Abuelita. a poem by Juanita Rey

Juanita Rey

Abuelita

There was never a television in her house.
Just an old radio that ran off a battery.
She was always averse to plugging things in.

La sala was lined with photographs in descending order,
from her stern mother and father, to one of her wedding day,
down to my sister and myself.
With every generation, the smiles grew wider,
though, as her stories told it, 
the happiness from first to last was unvarying.

She read little, only left the house to shop, or see old sick friends,
engaged in an on-going dispute with the woman next door
though it’d been years since her garden-chomping goat died.
 
When I visited, her conversation was much as it had been last time,
as if such a small mix of doings and opinions, repeated endlessly,
was all that needed knowing of a life.
 
If she hugged me tight enough, I’d believe it.

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Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in the USA five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Opiate Journal, Petrichor Machine and Porter Gulch Review.

 

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Gather. a poem by Michele Rule

Michele Rule

Gather

Two long years. 
Covid still dictates
where we can gather and when,
how many and who.
I don’t begrudge that.
I march forward with the majority.
I don’t heed the call
of the convoy to disobey.

I’m just tired, worn out, weary
of Zoom meetings,
cancelled trips,
social distancing.
Missed moments we’ll never get back.
Makes me want 
secret trysts with other bubbles.
To huddle in hiding with
the mailman,
the grocery store clerk,
the neighbor I don’t even like.
Stolen moments of risk.

I daydream of days ahead
without the rules and regulations
but I hold my place in the regiment
a little bit longer.

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Michele Rule is a poet living with a disability in Kelowna, BC. She uses words as a way to give a glimpse of her world to others. Outside of writing, Michele is a painter and a gardener. She lives with her partner, a dog and two cats.

 

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Pandemic Haikus by Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Wasir Dar

a whatsapp birthday,
virtual cake, no hugs, gifts, 
sad joy, safe distance.

Love true, spirits one,
socially distanced, then
Covid matters not.

Social distance,
washing hands, fast becoming
new law, of all lands.

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Anjum Wasim Dar is a Kashmir, Migrant Pakistani. Educated at St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi. MA in English Literature & American Studies. CPE Certificate of Proficiency in English Cambridge UK British Council LSE.

Writing poems, articles and stories since 1980. Published Poet. Won Poet of Merit Bronze Medal Semi Final International Award 2000 USA. Worked as Creative Writer Teacher Trainer. Educational Consultant by Profession. Freelance Writer.

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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3 poems by Eva Tihanyi

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is eva-tihanyi-.jpg

THE NEW NORMAL

We used to wish for adventure nights,
wild urban neon, rebel tales told
in vodka language, beer songs spilling
from summer windows.

Now we long for safe country sleep.

But still.

There is simmering
and fierce desire.

I’m in slow boil, 
my heart a rogue’s apothecary
of forbidden medicine.

Just wait, the hopeful voice says.
Wait for it.



BEAUTY IN ISOLATION

You fold in and in on 
yourself until finally
after the last fold 
you are a small
but perfect
origami.



A HELLISH SEASON

The discovery of innocence is its loss
yet amidst the sanctioned ugliness,
to take the risk of beauty—
that’s the rise of living!

Some call this a mottled faith,
an ersatz version of impending zero,
but it’s not nothing.

Across the uncivilized terrain
where predators binge and walls are terminal:
so many exits into the afterlife,
souls rife with arriving.

It’s here that we bed down
with the miracle worker, dream
of the vanishing point, try to gain
our agency even as it negates us.

The only questions left:
What did you try to save?
What wreckage did you win?

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Eva Tihanyi’s ninth poetry collection Circle Tour will be published by Inanna Publications in spring 2023. She is also the author of a short story collection, Truth and Other Fictions. Tihanyi lives in St. Catharines, Ontario.

