Masks by Michael Hall

We were wearing
Before COVID came –
And now we wear

Them over
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
Washing, contact
Tracing or standing

But all squeezing
Into the lifted
Elbow of these islands
Because the kind

Of fragile cities
That practise kindness
Become uncertain
When you sneeze.

Photo credit Michael Hall


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.
I want

Brightens the day, image by Karen Zelas


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 –
Nature’s applause.

Image by Soma Bose


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

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
of everything
Popes and Self-Appointed Gods
thought should be caught,

held down

in stone

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.

sketch by Michele Powles


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.

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: