A week before my surgery, I hear the news. It spreads quickly, like the virus. I have my knee replaced anyway. How bad can it be? As I lie in my bed high on oxycodone and Ed Sheeran, I am oblivious to the coming storm.

fever pitch the world dancing out of tune

It is a cold rainy morning, and I am late for my PT appointment. The walls in the room are
circus-blue and green, and everyone wears the mask. I slowly pedal my bike and wonder if anyone has considered the effects of long-term oxygen deprivation.

wall of mirrors the bearded lady takes it off

The therapists are having a conversation about the masks. They are cautiously optimistic. The young one warns about a new variant, the coming spike, and the fourth wave. Yes, I think, and the fifth, and the sixth, and the seventh.

apparatchik crushing the seed pods

It is a cold bright day in April. I wake up forgetting who I am or what I look like. I live alone with the television, just in case. I can still remember a few words and something about

red death behind the masque only eyes

after The Masque of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe

Susan Beth Furst



…..and joining me now is the Pry Minister.

Thanks, Kirsty… latest unelected advisor’s brainchild is an utterly foolproof vaccine passport that’s sure to appeal to all right-minded listeners as a means of excluding the damaged and the scared, while our nouveau elite is guaranteed a warm welcome at the cinema, the nightclub, the polling booth…..

hospital bus
a stony

Helen Buckingham


the apparition

Hers was a lonely life. After dad’s passing, she stayed alone. Soon her dog died too. My two sisters and I were married and away. Mom would get up early every morning, make herself a cup of tea and talk to an apparition of dad. The dementia was kicking in…

for years
the same morning stillness
déjà vu

Mona Bedi

the apparition

Love Potion

The petri dish holds the weaponized mycoplasma, nonchalantly referred to as GBS, used in test immunizations required for some soldiers, among them his brother Niel. The paralysis, which begins with an innocent tingle, climbs his extremities to strangle both strength and feeling. Holding the petri dish becomes a challenge so he turns his palm heavenward and points his middle finger.

a dead man
blows the whistle

Marilyn Ashbaugh

Love Potion

A Right Jab

Conspiracy theories bubblewrap the vaccine’s debut during the third lockdown.  Chatter of alien DNA and big bro trackers make my mind up: I want  the jab.  Stardust courses through my veins and  I never know which universe I’m in.  Besides, Pan is a hungry god and I don’t want to be lunch.

a black moon
in Medusa clouds . . .
longing for darkness

Marilyn Ashbaugh

A Right Jab

In Absence of Live Music

Each day an instrument plucked or blown on the wind from inherited depths. The agony of all that’s left. Echo of waves in the sweep of ink.

Monday. Turn of the violin. Whisper of shavings that brush on the floor. Gleam of sunlight in tune with the grain.

young girl’s eyes
as she follows the bow
lark rise

Tuesday. Flute  Bone. Run of small perforations that ripple her fingers.

busker’s notes spiral
in sync with snake coils
his empty bowl

Wednesday. Ancient conch. Hornblower’s lips embrace at the tip.

score of thousands
years before time
the past resounds

Thursday. Drum. Tightness of skin on the rim of the frame.

beat of his heart
to the pounding of fists.
distant sirens

Friday. A gap in the place where the piano one stood.

afloat from her dream
his settings of her poems
vibrations of silence

Diana Webb

In Absence of Live Music