 

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It’s not too late. a poem by Bhuwan Thapaliya

bhuwanthapaliya

It’s not too late 

“I could tell the color
 of her lipstick 
just by feeling the wind. 
Now I can taste nothing,”
this is what my uncle told me
when I called him to inquire
 about his coronavirus recovery.
I said don’t worry, 
you will be fine soon
and hung up the phone.
After few days I went 
to see him in person. 
It was raining hard 
and the water was tapping
into a round plastic wash basin
outside his terrace. 
Sunken eyes, pale 
and wrinkled forehead,
at first glance he appeared
to have hopped
 into the skin of his father.
“How are you feeling now,” I asked.
“I’m melting each day 
as the Khumbu Glacier.
 My hearts heritage can’t 
 be reassembled now,” he said 
without lifting his head.
There were dirges in his voice,
reminded me of my grandfather
smoking in the dark,
weeks before he died.
I said nothing. 
I just stood up 
and went to the window 
and watched the street
 turned into river 
and people wading
through waist- deep waters.
It’s not too late, 
I said to myself.
I turned around
and took a step
and another again.
Finally, he smiled 
after twenty four days.
Coming October, 
we’re planning a trek 
to the Mount Everest Base Camp
and may be in a year or two
we may be on the top of the world.
Who knows?

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Bhuwan Thapaliya is a poet writing in English from Kathmandu, Nepal. He works as an economist and is the author of four poetry collections. His poems have been published in Pendemics Literary Journal, Trouvaille Review, WordCity Literary Journal, Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic Initiative(Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University), International Human Rights Art Festival, Poetry and Covid: A Project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, University of Plymouth, and Nottingham Trent University, Pandemic Magazine, The Poet,  Valient Scribe, Strong Verse, Jerry Jazz Musician, VOICES ( Education Project), Longfellow Literary Project, Poets Against the War among many others. Thapaliya has read his poetry and attended seminars in venues around the world, including South Korea, India, the United States, Thailand, Cambodia, and Nepal.

 

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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adagietto. a poem by Sorin Smărăndescu. translated by Iulia Stoichit

Sorin Smărăndescu

adagietto

breathe this cheap reproduction hanged on the wall
Venetian map for the straightening of the surrounding house
I am

breathe stick your closed eye to the window
my isolated smell of raw printed sheet
count the wood splinters from inside out
I am

breathe three four legato one
the string of water weaves two lichens cordage you
my strangled tongue on the cliffs’ edges
thick saliva the leaves’ invasion at the end of August
lurks at the corner of concatenated bricks
I am

breathe paid killers
your smile rust in swarming layers
the silent hull drips along the walls
these chambers that unfold underneath the sky
at the sound of the body
I am

breathe incision in the flesh of memory
knockdown tree trunks at the roots of my rotten palisades
back and forth interwoven shores with sprigs
I am

breathe this cardboard segment invaded by cracks
puzzling honeycomb a vice for the prodigal moths
I am

to have blown you like disintegrated ashes from the hands into the wind over the thuja fence dream-cut with barren olive trees flood among the goat herds piano pods for your steps my steps avitral abyss starman at the wheel of the red roadster tesla two thousand and eight left over on Mars heart-time behind distances I continue I am transit breathe




adagietto

respiră această reproducere ieftină atârnată pe perete
hartă venețiană pentru îndreptarea potecilor casei împresurătoare
sunt

respiră lipește-ți de geam ochiul închis
mirosul meu izolat de coală imprimată brut
numără așchiile de lemn dinăuntru-n afară
sunt

respiră trei patru legato unu
sfoara apei împletește doi lichenii cordaj tu
limba mea sugrumată pe muchii de stânci
salivă groasă cotropirea frunzelor la sfârșitul lui august
pândește la colțurile cărămizilor concatenate
sunt

respiră ucigași plătiți
zâmbetul tău rugină în straturi fojgăitoare
îmi prelinge carena tăcută de-a lungul pereților
aceste camere care se desfac sub cer
la auzul trupului
sunt

respiră incizat în carnea memoriei
doborâturi de trunchiuri la rădăcina palisadelor mele putrede
dinapoi-nainte maluri întrețesute de lăstari
sunt

respiră acest segment de carton năpădit de crăpături
fagure auritor viciu moliilor risipitoare
sunt

să te fi suflat ca pe cenușă dezintegrată din palme în vânt peste gardul de tuia vis-tăietură cu măslini sterpi viitură prin turme de capre pianopoduri pașilor tăi pașii mei abis avitral starman la volanul roadsterului roșu tesla douămiiopt lăsat peste marte inimă-timp în urmă distanțe continuu sunt tranzit respire

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Born in 1971 in Timișoara, Romania, Sorin Smărăndescu debuted in 1995. He writes poetry and short stories. He published three books (talking with the Highly-placed, poetry, 2000, Eubeea Publishing House; blurred, poetry, 2011, Brumar Publishing House; reverse motion, short stories, 2011, Eubeea Publishing House) and was included in one Romanian contemporary poetry anthology. His writings were published in various Romanian cultural magazines. He lives in Romania with his wife and two kids, all of them gladly taking care of their dog and two cats.

