Archives for category: My Front Door

May Day 2020 – Monologue
by Ken Hartke

Mayday! Mayday!
How can this possibly be a Friday?
What the hell happened to Thursday?
It seems the daze dribble out unseen.
Um . . . days. Oops, Freudian slip.
I probably need to watch that. People talk.
On Wednesday, the ants took over the kitchen.
I remember that like it was yesterday.
That was my big safari day.
I went deep; into the seldom-seen regions
— parts unknown down below the sink.
Raid smells funny. Squirt — squirt.
The ants retreated but are undefeated. They’ll be back.
My mask is in the car. I just checked. Again.
My lifeline to real people.
It’s still there. It is still there from Tuesday.
That was my last contact with the outside world
— Contact, as in the spoken word; as in
to a real human. Three humans…I just counted.
Monday, I went for groceries.
Yeah…Definitely Monday.
Masked Monday. Everyone is masked.
Masked, masked, masked…
We have up and down aisles now. More rules.
I’m the one going the wrong way — rebel that I am.
Old ladies give me the masked stink eye as they pass.
(Maybe that was a wink?)
A crafty friend made me a mask — blue with white ties.
Very nice, too. I discovered that I can’t tie a knot
behind my head. My usual surgical mask,
the one in the car, loops behind my ears
along with my glasses and hearing aids.
It’s busy back there. I think I need bigger ears.
Pretty soon my hair will be so long
I won’t even need a mask.
I compared eyebrows with my cat
— he still is winning. But not by much.
He is my therapist at this point.
He thinks I’m nuts. He’s starting to hide.
I notice there’s a lot of that going around.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think the novelty of masks and isolation has worn thin for some of us. We are prone to mind games and second-guessing after weeks of solitary confinement — as many single people are experiencing. That is the idea behind this rambling “monologue” poem (of sorts).

HARTKE2 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest. His New Mexico images now inspire much of his writing. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais and other places.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the 118 writers from around the world who participated in our MY FRONT DOOR Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from March 18-May 20, 2020.

Many thanks to the following authors for taking us through their doorways — and helping us feel connected during these challenging days.

Suzanne Allen
Cynthia Anderson
Alicia Austen
Jane Berg
Alice Venessa Bever
Shelly Blankman
Rosemary Boehm
Steve Bogdaniec
Anne Born
Nancy Brewka-Clark
Gregory Brooks
Kelsey Bryan-Zwick
Charis Buckingham
Karyl Carmignani
Patricia Carney
Jan Chronister
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Joan Colby
Clive Collins
A.S. Coomer
Joe Cottonwood
Neil Creighton
Isobel Cunningham
Michelle D’costa
Subhankar Das
Michelle Davies-Brown
Howard Richard Debs
Ashini J. Desai
Steven Deutsch
Julie A. Dickson
Katherine Edgren
Joseph A. Farina
Vern Fein
Jennifer Finstrom
Lourdes A. Gautier
Midge Goldberg
Vince Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Uma Gowrishankar
Anita Haas
Tina Hacker
Mark Andrew Heathcote
Jennifer Hernandez
Veronica Hosking
Stephen Howarth
Temidayo Jacob
Andrew Jeter
P M F Johnson
Joseph Johnston
James Ross Kelly
Phyllis Klein
Tricia Knoll
Laurie Kolp
Judy Kronenfeld
Jennifer Lagier
Mary Langer Thompson
Barbara Leonhard
Joan Leotta
Laurinda Lind
Rick Lupert
Tamara Madison
Shahé Mankerian
Ruthie Marlenée
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Devika Mathur
Mary McCarthy
Daniel McGinn
Linda McKenney
Alice Morris
Leah Mueller
Priyanka Mukherjee
Robbi Nester
Maria Nestorides
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Carolyn O’Connell
Robert O’Mochain
Erin Parker
Martha Patterson
Apoorva B. Raj
Patrick T. Reardon
Kevin Ridgeway
Belinda Rimmer
Jeannie E. Roberts
Mary Rohrer-Dann
Kerfe Roig
Alexis Rotella
Sarah Russell
Kimberly Sailor
d.r. sanchez
Wilderness Sarchild
Jame Schwartz
Shloka Shankar
Sheikha A
Kashiana Singh
Leslie Sitter
Massimo Soranzio
Carol A. Stephen
Robert Strickland
Lesley Strutt
Jacque Stukowski
MK Sturdevant
JC Sulzenko
Debi Swim
Terrence Sykes
Jo Taylor
Alarie Tennille
Thomas R. Thomas
Wren Valentino
Alan Walowitz
Dylan Ward
Lisa Lerma Weber
Elaine Wesson
Kelley White
Lynn White
Lin Whitehouse
Kim Whysall-Hammond
Jonathan Yungkans
Joanie HF Zosike

Please check out our current call for submissions at the link below:

WEARING A MASK Poetry & Prose Series (May 31, 2020 deadline)

Photo of house in Palm Springs, California, by Don Stouder on Unsplash.

