Archives for posts with tag: collage

braden art
How Not to Disappear (Pandemic Style)
by Elya Braden

Take your temperature. Blow up the same red
balloon at irregular intervals; expel your breath

into the sink. Schedule Zoom calls with your dog.
Screen share every pimpled, buck-toothed photo

of your younger self to remind you who you were
and whom you’ve tried to leave behind. Read

every story you can find on the 1918 Spanish Flu:
how it spread, how it ebbed, how it returned,

how it killed and how quickly history wiped
30-50 million souls from its pages. Scissor

your old love letters and yesterday’s obits into a collage
of loss. Google the word for “death” in 27 languages.

Drift through every new Facebook group, mushroom
clusters of panicked souls searching for connection,

liking random posts in a Morse code of caring. Name
your age spots “freckles” and play connect-the-dots along

your arms in sidewalk chalk as you wait in six-foot intervals
outside the only local Trader Joes not closed for illness.

Magnify every detail of your shrunken life: post
photos of yet another homecooked meal, your sleep-

curled cat, the first lemon fattened on a branch,
the hummingbird sexing your pink hibiscus. Fill

a jar with the dimes and nickels of these moments,
a currency you’ll invest in poems to remember

what we’ll all soon try to forget, clutching at our memories
of “normal” like fragments of last night’s dreams.

Previously published at Sheila-Na-Gig online (Volume 4:4, Summer 2020).

Collage by the author (December 2020).

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE COLLAGE: I wrote the poem in late April, fairly early in the pandemic, though we didn’t know it then. I didn’t create the collage until December, when everything in the poem felt more intense. Hence the calendar months represented in the artwork. It’s all cut and paste of the various images and words. The red balloon is a real balloon glued on. Some of the images in the collage are from personal photos (the lemon, the hummingbird, the jar of change). I used tracing paper for the different words for death so they would blend in more. The calendar pages, the ticket stubs, and the clock are all from a book of images of ephemera to be used for art, and there are pieces of obits from the LA Times. I know the image of the woman holding the thermometer is from Unsplash (free images). I’m not sure where the other images are from. I do a lot of collage art and Soul Collage cards so I always have boxes of pre-cut images on hand.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I have a hummingbird approach to creativity. I create with intensity and focus, but don’t do it every day and rarely enter into the creative process from the same door. The inspiration for “How Not to Disappear (Pandemic Style)” was a journal entry about my fears of disappearing in the early days of disconnection from my friends and poetry tribe. I realized that I was spending more time photographing small things around me and posting this minutia on social media in a way I hadn’t before. The artwork that goes with the poem was inspired by a workshop I took on “The Waiting Room” and what we do while we are waiting for the world to return to “normal.” It came to me to gather images from the poem and beyond to express the emotions of the poem in a visual, intuitive way.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elya Braden took a long detour from her creative endeavors to pursue an 18-year career as a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur. She is now a writer and mixed-media artist living in Los Angeles and is Assistant Editor of Gyroscope Review. Her work has been published in Calyx, Causeway Lit, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, The Coachella Review, and elsewhere and has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Open The Fist, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. Visit her at

by Daneen Bergland

What is wrong with the geese
is how they appear
versus how they sound
piercing the clouds
with that bottled noise
like a bell rung backwards.
Their necks push
into different weather.
I remember how that feels,
waiting for my body
to autumn exotic.

IMAGE: “Wild Geese,” art print of original collage by Laura Wooten Studio. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daneen Bergland‘s poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Cerise Review, and Poet Lore, as well as in the anthology of Pacific Northwest poets Alive at the Center. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received awards from the Academy of American Poets, and earned a Literary Arts fellowship. She teaches in the University Studies program at Portland State University.