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2020 Contributing Writers Pandemic Prose

Meeting Outside

Written by Kathryn Cardin

I know that girl sitting in the window, warmly backlit by low-watt bulbs. She is dark, she is a shadow. A slow drag of a cigarette, a raised bottle to the mouth. She knows I’m watching but I’m too far below for her to see me.

More bodies move in the back near the light source. They laugh a guttural laugh and break what sounds like a plate against the floor. They laugh harder and more. Her feet edge up the windowpane, the toe of one worn-out sneaker in front of the other. She flicks her cigarette the same way I do except mine is always loud and makes a snap and hers is silent. Does she mind that her friends, or whomever is up there, just broke one of her dishes? Maybe she has dishes for breaking. 

I grab my own throat. It’s a tic, like a nervous tic when I don’t know what else to do with my hands. I don’t choke myself, just place my hand so my windpipe becomes conscious. It’s funny, I hate when some people touch my neck, or even their own necks. Like doctors, feeling for a node. Or when people in movies slit throats (their own, their enemy’s). In real life, it would make me sick, too. I’ve just only seen it on screen. If you kill me someday please just don’t go for the neck. Anywhere else is fine. 

But while fucking I do like to be choked. I always seem to cough right before my brain winks out. I have a strained relationship with throats. It’s either harder, harder, or pure repulsion. Intubating? How even—

She’s gone from the window and it’s been lowered to a crack. Remnants of her sit on the fire escape: an empty can for ash, a dried-up plant I’m sure she’s never watered. Maybe over watered. I don’t think she’s ever watered it. 

I look at my own window. Past it, into the conjoined living room and kitchen. There is no difference between where I am now and inside. In there the air still has a tinge of something bad. Old smoke. Dog. Out here it’s rotten wood. Dog. I think about who lives there. Me, of course. But someone else, too. I think about how differently we live in the exact same space. How we use the same shower and shampoo but we smell nothing alike. 

I tap my grown-out and unpainted nails on the tabletop. I haven’t bartended in three months, so my nails are unusually long and have been throwing off my balance. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been returning anyone’s texts: the clicking on the glass screen all uneven and acute. Or maybe it’s because isolation breeds more isolation when it comes to me

I don’t think I’m alone in this isolation, though. Ha. There are tons of girls in tons of windows and tons of people sitting in shadows looking up at them. Maybe she will be my friend. We are neighbors, after all. 

I glance up and the window has opened again but her and her shadow are gone. The voices are gone, too. Now it’s just the hiss of summer air and my nails tapping against grime and tempered glass. As if the tapping is Morse Code she appears, summoned to look out at the window a final time. “Hey,” I speak. I am shocked at myself. Being social at a time like this? She responds, “hey,” and tosses a hard seltzer out the window and over the fire escape barrier bars like it’s something I asked to borrow. “Want to come up?” she asks. 

I do. 

Kathryn Cardin lives in Brooklyn, NY with her dog, cat, and boyfriend. She is a freelance writer/editor and co-publisher of Tart magazine. Follow her on Instagram @slimkatyyy.

2020 Article Contributing Writers Pandemic

The Birth of Society’s Creativity in the Midst of the COVID-19 Crises

Written by Amanda Alysia Daniels

Creative ideas manifested into action may be deemed a survival mechanism.

In a crisis, creativity and innovation reign supreme. One becomes sparked in accessing a new path of ideas that were not previously considered. Meeting a newly developed demand whether externally or internally, requires being stirred to act. These moments are where creativity’s potential transitions into a solidified existence.

Today’s climate has initiated creativity from all walks of life by way of existing challenges in safety precautions and social isolation, due to an unrelenting virus. According to Erika Alvarez of Fremont, California, “It feels like a third world war. How do you fight against an enemy that you cannot see? It’s hard to combat something you can’t see.” COVID-19 appears to want to dominate the lives of the living while remaining undetected. However, this virus also stimulates minds into seeking a way to endure safely in a less than traditional manner.

When COVID-19 arrived, social isolation came along with it. From school and business closures to cancelled entertainment events and social connections, this virus impacted how we as humans interacted with one another. Society took to getting creative in how social distance was maintained with strangers as well as with those we love. In practicing social regulations, physical contact was strongly discouraged. What was welcomed? Facetiming. Some individuals went so far as to set “Netflix dates” by utilizing Facetime and streaming Netflix together from separate homes to continue social connections and dating life.