 

Iulia Stoichiț was born in 1994 and she’s from Brasov, Romania. She studied at the Faculty of Letters at Transilvania Univeristy of Brasov and currently she’s a PhD student. She translated the trilingual poetry volume Pink-Pong (authors: Andrei Zbîrnea and Claus Ankersen), providing the Romanian and English versions, volume which appeared at the frACTalia Publishing House (2019). She writes poetry and has published her poems in literary magazines (print and online) from Romania. Her debut volume is called BoJack is Payne (CDPL, 2022). She writes literary reviews in literary magazines (online: citestema.ro, and print). She teaches Romanian at two schools.

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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Vile Bug. a poem by Musa Aruna Chemnchu

Musa Aruna Chemnchu

VILE BUG
A virus from the subcontinent, well populated, 
transformed all other regions into sub regions.
Of course, it suits the apocalyptic prophesies,
and does it all, to undermine forewarnings.

It sole course is the new order.
It targets figures to look impetuous.
But the upcoming must not undermine its rage.
It does not spare he who dares challenge its might.

Quarantined! Stay safe! Stay home! Save lives!
It comes with songs.
Of course, its moves with a crest and deserves praises,
to meander its tributaries.
For it has to be unsparingly ubiquitous. 

It imposes the queue on its challengers,
and sends them to the vineyard of tears
for it hates contenders.
and abhors overage
but cherishes infancy.

It enacts new world order
then the overage submit their cubicles
and the new blooms taste the summit of light.
 
The bug names itself Covid-19
but sparingly makes friends with 20 and 30
with the condition, ‘spare the contest!’
Or face the rage of the bug’s venom.

Its preys the 40s for their fragility 
and lack of calcium.
Ah! Their hearts often harbor cardiac arrest.
Yes! Call it the crown-virus if you don't mind.

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Musa Aruna Chemnchu is a PhD researcher in the University of Bamenda. He teaches English and Literature in English in Government Bilingual High School Downtown-Bamenda. He is interested in Cultural Studies, Black British Literature and Diasporic Studies. He has written a close range of poems on contemporary subjects, related to the preceding fields of studies. However, these poems are yet to be published.  

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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WordCity Literary Journal. March 2022. Issue 14 The Pandemic

©®| All rights to the content of this journal remain with WordCity Literary Journal and its contributing artists.

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editor. Darcie Friesen Hossack

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 404e353f3ba24298aacbefccc86b2cb3.jpg

Even as we present this, our Pandemic Issue, the attention of WordCity Literary Journal’s editors is very much turned towards Ukraine. Our hearts are with her people and her president, united in hope for peace, freedom and continued democracy. Our May 2022 issue, featuring a human rights theme, will be presented in honour of Ukraine. Our call for manuscripts may be found Here. Please join us as we stand in solidarity as a creative community of writers and readers.

Until then, in this issue, we look at the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and offer our gratitude to contributing writer and poet Anjum Wasim Dar for suggesting it was time.

In two years, we have seen the world unite and divide. We have seen lost lives and livelihoods. The loss of common ground and the relationships that once stood upon it. We’ve seen life-saving vaccines and truck drivers storm Capital cities in protest against them.

One of our poems this month is from Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who speaks directly to those drivers and the horns they blared for three weeks in our Capital, Ottawa. A short story by Sylvia Petter, meanwhile, gets in the middle of a group of protestors, and Olga Stein examines how WordCity Literary Journal came to exist just months after Covid-19 circumnavigated the globe.

In our Literary Spotlight, although not directly about the virus, we find Sue Burge in conversation about Poetic Prescriptions for what ails us, and I hope you find, as I did, that it is a salve for our times.

All three of the above women are editors here at WCLJ, and together with Clara Burghelea, Nancy Ndeke, Geraldine Sinyuy, Lori Roadhouse and myself, the issues we’ve created so far have been our way of pouring light and literature into the darkness that has been the world’s collective experience these last two years. I am grateful the time, talent and friendship of every one of them, and for every single contributor and reader who has made WordCity their literary home.

Fiction. Edited by Sylvia Petter

Prelude for pandemic stories

This month there are two longer stories, and two pieces of flash fiction, one by yours truly that I felt would be a good fit, and a very short one.

Things are not always as they seem, or are they?

