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coronavirus

2021 Contributing Writers Pandemic Prose

Dear Mr. Corona

Written by Neelam Epstein Mukherjee

It was the morning of April 15th when I first saw Mr. Corona. His body was a particularly ugly shade of green with sharp spikes sticking out of his head. But unlike regular monsters, he was small and had an almost kind face. I was playing with John in our front yard with a toy water gun. We were running around gleefully, spraying water on each other, and creating quite a ruckus. It was Wednesday morning but these days we no longer have school, and the rules at home were different. We had to do our regular school assignments at home, but the schedule was more lenient.

“John, did you see? I saw him. I saw him!” I yelled, jumping up and down.

“Who? What are you talking about? And come back here. Don’t go out on the streets. Mom will not like it.” John replied with the usual haughtiness of an elder brother, given the task of keeping an eye out for the younger sibling.

 “It was Mr. Corona. I saw him coming out from Mr. Radley’s house. I need to tell mom. She must take care of Mr. Radley.”

Mom always takes care of people. Even though we were all at home, mom still went to work every day to fight Mr. Corona. When Mr. Corona did not like someone, they ended up with a boo-boo in the hospital. Mom then helped them to treat their boo-boos so that they could get better. 

I would often ask mom “Why can’t their moms take care of them? Are their moms not special like you?”

Mom would laugh and pat my head and say “They are, baby girl. All moms are special, but God has chosen a few of us to take care of people when their moms can’t be there.”

“So, you just kiss their boo-boo and they get better?”

My mom would shake her head and reply, “No sweetie, Mr. Corona does not like people to hug or kiss.”

 “I don’t like Mr. Corona, he sounds mean.” I would pout. “And he also closed my school.”

Right now, though, I was jumping up and down excitedly.

“Don’t talk nonsense, Bella, I told you it’s a virus. You can’t see it.” John gave me an irritated look.

“You don’t know anything; I am going inside to tell mom.” I said adamantly and dashed to our living room.

Mom was making stir fry, my favorite dish, when I walked into the kitchen.

“Mom, I saw Mr. Corona at Mr. Radley’s house. He did not look too scary.”

 My mom laughed and flopped my hair.

 “Did you tell him anything?”

“No mom, he was too far away. I wanted to tell him something important.”

My mom thought about it for a moment,

“Umm, why don’t you write him a letter? Then, maybe we can ask Fairy T to deliver it to him.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea mom! I will write him a letter.”

Once in my room, I made sure that the doors were securely shut so that no one, especially John, could disrupt my critical mission. I brought out all my poster supplies — boards, sharpies, sparkly pens, and my most precious possession — my crayon box of 72 colors, which dad gave me on my last birthday. Finally, convinced that I had all the needed supplies and everything was secure and safe, I started writing:

Dear Mr. Corona,

I am Annabelle. But my family and friends call me Bella. I am in the third grade and my teacher, Miss Honey, says that I am her favorite student. I am a good girl, Mr. Corona, so, I hope you will listen to my request. I know you are in a bad mood and unhappy with the world. So, you are punishing everyone by giving them boo-boos. But I have been very good this year. Even without classes, I completed all my homework, which mom and dad gave me.

I have a request Mr. Corona. My birthday is in 2 weeks and I always have lots of fun with my friends at school, and grandma at her house. Can you please leave so that my school can open, and I can also go visit my grannie? I promise I will  behave well throughout the year and will not even argue with John. Please, Mr. Corona! Please don’t make me spend my birthday by myself.

Love,

Annabelle.

To complete the letter, I drew a smiley face and a rainbow at the end. I also wrote Mr. Corona in sparkly green to match the color of his body.

I woke up feeling excited the next morning. I could hear mom getting ready for work. I rushed to her room and showed her my letter. My mom smiled as she read it.

“That’s a very pretty letter, Bella. I am sure Mr. Corona will consider it. Why don’t we keep it underneath your bed tonight, so Fairy T can take it and deliver it to him? Does that sound good?”

I gave her a big nod and said,“Yes, mom that’s good. Then I can tell John too and he will be sorry that he ever made fun of my idea.”

My Mom patted my back and said, “Ok Bella, I must leave now. You be a good girl for dad today, ok.” She left, kissing me goodbye.

That night, right after I had my dinner, I put my letter in a big envelope that I took from dad’s office. I wrote “To Mr. Corona” and put it under my bed. Next morning, to my relief, it was gone. I was happy that it was in the safe hands of Fairy T, and Mr. Corona would get it soon.

Two weeks later my birthday came but I still did not hear anything back from Mr. Corona. My school was still closed. I was still not allowed to visit any of my friends or grannie.