The Highway
by Uma Gowrishankar

I have said this so many times to my son
I want the front door removed
so that I do not have to answer the bell.
Then our home will become an open passage, he argued,
something like a road where everyone can walk by.
Isn’t it one already, I asked, not just a road, a highway?

My grandfather lived in a rambling house
dark and deep like the tunnel of memory,
divided into five areas of living and utility, open
for every acquaintance, he called family.
The front door made of heavy wood
was not meant to be closed during the day.

My grandmother a fragile asthmatic woman
could not move the iron latch weighing
five kilos from its tunneled slot — she depended on him
for that. Out of the open door wafted
the smell of food: she cooked pots of rice, simmered
lentils in juices of vegetables for those who visited —

an open door is an invite.
What if you remove the bell instead
my son suggested pulling me out of my thoughts.
Do not answer the door, pretend nobody is in.
I do that now most of the time, remembering the days
my grandmother shut herself in, mind sealed
behind the opaque cataract of forgetfulness.

Photo by Shiva Subbiaah Kumar.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As I wrote this poem I kept going to the thought of how the front door remains shut now, no one enters. We fear the invisible intruder as the news seeps through the walls of localities in the neighbourhood becoming containment zones. There was a time I longed to have my home for myself, not to have to open the door to share the space. Now that I am forced into such an existence, I recall the time when people like waves came through the door, and regret that I had foolishly desired for self-isolation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uma Gowrishankar is a writer and artist from Chennai, South India. Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, including CityA Journal Of South Asian Literature, Qarrtsiluni, Buddhist Poetry Review, Catapult Magazine, Curio PoetryPure Slush, and Postcard Shorts. Her first full-length collection of poetry Birthing History was published by Leaky Boot Press.

Debs Front Door IMG_0165
What Is on the Other Side of the Door?
by Howard Richard Debs

I do not know what is out there,
since the door is closed—
for now, for life’s sake,
I only open the door
If I must do so, to get
the daily mail, left by a
courageous unknown
postal carrier,
to take the trash to the curb
to be taken away
by a brave unseen
sanitation worker;
what else is on the
other side of the door
which I have opened
a thousand times before
for more than forty years
since raising a family
and together with my spouse,
growing old in this house?
Somewhere out there exhausted
doctors and nurses care for the intubated,
laid-off husbands and wives sit at kitchen tables
pondering fearfully what is due to pay,
empty schools, shut shops, worshipless pews
but too, mothers and fathers wheeling strollers
on the street, keeping distance from those they meet,
masked grocery workers stocking shelves
so we can eat, first responders, police officers serving us all—
the dawn of other ways to live beyond those now
proven unprepared for these our present days.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poet Alicia Ostriker once wrote, “Writing is what poets do about trauma. We try to come to grips with what threatens to make us crazy, by surrounding it with language.” While we are amidst an unprecedented time of trial and tribulation, I wanted to take a moment through this poem to consider both the sad and the heroic without question, but to try as well to look ahead with hope.

Debs copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming later in 2020 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.

My Front Door with Art
Gorgon in Cameo
by Jennifer Finstrom

          Maybe there is more of the magical
          in the idea of a door than in the door
                    “Doors opening, closing on us,” Marge Piercy

You lock yourself out of your apartment
about thirty days into shelter-in-place,
know as soon as the door shuts behind you
that your keys are on the floor. Since this
all began, you’ve given up the ritual that
had been part of locking the door when
you were going to work, wouldn’t have
forgotten your keys if you’d looked back
at the four small pictures that are the last
things you see as you’re leaving: drawings
of a rearing centauresse and two winged
Roman Genii, Pegasus in flight, and
the one you bought right after your divorce,
the head of Medusa in cameo, her snakes
small curls on her head. You daily asked her
to guard your place and guard your person,
but now no one is looking out for you, and
you’re here in the hallway with a winter
coat over your pajamas, on your way to
walk in the alley behind your building.
Last summer you went on a first date
for the first time in years, spoke a different
prayer as you were leaving, the words
“Army of witch queens, be with me” coming
unbidden. As you wait now for building
maintenance to let you back in, a new
prayer is taking shape. You want a different
life when this ends, but you’ll be so changed
that the words remain formless, and no
new or old door can yet open in response.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Last summer, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction of the poems is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still keeping on with the project.