Cath Barton’s short story ‘Picture Perfect’, although not strictly about the pandemic, is infused with an atmosphere of frustration with those who are there, and he who is not, recalling perhaps the constraints of quarantine.

Debra Kennedy’s story, ‘The Marriage of True Minds’ is a tongue-in cheek story with perhaps telepathy as a possible long-term effect of the pandemic, and its consequences.

Sylvia Petter’s flash fiction ‘Bussing for Your Lives’ deals with anti-vax demonstrators bussing beyond national borders in the guise of latter-day missionaries.

Finally, a clever jibe flash by Doug Jacquier entitled ‘Shock and Denial’ rounds of this fiction issue. ~Sylvia Petter

Cath Barton

CB.Dec2021.4

Picture Perfect                                                                                                         

The gîte looks exactly as advertised in the brochure: Blue pool, shady terrace (for long, lazy lunches), vineyards dripping with ripening grapes stretching into the distance. Three spacious double bedrooms. Peace and absolutely quiet. Perfect for a relaxing family holiday.

The only thing it doesn’t say in the brochure is that it’s a long way to the nearest shops, but for the moment Nina, newly arrived with husband Ed, isn’t worried about that. She’s floating in the blue pool. The trilling of her phone on a lounger by the pool pulls her back to reality. It’s her daughter Alice, calling from the airport back in England to say she will be late getting there, she doesn’t know how bloody late, and she could do without this after the term she’s had. Nina makes soothing noises. She’s looking forward to having the family together again after Alice’s first year away at university.

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Debra Kennedy

Debra

The Marriage of True Minds

We sleep in separate bedrooms now and text to communicate. I won’t get within six feet of him, but I’m not leaving, nor is he, now that we both know our true minds.

It started with an earworm. A couple of weeks ago I was weeding one of the flowerbeds when my husband sat down on the gravel driveway a few feet away from me and started digging dandelions out with a trowel.

“I’ve had this stupid song going through my head all morning,” I said. “You know, that one about Sylvia’s mother.”

He looked up sharply as I went on. “It keeps going along until I get to the part that says Please, Mrs…… and I can’t remember the name. Mrs. Who?”

“Mrs. Avery,” he said bluntly. “I’ve had the same song in my head all morning.”

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Sylvia Petter

CrankySylvia

Bussing for Your Lives

I’d been to visit a cousin on Lake Constance close to the Austrian border. He was an anti-vaxxer. My best friend had also gone down the rabbit hole. Part of me wanted to understand. Another part didn’t.

“I’ll drive you to the border,” he said. “There´s a bus going straight to Vienna. I’ve booked you on it. You´ll get to see another viewpoint.”

“No borders in the EU,” I said.

“Only for Switzerland,” he said. “The bus will be waiting on the other side,” he added.

I wave goodbye and get into line. I’m a bit nervous. I usually take the train, but this was a direct Friday bus to Vienna, and it was free.

“Is this your first time?” The young woman behind me with a toddler on her hip asks.

I nod and turn around to face her. She has red, curly hair, a dusting of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Wholesome.

“You’ll see. It´s great. Everyone together. United in a cause. All types. All ages,” she says, scratching her nose.

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Doug Jacquier

Doug Jacquier 2[1]

Shock and denial

Rufus Hornblower, the ‘it’s only the flu’, ‘it’s your sovereign right not to wear a mask’, ‘vaccination’s a plot’ shock jock, was bewildered when he woke up on a hospital trolley in a warehouse, after he’d gone to ER about his severe breathing difficulties.

A doctor wearing full PPE was observing him closely and taking copious notes before noticing Rufus was awake.

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Non-Fiction. Edited by Olga Stein

Olga Stein

OLGA STEIN89

Women’s Happiness: Linking Writing with Well-being: An Editorial

A recent trip to my doctor’s office yielded something I value greatly — an article that could prompt me to start writing. I had been mulling over how to address one of the main themes of WordCity’s March 2022 edition: living and writing during the pandemic. It was pure luck that while waiting for my appointment I had picked up an issue of Elle Canada from June, 2017 (there was nothing more current, perhaps unsurprisingly). Flipping through this bit of fashion’s old news, I found it: Sarah Laing’s “What A Girl Wants: Could prioritizing the happiness of women save world?” It’s one of those well thought out articles that ladies’ fashion magazines make a point of including because they reflect the fact that women who look at fashion mags are neither ditzy nor frivolous. As it happens, the article’s contents were not outdated in any shape or form.