To keep physical distance in practice and the virus at bay, students from all grade levels and colleges attended instruction via online platforms. For example, elementary school teachers from New Haven Unified School District located in Union City, California reported to empty morning classes in order to video lectures for their students. Teachers were still teaching and students were still learning. While some classes were held online for older individuals, younger students at home required supervision and creative stimulation, like 4-year-old, Prakash Vindero of Fremont, California. Prakash was in preschool and according to his mother Indira, Prakash needed constant engagement as he grew bored easily. Because Prakash enjoyed plants, Indira created a mini garden in the family’s backyard to facilitate Prakash’s learning while also engaging him in something he loved.

Another challenge encouraging creativity due to COVID-19 was seen within entertainment venues, bars, dining, shopping, concerts, and festivities. According to, San Jose Mercury News, to further prevent the spread of the virus, California had become less restrictive on alcohol. The golden state also lifted a ban on alcohol sold through drive-thru windows. This method allowed for businesses to maintain some form of financial earnings in the wake of COVID-19, while also complying with emergency health order. With that nice alcoholic drink for pick up, arrived an alternative form of musical entertainment to go along with it, some recording artists offered in-home concerts for their fans. Hip Hop Hollywood said that Neo-Soul artist, Erykah Badu would perform a “Corona Concert” from her bedroom and would cost a $1. Another entertainer offered to Facetime interested individuals for $950. However, she was later criticized for attempting to exploit a health emergency situation for financial gain.

Further entertainment resources such as dining out for celebrations also had become impacted. Veronica Tolentino of Hayward, California, and mother of four stated that this specific Mother’s Day was celebrated with a home-cooked breakfast by her children at the family home. Esther Chavez and her family of Stockton, California appealed to creative actions when they celebrated their mother on Mother’s Day as well. Esther and family members fashioned handheld signs with flowers. They then drove by their mother’s home in vehicles and honked. Afterwards, Esther and her family left the memorabilia on their mother’s doorstep to complete the occasion. Josie Jugarap of Hayward, California could not honor the occasion of having been married to her husband of thirty-eight years at their favorite restaurant. Instead, take-out meals were ordered and their celebratory festivity with family members, cancelled.

Crises are inevitable. COVID-19 reminded society of that notion. Resourcefulness followed closely behind when a steadily increasing virus forced entertainment, work, school, store, and non-essential closures. By way of the challenges presented by COVID-19, all people were forced to think outside of their comfort zone, not only in the name of creativity but also for continued existence.

Amanda Alysia is passionate about law, justice, and truth. She is a current student of law and lover of positive vibrations and light, wherein all good things come about for the good of all those involved.

2020 Pandemic Phillip Morris Prose

The Pit

Written by Phillip Morris

A mass of people wait in a concrete pit open to the wind and rain the dim sun promises to bring. 

Most of the people are black and brown, though there are a few that could pass if they didn’t speak with such a heavy accent. More languages are known between them than there are people in the pit, and yet those in the pit almost never speak to each other. They remain stuck in their spheres of solitude.

There is just enough room for everyone to sit down on the bare ground. Only the smallest among them can stretch out straight. The rest must curl-up on themselves in dirt that’s dark and muddy from still sticking human waste. 

A young mother, is given room to lay with her weakly crying child next to a teen, too skinny and dirty to betray their gender, who scratches another tick in the wall. 

It’s been 124 days by their count. 

Some people came earlier, others came later. A minority were counting the days even before arriving at the pit. Fewer still don’t bother counting at all because all that matters is that this is the end. 

Beyond the wall, the sound of a monstrous machine grows louder. It’s engine roars and echoes inside of the pit. It sounds like it has the power to break through the concrete wall, instead, it stops just beyond. 

From somewhere out of sight a guard and his dog appear on the wall. 

Covered head to toe in blood-red armor the guard patrols unarmed. It’s only ever a single guard per pit, and even that is just for show, there’s little that needs monitoring. It takes four people standing on each other’s shoulders to send a fifth over the top. It’s only ever tried once per pit. Then it becomes clear to everyone below that they’ll never be faster than the lid snapping closed. 

The guard doesn’t need a weapon because his dog is always at his side. As loyal as it is fierce, this dog is the greatest weapon ever made through selective breeding, cybernetics, and genetic engineering. So much so, that no one in the pit can recognize it as a dog. 