Finstrom Picture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Eunoia Review, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine, with work forthcoming in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and  Rust + Moth. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

by Julie A. Dickson

It’s half open already,
welcome doorway;
climb to the threshold,
enter to previous times
wrought with memories.
Step through —
this entry of now,
passage to present,
vestige of today.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The number of times I have entered and exited through the same door, to and from my home, leads me to recall many times, days, memories of the past and the present.

pic Dickson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a NH poet, whose work appears in various journals, such as Ekphrastic Review, The Harvard Press, Poetry Quarterly, Avocet Nature Poetry Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018, and her full-length works of poetry and Young Adult fiction can be found on Amazon. Dickson is a lover of rescued elephants and feral cats, and is a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.

pm door
Never-ending wait
by Priyanka Mukherjee

A ball rolled in through my open front door
No one was there to take it back
I wished to see the tiny hands again
Ones that played with me long ago
Through the open front door
The emptiness deep within my heart
When they left for greener pastures far
Never returned to play with me again
My front door still awaits their return
The mornings are misty and the grounds soft
The seasons changed but never the time
My lined eyes eagerly await
To see the innocent grin again
Of the one who played with me all day
Through the open front door of mine
The nights are dark and lonely too
The wind outside rages a battle
Against my front door that stands guard
My only soldier of this war
It had seen the happier times
When the doors of my heart were ajar
Now no more I wish to wait
The hands are gone that made me play
Alone I stand and look outside
Through the window at the back
I do not wait for the ball anymore
I have closed forever, my big front door.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In my country, many sons and daughters leave their parents and go to distant lands for a better future. Sometimes, the children never return and the aged parents are left to fend for themselves. They keep awaiting the return of their offspring and sometimes pass away with this wish. The aged parents also miss their grandsons and granddaughters, and the time spent visiting and playing with them. My poem is for those who have stopped waiting and are trying to deal with their lives in a different way.

pm1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Priyanka Mukherjee is the mother of a six-year-old, a wife, a doting daughter to two sets of parents, and a teacher. She is an avid reader and a passionate traveler. Home quarantined, she is reviving her writing hobby and penning down her thoughts. Some of her poems will be published in an anthology in the coming months. As a teacher, she loves guiding young minds and tries her best to inspire her students to become avid readers. For more, visit her blog and find her on Twitter.

by Veronica Hosking

Introvert stays home
Daily routine goes unchanged
Front door remains closed

Photo: The author (left) and her daughter Gretchen taking their first photo of 2020 in front of the family’s front door.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Not only am I an introvert, I do not have a driver’s license because of Cerebral Palsy. My whole life I have enjoyed being a homebody; this new social distancing is the same old routine in my world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet. Her family and day job, cleaning the house, serve as inspiration for most of her poetry. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina magazine from 2006-2011. Her poems have been featured online and in print anthologies, including Stone Crowns Magazine, Poetry Nook, Silver Birch Press, Poetry Pea, Arizona Matsuri, and Blue Guitar Magazine. Veronica keeps a poetry blog at

Haas door
A B-Movie Birthday
by Anita Haas

I listen at my front door — dare not open it nowadays. Once-friendly neighbors watch for infractions. Leave only for food or medicine. Always alone. Masks, gloves, shopping trolley, distance. Cross over the road. Look away.

Stories of chivatos (tattlers) and “balcony police” abound online.

Has he been caught? Fined? Would they say his errand wasn’t “essential”? Several thousand euros would be a lot to pay for a birthday cake.

Stories of power-hungry cops and soldiers abound online.

At last I hear footsteps on the stairs — elevator buttons not safe. I open the door a crack and super-hubby slips in, panting. “We are living a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!” I giggle “Yes, The Curse of Covid-19!” “Felicidades, cariño! Your cake!” He presents it to me proudly. “Gracias! My hero! Quick! Mask off! Wash your hands!” I spray alcohol over the parcels, relieved.

Stories of infection and death abound online.

Eyes lined, lashes lengthened, hair curled, careful not to show the roots. Chic top and earrings, track pants and slippers. Our backs shun the front door, the same one we opened wide to welcome last year’s guests. We grin into the phone, me holding the cake and he the selfie-stick. We bet on the number of likes we’ll get. Confined but connected!

Happy birthday stories abound online.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When this whole craziness began, I knew, as a writer, that I wanted to capture the fear, the uncertainty, and the hilarity that we were all experiencing. Madrid, at this point is still one of the hardest hit places, with most residents strictly confined to small apartments. My little birthday celebration and the front door theme helped tie it all together.

Haas copy1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Publications where her work has appeared  include Falling Star Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Tulane Magazine, Literary Brushstrokes, and Adelaide Magazine. She spends her free time enjoying tapas, flamenco, and B-movies with her husband and two cats.

by Vern Fein

I used to have a front door,
there the last time I looked.
Life coming in and out,
grand kids, groceries,
neighbors, our dog,
over and over again.

Now it has disappeared.
I can’t find it,
No use to look.

The sun room
has a door
opens over and over
on our backyard fence,
our only connection
to the world.

When will
our front door
smile its
gap-toothed grin
let us in
and out

fein copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over 100 poems on over 50 sites, including *82 Review, The Literary Nest, Gyroscope Review, Silver Birch Press, Courtship of Winds, 500 Miles, The Write Launch, Broadkill Review, Soft Cartel, and River and South.