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Suzanne Steele

Suzanne Steele

Creating the Pandemic

It has been a time. My little family weathered the first part of the 2020 Pandemic year hunkered down in a run-down log cabin on a tiny, socially insular island in the north Pacific. My daughter, called back from Oxford (UK) after our federal government warned us all to come home, spent most of her time in her dark bedroom finishing her 2nd year archeology degree, and trying to make sense of the senseless. Meanwhile, my spouse, furloughed from the film industry, began a series of videos of his singing and playing guitar in order to entertain friends and family, as well as himself. I quietly sunk into a creative stupor and binged on endless repeats of Shtisel, Schitz Creek, and Kim’s Convenience. Only now as I read this do I realize that all three series were about complex, beguiling, and often humorous family situations, and all these families were in part similar to my own, a family I missed very much.

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Maxim Matusevich

Maxim Matusevich bw 1

The ‘Jaws’ of Victory

That spring of 1988 was a spring like no other. At the end of March, the elderly Minister of Defense issued his bi-annual decommissioning order. It was published in all the major newspapers — a small and inconspicuous looking item at the bottom of the back page of the Izvestia or Pravda, or that idiotic army paper that we loved to mock (the Red Star?). However,  for those of us who had been drafted in the Spring of 1986, it wasn’t so ‘small’. My best friend and fellow infantry sergeant, Yurik, used his connections outside the base to procure multiple copies of the papers carrying the order that heralded our freedom. We then carved out the tiny squares — to be ironed into plastic sheaths and carried around in the breast pockets of our fatigues, a symbol of our enhanced social standing, and a memento to be preserved for future generations.

            Yes, technically we were still soldiers but only barely; we were more like civilians in waiting. Even the officers, especially the young lieutenants, began to treat us with certain respect and consideration. We were дембеля, the ones on the brink of discharge, inhabiting a liminal space between serfdom and emancipation. The ambiguity of this status was a source of both excitement and anxiety. The days dragged on. We smoked a great deal in silence. We tried to read but couldn’t. We hung around with the Uzbek kitchen cohort at the canteen. In the after hours, the Uzbeks grilled pork. Makhsudbek, the head chef, assured us that it was lamb. Not pork, no. Pork was not halal and he would never touch it. Only he did, of course. Yurik delighted in observing Makhsudbek’s contortions and played along, praising his magic culinary touch and the delicious ‘lamb’. I remember thinking how easy it was to manufacture one’s own truth, to turn fiction into reality by giving it a name.

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Cal Freeman

Cal Freeman-Photo credit Shadia Amen

A Bird-While

I heard what sounded like a bird struggling inside one of the aluminum pillars on my porch. I knew there was no way for a bird to extend its wings and fly out of such a narrow space, so I went back to the garage to grab the thin plastic tube of a shop vacuum and run it down the hollow part inside the pillar, hoping the bird would use it to find its way to daylight.

I thought the bird, or what I imagined was a trapped bird, could scrabble up the grooved plastic. It wasn’t a rat. A rat would’ve simply clawed its way up and out and scurried off or chewed a hole in the bottom of the pillar. A rat would’ve needed no help. There was a chance this bird could be nesting in there, assembling material—chaff and weeds and string—it had scavenged on recent flights around our neighbourhood. There was a chance it knew perfectly well what it was doing and its peril was all in my head.

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Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Wasir Dar

Hypoxic Hours

               “Mama, do you know what happened to you, a few minutes ago ?”
               Speechless and numb, I stared at my elder daughter Sara. Her  pale face, reflected grave concern. Something had happened, for I felt my clothes were wet. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, in a daze, my mind foggy. I didn’t answer as I couldn’t speak. I just saw my daughter’s face, white as a sheet. I noticed that she was perched on the stool beside the bed, and was bending a little towards me.
               I was thoughtless, unconscious of the time. In the small hours of the night, a severe cramp in my left leg woke me up. A loud cry of pain sent my daughter running to my room.
               “What happened to me Sara?” My mind totally blank.

