Impressions, Dreams, Prayers, Dread & Blessings – A Pandemic Compendium

Reyna N. Vasquez Bisono

Quarantine Day: Unknown

~sana sana colita de rana

Day 1 of quarantine and my mom has already given me a mug nearly overflowing with freshly squeezed lemon juice
My face puckers up after every sip
But my mom says “sigue tomando, vamos a ver si este virus no se aleja con eso”

~si no te sanas hoy

Hispanic natural remedies are nearly always nasty but ask anyone (my grandma) and they’ll swear by it
Gargle vinegar and drink enough tea that by the time quarantine is over you
won’t want to be within
10 feet of any of it for at least a few weeks
I had to drink a radish, onion, and honey mixture today- not horrible

~te sanaras manana

Every sneeze used to be followed by a “salud”
Now nothing less than small prayer is adequate
I swear I’m not sick because of course we have to get through an epidemic
just as allergy season starts
My mom gets no less than 4 phone calls from my aunt a day, 5 from my
grandma, 2 from my other aunt, and so on…
social distancing, meet WhatsApp

Reyna N. Vasquez Bisono is an emerging writer and a DACA recipient who currently lives in Brentwood, New York with her parents and older brother. Her book, “Random Thoughts Breed Expressive Monologues” is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle E-Book version. Twitter: @BisonoReyna, IG: @Reyna_N_V & @ReynaWrites_

Madison Zehmer

when this is over
I want to be something like dusk
stepping into flame /
a phoenix opening its eyes
for the first time since its rebirth /
greeting earth with a prayer

Madison Zehmer @madisonzehmer is a poet and wannabe historian from North Carolina, with published and forthcoming work in Déraciné, Drunk Monkeys, Gone Lawn, LandLocked, and others. She is editor in chief of Mineral Lit Mag, and her first chapbook, “Unhaunting,” will be released by Kelsay Books in 2021.

Image: Field of Roses A photo by Moira J. Saucer @MJSEyesOpened with digital manipulation by Robert Frede Kenter @frede_kenter

Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Living in 2020: Revelations

There is no elixir—the midday sun
has moved to Skid Row, won’t return
calls—surrounds himself with spiny
aloe plants, no longer full with shiny,
thick pulp. Crocus bulbs try to grow
in the shallow, damp sewer, but they’re mottled
with mold and never live longer than an hour.

The alleyways are on fire
spitting out flurries of broken glass.
We inhale hairspray instead of oxygen,
say “thank you” for the toxic mist.

The planets and stars are in their
opulent chateaus, feasting on trays
of chocolates and cookies—gulping
down wine, smearing gold onto their skin.

They watch us move like matchsticks
in ashtrays, as we try to claw
our way out from under the briar patch.

Marisa Silva-Dunbar‘s work has been published in 24 Neon Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Cabinet of Heed, and Marias At Sampaguitas. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic, and is part of the Legend City Collective. Her work is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, The Rising Phoenix Review, Sybil Journal, and The Charles River Journal. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris.

Turn of the Beast — A Collaboration by Samuel Strathman and Manahil Bandukwala

For Ellen Chang-Richardson.

Raindrops diminuendo, clarity of a
razor blade supper. This throat of mine is
complete arterial genocide – dichotomy
of mania. I’ve been traipsing between
villages for so long.
As day turns to night,
a man can transform into a monster
with the intermittence of spitfire —
convulsive neck elongation. Every nail grows gnarly –
to skewer plums. Legs contort,
preternaturally, the curve of my back arches
further and further – all the better for the prowl –

I’ve been traipsing
between villages for so long –
To weather the effects of a deluge.

Hunger depends solely on approximation.
This thirst of mine is made to linger.
There are limitless hunts ahead of me –
simpleton flesh.
Wind milling
along the escarpment.

Trouble is –
Due to fog, visibility is lacking,
a spectral Loch
Ness roving an endless river. Rain has made
earth boggy
instead of complimenting
hills and forest. Perhaps this place already
has been ravaged, unbeknownst.

It would be wise to construct lodgings
before my appearance gets me arrested,
executed. Better wait this out, then find another town,
tsunamis away, where I can be safe.
Let panic stir, then, and
only then. I’ve been traipsing
between villages for so long.
A creature like me far from islands.
Let the islands come to the wretch.

Samuel Strathman @_strathman_ (words): is a Jewish/Canadian poet, author, educator, and editor at Cypress:  A Poetry Journal.  Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Train, White Wall Review, NoD Literary Magazine, Dusie, and elsewhere.  His first chapbook, “In Flocks of Three to Five” will be released later this year.  He lives in Toronto, Ontario.  

Manahil Bandukwala @manaaaahil (drawing) is a Pakistani writer and visual artist. Her most recent project, Reth aur Reghistan, is a multidisciplinary exploration of Pakistani folklore, and is carried out in collaboration with her sister, Nimra. See more at See more of her visual art at

Marc di Saverio


you’ll go
I see
through me
I know
you’ll go
and I see
through me.
and I wave x3
I sow
youth’s glow.
I reap
faith’s leap.
I know
red snow
and I reap
the friends I heap
and I wave x3
Take me to the party –
You say people want to
see me there?
I’d like to look across
the street
and catch a girl in her
take me to the party;
you say people want to
see me there?
Tomorrow I might die
so tonight I
I ride
I ride
I won’t die
I’ll ride
I’ll ride.
And I ride
I ride
I ride
I won’t die.

Marc di Saverio @MarcSaverio hails from Hamilton, Canada. His poems and translations have appeared internationally. In Issue 92 of Canadian Notes and Queries Magazine, di Saverio’s Sanatorium Songs (2013) was hailed as “the greatest poetry debut from the past 25 years.” In 2016 he received the City of Hamilton Arts Award for Best Emerging Writer. In 2017, his work was broadcasted on BBC Radio 3, his debut became a best seller in both Canada and the United States, and he published his first book of translations: Ship of Gold: The Essential Poems of Emile Nelligan (Vehicule Press). Forthcoming is his epic poem, Crito Di Volta. He is currently writing his first novel, The Daymaker. Di Saverio studied English and History at McMaster University, but never took a degree. Di Saverio’s poem, “Weekend Pass”, was adapted into the movie, CANDY — directed by Cassandra Cronenberg, and starring the author himself — which went to the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013.

Banner Art: Nesting by Robert Frede Kenter @frede_kenter

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