Masks by Michael Hall
We were wearing
Before COVID came –
And now we wear
The essential services
Of our mouths
And common noses.
Yet we are still
Never not quite clear –
For the trick
Of staying close
Is not just hand
Tracing or standing
But all squeezing
Into the lifted
Elbow of these islands
Because the kind
Of fragile cities
That practise kindness
When you sneeze.
Sweet rain by Karen Zelas
The guy runs slowly, in fact, a hurried walk.
It’s not … ? Yes, it is!
He’s not dressed for the occasion – a purple
sweater and breathable silver coat. His shoes
are made of ore. My mind turns on itself, I want
to keep pace instead of space. Perhaps there’s
iron pyrites in those soles. Fool’s Gold.
Neck and neck, and now
head down, he forces others to stick to the far side
of the aisle – Cossack, Nivea for Men,
Y-Factor, he passes them all. He coughs,
clutches his chest. I see
a cloud of invisible droplets explode
from his mouth,
drift up, circle back
to settle like so much dandruff
on my head and shoulders.
In awe, I step into … Back off, he says.
Too late. I tilt my face up to receive,
squeeze out my contacts, rub
my eyes. Lick my lips.
Love in Pandemic (my quarantine centre) by Soma Bose
With pandemic’s crooked smile,
with barely veiled hope in my eye,
I was sent to a quarantine center.
I accepted doctors’ advice politely.
“Now here,” they said,
“At least 14 days you have to spare!”
I discovered a beautiful hanging garden there
apple and cherry trees became skyscraper
a little bridge
near the fig tree cluster
A foamy sea was flowing there – a pond.
A little turtle,
like a famed adventurer,
and both of us taking steps together.
High branches were soaring into cloud –
Echoes from the statues in an Empty History Museum by Michele Powles
When you stare at his face
all smooth-white and cool-chiselled jaw
dead in the eyes like a fish
tumbled out onto the hard
packed ice of a supermarket display,
you wonder at all the voices
who called out loudly
THIS IS THE BEST MAN CAN GET.
When you comment, “Really? That guy?”
then hush yourself before someone scowls
and tells you off in fast Italian,
your kid laughs at you,
moves the cursor and continues the virtual tour
Popes and Self-Appointed Gods
thought should be caught,
for us to LEARN
Your kid looks at the litany of men and power
asks, whether any of them realised
they’d just let the world see
they all had small dicks.
He clicks, shifts, swings the cursor on a wild ride
through the crushing power of over-confidence,
brings you back
to the centre of the Pio Clementino
where Apollo Belvedere
name like a song,
a guy PROGRESS called perfect for decades,
looks down at you,
unable to say they made me do it
to use his
tiny mended hands
to hide the fact
that his dick is puny too.
COVID Collage by CAJ Williams
i owe my life to jenny from invercargill cindy’s
kindy quarantine cabin fever we’ll be back to
work by easter millennials should sacrifice themselves
we’re testing too much the wage subsidy doesn’t pay
my rent masks are for losers team of five million
jacinda fucked super rugby be kind look after your
neighbours dad’s last few moments on facetime the
wuhan flu i’m a war-time prime minister i’ve no
idea how teachers put up with kids all day rough
sleepers in quarantine it’s a disaster for the porn
production industry socialists want to attack my god-
given freedoms the koru club is closed we should
donate to food banks the second wave came from an
islander over-stayer cluster qr code test car queues
he waka eke noa a vaccine due before christmas
Soma Bose completed her study in Political Science Hons and gratuated from Kolkata University. Later, she settled in Pune, India. She started her writing with small features on Indian Express. Gradually, she moved on to fiction writing. Some of her stories and poems are published on the Scotland-based online journal, Friday Flash Fiction, the US journal, 100words and Indus Woman Writing.
Michael Hall lives in Dunedin. Recent poems of his have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry NZ Yearbook 2020, Milly Magazine, takahe and The Spinoff. Michael also recently participated in Dunedin’s celebration of National Poetry Day.
Despite training in law (or perhaps because of it), Michele Powles has been a writer, producer and dancer across the globe, from India to Bosnia, Brazil to Edinburgh. She is now the mother of two boys, both equally obsessed with creating new worlds (mostly under their beds). Michele was New Zealand’s 2010 Robert Burns Fellow and her fiction and non-fiction has been published widely across many mediums and broadcast for radio both in New Zealand and the UK. As an emerging screenwriter, she was selected for the 2018 FilmUp program and the 2020-2021 FFS International Talent Lab held in conjunction with Toronto, Rotterdam and Sydney International Film Festivals. www.michelepowles.com
C.A.J. Williams is an Otago School poet. His recent work can be found in Landfall, broadsheet, and The Cricket Society Bulletin. His first collection 35 Short Poems appeared in 2016. A second collection Clarion will appear in 2021. He lives in Wellington.
Karen Zelas lives and writes in Christchurch. She is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Trials of Minnie Dean: a verse biography (Mākaro Press, 2017). She is also a playwright and indie publisher: http://www.pukeko-pukapuka.com