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Olga Stein

OLGA STEIN89

Essay Title: Q & A with WordCity’s editors regarding the Pandemic,

Or: This could have been an ACCUTE Conference Paper on New Intimacies: Literary Communities in the Aftermath

The list of literary magazines still in existence worldwide found in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia is just under 400. Thirty-eight of the listed mags declare that they’re being published online. Seven of these have ‘print’ added in parentheses. I take it that many of these have digital editions in addition to being printed. There are 22 Canadian magazines on the list, and I know for a fact that some, like WordCity (which isn’t listed), were started by an all-woman crew of editors and writers, and were committed to women’s issues. For instance, Room (formerly Room of One’s Own), which published its first issue in 1975, is described as a West Coast Feminist Literary magazine. Another magazine, Fireweed: A Feminist Quarterly of Writing, Politics, Art & Culture, which was originally called Fireweed: A Women’s Literary and Cultural Journal, was founded in 1978 by a collective of 24 women. Both magazines aimed to represent women and diversity even among and within communities of women writers/creators. Race, class, and sexuality were concerns for both publications. Both aimed to encourage women who were new to writing and publishing. Furthermore, Fireweed, like WordCity, included fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, photographs, and drawings from women around the world. Like WordCity, it also made sure to examine women’s experience of violence and fear.

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Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Wasir Dar

A Spark in the Ashes

“From the ashes a fire shall be woken” — J.R.Tolkien.

J.R.Tolkien’s poetic expression stirred the ashes in the sorrowful soul, blew them away a bit, and began to awaken the saddened muse, still in shock from the killing wave of Covid -19. It had struck harshly, crashing like a hurricane and suffocating like thick smog, taking our son-in-law to the land of No Return.
Death was striking all over the planet.

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Books and Reviews. Edited by Geraldine Sinyuy

Gordon Phinn

GordonPhinnPhoto

While Lillian Necakov’s, il virus, an intimate, surreal journal of 78 days during, was first out of the gate in these turbulent times,  Apart, a large anthology of over 200 pages and 70 contributors, chockfull of poetry, essays, memoirs and fiction, is the first Canadian literary production of this scope reflecting the years of the virus panic now seemingly drawing to a whimpering close.  You can bet it won’t be the last.  A more predictable agreed-upon theme would be hard to find.  And with such a large crew of writers and modes of expression there will inevitably be highs and lows, with each reader finding their likes and dislikes as they progress through “the year”.  My own peaks would be the essays by Sharon Butala and dee Hobsbawn-Smith.

     It’s a touchy, tendentious topic and one expects frayed nerves and overwrought reactions rendered in tones of rage and sadness, but they are held in check here.  Perhaps by editors smoothing out the rougher edges and perhaps by writers censoring themselves.  After all, aren’t we the polite Canadians showing the world the efficacy of apologetics?  I imagine a US or UK equivalent would be riper with rage, but time, as they say, will tell.

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Literary Spotlight. Poetry Pharmacy: Deb Alma in Conversation with Sue Burge

literarypharmacy5

My interviewee for this issue seems very apt.  In these troubled times I am turning more and more to words to provide solace and so am thrilled to be chatting to Deb Alma.  It’s not often you meet someone who has made her belief in the therapeutic power of poetry her life’s work, and in such engaging and creative ways too.

Deb, I first knew of you as The Emergency Poet.  Could you tell us a little bit about your life behind the wheel of a converted ambulance?! What was your mission?  Where did you go?

Sue, thank you so much for this opportunity to sit back and reflect on what I do.  

I set-up Emergency Poet in 2011, travelling in my vintage ambulance to offer poetry on prescription. The idea was to explicitly mimic a Quack Doctor piece of theatre; to be a little ridiculous, and fun and free to whoever wandered in. I felt it had something in common with gypsy fortune tellers and palm-readers and that it was connected to magic and not to be taken too seriously. It came directly from an evangelical zeal to share poetry with people who were frightened of it, because in the UK I think something happens in our secondary schools.  Pupils are asked to examine texts as though they are forensic scientists, prising out the meaning and the poet’s intention, and in the process being thoroughly put off. Most people in the UK do not read poetry. I wanted to literally go out on the road and try to change that. 