We were all sitting to eat breakfast on Sunday. Mom had taken the day off to celebrate my birthday and made us a big breakfast. We had a whole lot of different dishes and my favorite blueberry pancakes.

“Wow Jenny. This is quite a spread.” My dad said sitting down at the table.

 “I think we all needed a good hearty family breakfast to start off Bella’s birthday.” Mom said, with a big smile.

 She was about to sit down where her phone rang.

“What, when, where are they taking her? Yes ok, I will be there, but I don’t think they are allowing any visitors.”

 I could see from her face that she was worried and turned to dad and said in a very serious voice,

 “That was James. They think mom may have caught it. She has all the symptoms and was having breathing difficulty in the morning. They hospitalized her just now. She is in the ICU.”

Mom left, hardly touching the huge breakfast she had prepared. I was fuming inside at Mr. Corona. How could he do this? He not only did not leave but now had made my most favorite person sick.

My birthday turned out to be more of a nightmare. Mom had rushed to meet the doctors at grannie’s hospital. John had shut himself off in his room with his Playstation in some online game party. I was left with dad who tried hard to cheer me up. But even my new Frozen doll set failed to interest me.

Finally, I heard mom’s car in the driveway and rushed to greet her. My mom smiled and said,

“I know you did not have a good birthday dear, but I got something special for you.” She said, shutting the car door.

“What? Mom?”

She brought out a letter.

“Grannie gave it to Uncle Jammy.” She said handing it to me.

 I took the letter and my eyes almost bulged out of its sockets.

“But mom, it says Mr. Corona.”

“I know.” She smiled.

“Maybe Mr. Corona gave it to grannie. I am just the messenger. You can read and tell me what he wrote.”

I could not contain my excitement and excused myself to go to my room to read the letter by myself. The letter was written on a hospital letterhead and seemed to be written in haste. But nevertheless, I started reading it.

Dear Bella,

This is Mr. Corona. Thank you for writing to me. I liked your pink paper and the pretty green color; I am happy you did not hate me because I look different. I apologize that your school is closed, and you have not seen your friends in a long time. I am sorry you are always stuck at home and now your grannie is sick on your birthday and you can’t visit her house like you do every year. I know the world is in chaos and, it’s especially hard for children like you. But I came here as a reminder to this world to slow down and set its priorities straight. Human greed one day will lead to its own destruction; and me and this pandemic are no different. Fortunately, kids like you will always have the power to change that. You are a good girl, Bella, and I know one day you will become a great woman. Just remember that you have all the tools within yourself to fight any evil. Selfishness landed us where we are now and if we keep on thinking just about ourselves, we will never win this battle. So, plant that tree and wear that mask but as an amazing lady once said, “do it in a way that makes others want to join you rather than fight you.” As you grow old, you will come across all types of people, some like you and some very different. Don’t be afraid. Remember that we are more similar than we realize, there is more that unites us than what divides us. If you disagree with someone, try to express your views with respect. Be humble, be respectful but don’t be afraid to use your voice if you see something wrong. Unfortunately, Bella I can’t tell you when I will be gone from this world, all I know is I will go when people stop being selfish and start working together. Till then, you must be patient and take care of your parents and brother.

Sadly yours,

Mr. Corona

P.S. I met your grandmother in the hospital. I think she will be ok but if not, she wanted me to tell you that you are the bravest girl she knows and nothing in her life has made her happier than to be your grannie. She loves you dearly Bella!

At that moment I heard a knock on the door and my mom peeped in.

“Oh, sweet girl, are you ok?”

I had not realized when my eyes teared up, but I felt that my face was wet now. My mom put me on her lap and kissed my forehead, and we stayed like that for a while. “How do you feel dear?”

Wiping my tears, I could only come up with one word “Hopeful.” Then I added, “Mom, I think we are going to be ok.”

At that, my mom hugged me even tighter and said, “I needed to hear that today baby girl; you have no idea how badly I needed to hear that today.”


Dr. Neelam Epstein Mukherjee works in cancer research but her parents and wife, Camela, inspire her to continue writing. “Dear Mr. Corona” focuses on the pandemic from a child’s perspective.