Their dogs played with their children and protected their homes. However, this thing on the wall must be kept far away from children and all things precious.

The guard and his dog patrol the perimeter of the concrete pit. Its walls are thick enough that he and the dog can walk comfortably side by side. 

While the man’s on the outer edge, looking beyond, the dog splits its attention between the guard and the people in the pit whose gaze it greets with a growl in the back of its throat, even as they do their best to keep to the side opposite the patrol. 

Someone slips in the filth as the crowd moves around the pit and the dog snaps to attack position, barking loudly with its teeth full bare. The guard stops to look on as the person scrambles back into the throng of pitiful people. The dog reverts back to its perpetual growl.

The guard stops near to where the engine beyond the pit has been idling loudly. A signal from the guard and the engine kicks into gear, this time accompanied by the sound of hydraulics raising something large. 

The dog is barking again. Its joined by another, and another, and another, until its a deafening, terrifying chorus that drowns out all else before a heavy slab of metal slams onto concrete, releasing cries and screams into the mix, and masking the sound of thunder from the clouds bursting above. 

Then there they are, the screaming crying people, standing in the rain on the edge of the pit. Throngs of people. Brown, black, and white people. Miserable people, getting wet like those in the pit. Stopped at the edge, too scared to go forward though there’s clearly nowhere else to go as the guards and dogs corral them in. 

Too well trained to ever break the rules, the dogs snap at the legs, fingers, and toes of those on the edge. Close enough that they can feel the heat of the dogs’ breath, but never enough to claim they’ve been bitten. 

Those at the very edge and close to falling turn around. They use their arms and their pleas to hold the rest back. But there’s too many and their numbers are growing. 

The weakest go over, tearing open the floodgates, so the rest fall, push, or are shoved into the pit. The first to land are crushed beneath those that follow. Their blood mixing with the mud.

Phillip Morris is a Californian living in Amsterdam. When he’s not writing dry instructions he’s writing colorful fiction.

2020 Art Contributing Creators Pandemic Photography

Disposable Gloves

Photos by Andrew Lawrence

In these days of pandemics, natural disasters, and stress, worry and fear about family, friends, and work, we all need a respite, a break. Something positive and uplifting – and quick – to take our mind off our problems – if only for a few moments. In today’s society, and especially in turbulent times, we need something to instantly make us feel better, naturally.

— Andrew Lawrence on the place for art in the pandemic.

Disposable Glove on the Ground
Disposable Glove in Space
Black Disposable Gloves

Andrew Lawrence is a Los Angeles photographic artist with 20 years experience in high-end fashion photography. In the fine art arena, he takes “normal” objects and turns them into colorful, often abstract photos. His recent work also includes a collection of pandemic art. You can find more of his work at www.andrewlawrence.pixels.com.

2020 Contributing Writers Pandemic Poetry

Pandemic

Written by Ann McLean

The world as we knew it has come to an end,
The shelves are bare, no money to spend.
The markets are crashing, we are hoarding and stashing,
The airlines and cruise ships are taking a thrashing.
No handshakes, no hugs, wash your hands scrub your mugs.
No cuddling or kissing, no sharing your bugs.
Keep your distance don’t touch, just smile and stand back,
If you sniffle or sneeze you’ll cause a panic attack.
The virus is spreading all over the planet,
Science can’t stop it, slow it or can it.
Our leaders are stunned, they don’t know what to do
They thought it was just a new strain of the flu.
Trump gave the order, he’s closing the border
And Trudeau’s deflated, he’s now isolated.
Italy and Korea are locked down in fear,
China and Japan, are now in high gear.
Over in London, Boris is blundering,
How long can this last he is constantly wondering.
The media’s gone viral in a continuous spiral,
Reporting the numbers, their staff never slumbers.
The news is depressing, disturbing, distressing
When will it end, it leaves us all guessing.
How will history look back on this epic outbreak
Which shook the whole world like a massive earthquake.
Will we remember it casually, as the corona caper.
When our greatest concern was no more toilet paper.
An affluent society that has never known need
This pestilence will make us humble indeed.
We think only money, makes our world go around
This little bug has shown, he can shut it all down.
As always, our pride goes before a fall,
Our ego is big and our wisdom is small
If our world should return to it’s former normality
Will we remember the fragility of our own brief mortality
Pandemics bring change, may this be for the best.
Our human values are being put to the test.

Ann McLean is a painter and poet.