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Poetry. Edited by Clara Burghelea

John Eliot

John Eliot

Messenger
 
4.10 a.m. I'm not looking for someone awake,
just saw you on line, don't really know you. We met,
I found you cold. My wife tells me you are warm, kind;
maybe it was me, full of himself, il poeta,

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Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko

Sonnet for Floating

I was between the diamonds of the earth’s moisture 
floating on a raft     on a lake     and I had fallen
into a dream where everything kept disappearing 
until I was surrounded by nothing but sky     and then
in my dream     I realized that the sky was in fact 
a mirror image of some other sky     or some other 
bluenes

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Debra Black

Debra Black

a bad case of the asymmetrical blues 
or how to survive a pandemic

a cracking, thrumming, vibrating, anxious heart
beating, 
rising,
throttling,
digging deeper into paranoia,
drifting into illness,
echoes around the world.
body counts,
pieces of humanity strewn 
across the sky,
hidden in the Duomo
tattered and weary,
the end of the world.
the end of time.
then suddenly space – 

everywhere, 

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Susan Glickman

Susan Glickman

What Hunger Costs

I.


All every creature wants is to survive
virus or human, bat or pangolin -
though in this case we may resent its drive
life’s just cells mutating from within.
That’s why we like to pillage habitats
not ours, arboreal or aquatic,
looking for stuff to use. We don’t care that
the earth is damaged or that it makes us sick, 
or not enough to stop; we are the best
at consuming every resource in our path.
Ominivores? No, we’re omnivoracious,

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Musa Aruna Chemnchu

Musa Aruna Chemnchu

VILE BUG
A virus from the subcontinent, well populated, 
transformed all other regions into sub regions.
Of course, it suits the apocalyptic prophesies,
and does it all, to undermine forewarnings.

It sole course is the new order.
It targets figures to look impetuous.
But the upcoming must not undermine its rage.
It does not spare he who dares challenge its might.

Quarantined! Stay safe! Stay home! Save lives!
It comes with songs.

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Emily Hockaday

Emily Hockaday

Household Mirages

In an alternate universe, 
we painted this wall yellow—
goldenrod like a kitchen should be.
I see our shadows cross 
entryways and hover over the wall
by the stove. Your hands
were the setting sun, bringing down
the hanging plants for thirst.
In another universe, the two-bedroom
is a three-bedroom, or only 
a one-bedroom. It is sunny outside,
or rainy. Here sirens are going by
again. I hear two discrete
wails moving in different
directions. In that other life,
our life continues. I see the doors
of that apartment opening 
and closing. Shoes by the door,

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Bob Rae

Bob Rae - Wikipedia

A truck is not a speech. A horn
is not a voice. An occupation
is not a protest. A blockade
is not freedom, it blocks the
liberty for all. A demand
to overthrow the government is not
a dialogue

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Sorin Smărăndescu. Translated by Iulia Stoichit

Sorin Smărăndescu

adagietto

breathe this cheap reproduction hanged on the wall
Venetian map for the straightening of the surrounding house
I am

breathe stick your closed eye to the window
my isolated smell of raw printed sheet
count the wood splinters from inside out
I am

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Patrick Connors

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is patrick-connors.jpg

Virus
 
We are all having
the same nightmare, overcome
by an invisible, relentless enemy
completely unable to protect ourselves.

People are dying by the dozens
doing the work, we take for granted.
Undervalued, often underpaid labour 
suddenly something we can't live without. 

People are dying alone
in soiled beds made up of despair.
They lie along walls wailing prayers 
wishing they could say their last goodbyes. 

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Sally Quon

Sally_Quon

Rough Living

He’s been “rough living”
as they call it.
Skin over bones,
frost-bitten hands.

“How’re the kids?” he asks,
like it matters now.

“They’ve got me quarantined,
 top of the shelter.
Might have the virus.
Might not.”

The words blur;
rearrange themselves.

“You shouldn’t have left.

I’m going to die and it’s your fault.”           

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Ali Imran

Ali Imran

The invisible masks

Unpeopled streets for days, 
weeks and months
toss my mind 
into a time warp -
a winter of earth's discontent 
with frozen memories
snowballing, and pounding me 
into a strange oblivion. 
In the park outside my window
birds touch down, chirp in the trees.
After sundown a bevy of shy deers 
appears ambling around, 

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Juanita Rey

Juanita Rey

Abuelita

There was never a television in her house.
Just an old radio that ran off a battery.
She was always averse to plugging things in.

La sala was lined with photographs in descending order,
from her stern mother and father, to one of her wedding day,
down to my sister and myself.
With every generation, the smiles grew wider,
though, as her stories told it, 
the happiness from first to last was unvarying.

She read little, only left the house to shop, or see old sick friends,

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Michele Rule

Michele Rule

Gather

Two long years. 
Covid still dictates
where we can gather and when,
how many and who.
I don’t begrudge that.
I march forward with the majority.
I don’t heed the call
of the convoy to disobey.

