rises into darkness. We await the ringing.


Author:

Amee Nassrene Broumand is an asthmatic Iranian-American writer from the Pacific Northwest. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in numerous journals including Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Rust + Moth, Barren Magazine, Sundog Lit, and Empty Mirror. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Essential

By Laura Owens

We arrive together
But this ticket admits only one.
Wish me luck.

Alone I embark
Through aisles arranged in a maze,
Through aisles designed to faze,
Regular lines at my feet denote a hazard yet to transpire.

Everywhere,
Faces obscured-
Obscure faces.
My eyes meet no others.

Swerve
And rush
And then swerve again
And then stop…
And repeat,
Like a broken rhythm, endless and unsatisfying.

Rows, empty of milk,
But brimming with guilt
And the air is so solemn,
I just want to go and
Where are you?
I wish I wasn’t alone.

“Sorry for the wait.”
Or is she sorry for the weight,
The burden thrust upon us all?

At least now it’s over.
I spot your face,
Unobscure and unobscured,
Across the lot.

Lucky you!
It’s your turn next week.


Author:

Originally from the North of England, Laura Owens (she/her) is a 3D animator now working in the South. A keen baker and crafter, she is currently building a collection of poems inspired by a recent trip to Iceland. Follow her on Instagram @laurabethowens and Twitter @laurabethowens.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Nuts & Bolts

By Josie Thornhill

I don’t feel it hit me,

not like Klonopin or Seroquel,

remedies band-aids unavailable to me now.

 

“Well how do I fix it?” I’d asked.

“Long term therapy…”

Dear, I wanted to tap my wrist,

I have been in therapy for ten years.

“Something in your subconscious, likely,”

she continued, “that you need to deal with.”

I almost smirked, spinning the wheel of misfortune:

 

Tell me, which one?

 

I wear my traumas like a badge

for every curious psychologist.

What do I get? What have I earned? A life.

We all have our badges, so why can’t I carry mine?

Why are my limbs falling off like the arms of a mannequin?

My rusted nuts and bolts rolling down the hallways of your local mall,

the one that won’t employ me or acknowledge my disability.

 

The T.V. is roaring its red mouth again

about the world ending, “Stay home!”

Where else can I go? I have been isolated for years,

my attempts to join real life unsuccessful. What is it now:

Nine? Ten part-time jobs that lasted less than six months?

I wake up alone. I open the mail in silence:

1) denial for disability 2) notification of lapse in health care coverage

 

I open the green capsule of Kratom, the bitter powder coating the top of the water.

“We don’t recommend taking that. It’s not FDA approved,” she said.

Well, I am my own doctor now.


Author:

Josie Thornhill (she/her) is a writer & bookseller from Atlanta, Georgia. You can find her work at Dark Marrow, Voices of Mental Health, The Mighty, and Writers With Mental Illness. Follow her on InstagramTwitter, and WordPress.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.

Day 11

By Paul Robert Mullen

the main drag through town

            ghosting

barren

a police van trails me to

the roundabout

            a temporary digital sign flashing

stay home, save lives

 

the engine of the world has stopped

i can’t help but think

transfixed

by the empty windows

            shuttered storefronts

signs of apology attached to letterboxes

                        & lampposts

i wear a mask in Morrisons

wait for people

            to leave the isles before

scuttering through

            holding my breath

we observe each other like an unfamiliar race

suspicion & distrust

            bubbling in our eyes

it’s a lottery

            of malevolent droplets

the PM // cooped up   with symptoms

says things will get worse

before

anything gets better


Author:

Paul Robert Mullen is a poet, musician, lecturer, radio presenter, traveller and sociable loner from Liverpool, U.K. He has three published poetry collections: curse this blue raincoat (2017), testimony (2018), 35 (2018) and disintegration (2020) He has been widely published in magazines worldwide. Paul also enjoys paperbacks with broken spines, and all things minimalist.  Follow him on Twitter @mushyprm35.


This poem is a part of the DISTANCED project.