The Interpretation Of Silence In A Time Of COVID by Sia Figiel 

Sometimes you are

& sometimes
You are

Like a nocturnal plant
Whose flowers open
In the silence of
The night
& the scent becomes
So intoxicating
It drowns you both
& you float on
The wings of
Multiverses of
Meaning only
You understand
As you meditate
On the memory
Of the time you met
In a room
Off the freeway
In a country
That keeps reminding you
You don’t belong
Where they don´t speak
Your language
So that when your eyes
First met
And you heard
Each other’s name
Your feet tingled
& you talked ´til dawn
Knowing you
Had to leave
& yet all at once
As if transfixed
By some weird magic
Love descended
On you
& completely
Despite the knowledge
That you would not
See each other again
You found yourselves
Ravished by
The sounds of
& traffic
So sweet
& you danced unashamedly
To every groovy
70´s love
Song on the radio
Even burnt eggs made
You smile
& you found yourselves smiling
Simultaneously when
Ever you saw a text
Or his name
Across your screen
And you imagined him
Blushing on the train
Like he said he did
Next to that older man
As he covered his phone
With that coy smile
& together you
Swallowed the whole of
The moon
Tasting its wondrous
Fruit &
Love becomes
Knows no boundaries
Between you
There is no between
Until suddenly
Another silence descends
Heavy & dark
& green
& thoughts that were once
Exquisite bloom
& suspicion
& an ache starts
To grow
Devouring the joy
Of everything
Between you
& the leaves of
The nocturnal plant
Fall, fall, fall
Withering before
Your very eyes
Only this time
The magic has
And you find your
Self sulking on Venus
With nothing
Nothing but plain
Burnt eggs
As you exit
The freeway
& turn
Off the radio
Deaf to the wings
Of hummingbirds
Dancing outside &
Fuck this traffic
& these traffic lights too.

image by Sia Figiel


the thing is by John Allison

it’s what we do to get a breather

pausing on a track to see the view
how far we’ve come and yet how much further

without distancing there
is no landscape because there is no scope

and therefore no escape

because getting it only comes with the territory
both the terra and our terror

that strict imperative to be lost to be found

seeing the lie of the land
seeing the truth of it laid out as it were

it is always what we have to do

seeing it just as it is and also as it was
seeing what remains


it is what we do with love
and it is always what we face with death

to see what comes close
and in the end just what it is stays near

there is the one beloved you’ve accompanied
that far and further

often therefore so much nearer

or your lover
left over ten thousand kilometres away

still muttering in your bed at night


the thing is that
a gap allows deliberation

intimacy is only what it is
through closing in on attained distances

the thing is every other closeness is suspect

even maybe a kind of cognitive closure

the thing is however that everything distanced
comes up close and personal

at 3am each night
asking its insistent questions

image by John Allison


The Proximity Detector by Don McIver

For the last year, my smart phone has a dumb, if not annoying, malfunction.
The malfunctioning part darkens the phone while the phone is next to my ear
But doesn’t lighten it when I pull it away to hang up, access the speaker, or use the keypad.
It’s broken.
The “proximity detector” is broken.

I didn’t even know that was thing when I started researching this problem,
And found that my particular brand seemed prone to this malfunction.
Oh well, I thought,
as I researched work arounds.
I can’t hang up, so one workaround was to leave messages,
which I almost always have to do, that tells people:

“Hi, long message, but the proximity detector on my phone is broken
so there is probably going to be a bit of silence on the end of this message.
I’ll tell you when I’m officially done leaving the message,
so you don’t have listen to a lot of silence.”

And then go on with the actual message.
Eventually, the voice mail will figure out that I’m not talking and disconnect.

For the last year, my father has been in hospice.
A cancer survivor he’s stopped all the unpleasant treatments
And is just waiting for his prostate cancer to do its thing,
which is basically kill him.
Still lucid we’d talk weekly and brighten each others’ weeks.
As the pandemic started he took a turn for worse
And got sick a bit more, started experiencing a lot more pain
And just moved into the next phase
where his body would just slowly die.
A waiting game, I’ve traded text messages and emails with my mom and siblings,
And left messages on his phone.

But today, I called and
seeing how he was supposed to wake up to take some pills,
got to talk to him a bit.
He was not very lucid and slurred his words a bit,
and I could tell he was really tired.
So I lied,

“I’m ready if you’re ready.”

I promised I’d check in with Mom,
then just said,



But he was too out of it to hang up,
and I couldn’t,
so the line stayed open as I put the phone in my pocket and walked on.

Finally my sister picked up and asked if I was there,
I was and explained my phone and how the better part of the last year
My father and I have been unable to hang up,
say, “Goodbye,”
And even now with his death just days away,
We still just couldn’t hang up,
Just couldn’t say,


Maps by Joanne Durham

Every home
needs a map of the world.
Hang it by the entrance.
Bless it as you might
a cross or a mezuzah
when you come and go.
Trace your finger across continents
not your own.
Say names of countries whose sounds
tickle your throat and move your lips
differently from your own language.
Be curious about who lives there,
sharing seas and stars.
Hope to meet them,
fellow earth-dwellers,
all calling this planet


Sounds of Early Summer by Nelson Wattie

In the tree
outside my window
birds were singing

The sunshine sang
in broader tones,
like a canopious

Suddenly a siren
called two streets away:
ambulance or

Somewhere someone
suffered something wrong
or else, more simply,

The whisper of the tree
as wind invaded it
surrounded and restrained
the birds’ ambitious tunes.


John Allison lives in Heathcote Valley near Christchurch His fifth collection, A Place To Return To, was published in August 2019. A chapbook of new poems, Near Distance, appeared at the end of last October, also out of Cold Hub Press.

Joanne Durham is a retired educator living on the coast of North Carolina, USA. With the ocean as her backyard, there’s always a poem waiting for her to find. She was a 2021 finalist for the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies including Flying South, Pinesong, Poetry in Plain Sight, and Your Daily Poem, as well as national teaching journals.

Sia Figiel´s poetry and novels have been translated to German, French, Catalan, Danish and Spanish. She is currently translating Robert Louis Stevenson´s novella ´The Beach Of Falesa’ to Samoan. Sia´s first novel, where we once belonged, was the winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book for the South East-Asia/South Pacific region. Other notable works include The Girl in The Moon Circle, They Who Do Not Grieve, To A Young Artist in Contemplation, TERENESIA amplified poetry with the poet and scholar Dr. Teresia Teaiwa and Freelove, a novel. She is grateful to the poet Vaughan Rapatahana for alerting her to this site. Kia kaha.

Don McIver is a six-time member of the ABQ slam team, the host/producer of KUNM’s Afternoon Freeform, and editor of A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene. He’s a teacher and administrator at Central New Mexico Community College.

Nelson Wattie was born in Napier, where he attended school before tertiary studies in Auckland, Wellington, Vienna, Cologne and Wuppertal. After a short career as an opera and concert singer, he taught at universities in Riyadh, Cologne, Frankfurt and Mannheim. For the past thirty years he has been freelancing as a translator and writer in Wellington.