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Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum Wasir Dar

a whatsapp birthday,
virtual cake, no hugs, gifts, 
sad joy, safe distance.

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Eva Tihanyi

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is eva-tihanyi-.jpg

THE NEW NORMAL

We used to wish for adventure nights,
wild urban neon, rebel tales told
in vodka language, beer songs spilling
from summer windows.

Now we long for safe country sleep.

But still.

There is simmering
and fierce desire.

I’m in slow boil, 
my heart a rogue’s apothecary
of forbidden medicine.

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Bhuwan Thapaliya

bhuwanthapaliya

It’s not too late 

“I could tell the color
 of her lipstick 
just by feeling the wind. 
Now I can taste nothing,”
this is what my uncle told me
when I called him to inquire
 about his coronavirus recovery.
I said don’t worry, 
you will be fine soon
and hung up the phone.

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A truck is not a speech. a poem by Bob Rae

 

Bob Rae - Wikipedia

A truck is not a speech. A horn
is not a voice. An occupation
is not a protest. A blockade
is not freedom, it blocks the
liberty for all. A demand
to overthrow a government is not
a dialogue. The expression of
hatred is not a difference of
opinion. A lie is not the truth

 

Bob Rae poem

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Robert Keith Rae PC CC OOnt QC is a Canadian diplomat, lawyer, negotiator, public speaker, and former politician who is the current Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations since 2020.

More from Wikipedia

Note: Permission to publish this poem was solicited by WordCity Literary Journal, and we are tremendously grateful Ambassador Rae has allowed us to share it with you in its handwritten form. We are also grateful for his work in the United Nations and his support of human rights, including an end to the war in Ukraine.

 

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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The invisible masks. a poem by Ali Imran

Ali Imran

The invisible masks

Unpeopled streets for days, 
weeks and months
toss my mind 
into a time warp -
a winter of earth's discontent 
with frozen memories
snowballing, and pounding me 
into a strange oblivion. 
In the park outside my window
birds touch down, chirp in the trees.
After sundown a bevy of shy deers 
appears ambling around, 
perhaps, they want to check out 
if it is the same bustling place.
Even the silvery moon wonders:  
What happened to these restless souls! 
Still, flowers bloom,
the trees fresh green
but kids no more frolick around,
and lovebirds stay hungry 
in their desire to clasp and croon 
as if they live and meet digitally only.
Is it forced platonic love of our times?
Outside my window, 
the only being I see
seems to be my masked neighbor 
walking his puppy on the sidewalks.
In my room, I try to scour through 
what they said - 
the old men of ageless Rome
Averroes of the Andalusian spring,
Sweet Swan of Avon, 
the straight-shooting Bulleh, 
mystery-seeking Rumi and Iqbal,
and Twain with his lively spirit.
Will we fare better this time 
when we ride out the viral worries?
Kids rush through the rooms
the blood runs through my veins 
my love's arms, 
my parents’ healing words
vibes and faces of friends 
the dream of a shining city on the hill -
so much to look beyond 
the stinging infection.
But, we, who have refused to 
meet ourselves, will we finally
embrace the moment of truth?
Will we bare our souls 
or stick with the invisible masks?
After that breathless midsummer act
many of us gasped together for air
but the promise of a rainbow life -
with its colors distinct yet knit together -
still awaits the light of day
like my desire for our summer yet to be,
a maskless season yet to be,
and the best of us yet to be.

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Ali Imran is a poet and writer based in Washington D.C. He has been trying to understand the philosophical ideas of thinkers in the Arab and Persian-speaking worlds including Sufi mystics and voices of reformation. Having lived and worked in South Asia, Europe, and the United States, Imran finds it natural to discuss both the Eastern and Western thoughts. Lately, Imran has been writing on challenges like human disconnect in the digital era, climate change and Nature, human soul and the city life, universal mysteries, and immigrants. Imran’s poem on affinity for peace was selected for performance by the World Consciousness Alliance at their 2020 annual event in Washington D.C. Recently, the American University in Washington picked his poem La Convivencia for our Times for reading as part of discussion on the state of arts and culture in the Muslim majority countries. Currently, Imran is working on two books, one on poetry, the other translation of an autobiography. His works have appeared in several publications since his college days when he served as student editor of the Murray College magazine in Sialkot, Pakistan.

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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Monthly
Yearly

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Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

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$100.00
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$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
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Or enter a custom amount

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