2021 Art Contributing Creators Contributing Writers Pandemic Poetry

Cataclysmic Age

Art and Text by Gordon Lewis

Pieces of your soul

Gasp at the medieval jumble
Weʼre swimming in the abysmal soup
A plague that has spread
We live in infested quarters

Culture fails in this new world
The Dark Ages are alive and well
Theyʼve found their dwelling place
In the bowels of the states

Can you grasp the reality?
We live our lives on the screen
Hoping to find some meaning
But it slips out of our grip

Modern day renaissance man
Looking to beautify the world
When everything looks bleak
Pick up the pieces of your soul

Lux Lucis Ferre

Die solis invikti nati
When the Sun rises again
Saturn spins around our head
We see the solstice occur
Knowing that light is on the horizon
Weʼve gotten over the darkest days
But new challenges lie ahead
We cannot back off
Especially now when nature needs us the most
Let the rays of Phosphoros shine
Lux-Lucis Ferre

Abu Rowash

Subhuman enemy
Apocalyptic axioms
Simplest stratagem
Biowarfare blankers
Cataclysmic specie
Hellbent messiah
Unholy matrimony
Scarred Disciple
Temple of Abu Rowash
High Priest exalted
Mysterious omen
Torn Scrolls
The end is the beginning
The prophecy foretold
In ancient scripture
The numbers align


Gordon Lewis is a writer, musician, photographer, and artist currently residing in Colorado where he enjoys being in nature and working on his creative endeavors.

2020 Contributing Writers Pandemic Poetry

Still

Written by Amy Steingart

In this moment I am bone-weary
I can go on, but I can’t.
In this moment my foolish hopes spiral up –
and spiral down.
In this moment I try to
hold my daughter up,
keep her head above water;
to keep her afloat to
keep us both from living on the ground,
bone-weary.
In this moment I avoid headlines, reality.
In this moment I want to be smart, speak knowledgeably
when my friends say how does it feel?
I need to say something.
How does it feel to be in the epicenter?
they say – how terrifying!
and
how are you able to function? and
can you get toilet paper? and
do you wear a mask?


Do you ever hear sirens?
Yes. Yes I do. I hear sirens
all day and all night.
they have to be
hushed background noise,
a murmur
so I can stay above water
and not live on the ground,
bone-weary.


Can do you sleep? Do you have nightmares? How does it feel?


How does it feel?
It feels
weary
weary in my bones, in my skin,
my eyes my hair in the tips of my fingernails.
I am so weary.
In this moment the sun is fighting with clouds
outside my window,
it draws my eye.

In this moment, light penetrates my arm,
whispers to my skin
illuminates my bones
vibrates.
For this moment I can breathe.
I am here
I am still here
I am still.


Amy Steingart lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Oberlin College studying English, creative writing, and theater. Her first poetry collection, I Am Where You Have Put Your Eggs, was published in June 2019 from Small White Cat Press. She is a co-founder and editor of Writers’ Bloc.

www.amysteingartpoetry.com

2020 Comic Contributing Creators Pandemic

Project Moonshot

Text and Art by Dave Miller

This is a comic looking at the wild promises from politicians and the sheer incompetence in managing the virus, as the second wave rushes towards us.


Dave Miller’s artistic interests lie in telling political stories which engage with current issues, and forces affecting our lives. See more of his work at DaveMiller.org.

See the comic in the upcoming book PANDEMIC; WHERE ARE WE STILL GOING WRONG published by Bite-Sized Books.

2020 Contributing Writers Pandemic Poetry

Where are those smiles?

Written by Bhuwan Thapaliya

Sitting in my living room
watching the slits of moonlight
peeping through the louvered window,
I sip a cup of lemon tea and get nostalgic.
Vivid pictures of tiny toddlers
going to the school
holding their grandparent’s hand
dances before me.
And the emancipated smile
on the face of a woman
driving an electric tempo
in the streets of Kathmandu teases me.
I am missing seeing an elderly man
having tea and happily gossiping
with his friends at the roadside tea stalls,
a yard away from his children’s reverie.
And I desperately miss looking
at an old Nepalese woman
in her traditional attire feeding pigeons at
Hanumandhoka Durbar Square
with dancing pigeons all around.
I am missing the glimpses of a normal life.
Where are those smiles?
I toss and turn in my bed
hundred times every night
as the clouds that
roars and mumbles in the sky.
I toss and turn.
Horrid images of children
with no childhood
flashes before my eye.
No tangible relief in sight.


Nepalese poet, Bhuwan Thapaliya is the author of four poetry collections and is currently working on his fresh poetry collection, The Marching Millions.  His main theme often hinges around the globalization of love, peace, and universal solidarity. His poems and articles have been widely published in such journals and periodicals such as Kritya, The Foundling Review,  Strong Verse, Pratik, Taj Mahal Review, Nuveine Magazine, Poetry Life and Times, VOICES ( Education Project), The Vallance Review, Longfellow Literary Project, The Global Politician, and Poets Against the War.