Archives for posts with tag: Masks

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Comfort Masks
by Veronica Hosking

Give comfort
Wear in public
Stop virus from spreading

Photo by Bára Buri on Unsplash.

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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

walasse-ting-side-eye 1990
by Preeth Ganapathy

I sit, alone, in the midst of files,
Leafing through their contents,
Hands awash with a sanitizer
That has the scent of artificial lemon.

Until I hear a soft knock on the door
The grey and pink mask
That loops over my earlobes
And rests nonchalantly under my chin
Springs to life, alert and ready
As I hasten to pull it over my face
Offering protection against enemy droplets
That threaten to fly discreetly
And land on unsuspecting surfaces.

The mask leaves unguarded,
only my eyes —
Two tiny windows left open for the visitor to
Peep inside and
Gauge the depth of the river
Of my thoughts.
I look up at the door as it opens, to see
That my colleague is just another pair of eyes
Peeping over the rim of another mask.

We discuss the files
While our masks are busy
Fighting a guerrilla war
Against the deadly virus.

PAINTING: “Side eye” by Walasse Ting (1990).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Preeth Ganapathy is from Bangalore, India. Her work has been published in a number of online avenues, including The Short Humour Site, Red Wolf Journal, and Spark. She blogs at

by Jennifer Lagier

Swathed in cotton scarf, latex gloves,
only inches of skin remain vulnerable, uncovered.
I prepare for morning walks like an astronaut
about to exit protective capsule,
fragile body ejected into perilous space.

Grocery shopping was once an exercise
in selecting fresh fruit and vegetables,
visiting with cashiers and neighbors.
Now it is the equivalent of the hunger games,
all of us unwilling tributes, trying to survive
newly lethal environment.

I am the invisible woman,
possibly a bank robber, cattle rustler,
or tempting seductress,
expression inscrutable as I venture forth
beneath cloaking mask.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a selfie taken while preparing for a morning walk. I think of my masking as the equivalent of the American Pandemic Burka.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published seventeen books. Her work appears in From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction & Recovery. Her newest books are Trumped Up Election (Xi Draconis Books) and Dystopia Playlist (CyberWit). Find her on Facebook.

Do the Right Thing, Friends
by Vince Gotera

Skipping wearing a mask? I can’t see why
anyone would do such a ridiculous
and inane, even insane, thing. Why not fly
with cardboard wings off the nearest precipice?

Sure, Baby Huey, it might/could work out.
And ducks like Huey the Babe don’t fly south
for the winter. Also Giorgio Tsoukalos,
the host of TV’s Ancient Aliens, sports

a buzz cut! C’mon, people, wear a mask.
Not for safety or because you’re afraid, but
rather because you’re a grown-up adult
and protecting other folks is your shared task.

Not masking up makes you look like a jerk.
Asymptomatic pandemic snowflake.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a Pushkin sonnet (a form also called an Onegin stanza because Alexander Pushkin invented it as the base unit for his verse novel Eugene Onegin). It’s an interesting hybrid sonnet, beginning with a Shakespearean alternating quatrain (abab), followed by a Clarean couplet quatrain (ccdd), then a Petrarchan envelope quatrain (effe), and ending with a couplet (gg), which could conclude any of those three sonnet types. Wear a mask!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He was also Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, The Coolest Month, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appeared in the journals Abyss & Apex, Altered Reality Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Dreams & Nightmares, Ekphrastic Review, Philippines Graphic (Philippines), Rosebud, Stone Canoe, and the anthologies Multiverse (UK) and Hay(na)ku 15. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

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Swing Sets Were Never Essential
by Joseph Johnston

In my mask I’m dismantling a swing set. It was once steel but is now rust and I’ve counted many times around the sun since any kids have laughed amidst this rubble.

I was proud as a sneak-thief when I bought this swing set. I’d leveraged everything I had in the middle of the Great Recession to move my family out of danger and into better opportunity. A faker the whole way. But I did it, wearing an invisible mask to fit in and play the part and act out the game for the creditors.

Two hundred bucks available on the last credit card of my Great Recession Mask and I plopped it on the counter of the Toys R Us and said “I’ll take the HappyFunScape. WITH the optional five-foot slide.” It was the evening before we moved, and I stayed up all night putting it together so my kids would see it first thing and know we’d arrived. Two swings and a see-saw and a plastic slide + a yard big enough for it to rust = deliverance. That was the cold equation then. Fake it, and perhaps make it.

Now it’s the Great Pandemic and there is no equation and the mask is visible and uncomfortable. I can’t see and I can’t breathe and I’m sawing through swing set rust because I need the money.

In my mask I’m not concerned with tetanus. I’m concerned with scrapyard policies and viral load. Will they be wearing masks? Is there a scrapyard workers union? Is it as powerful as the gravediggers union? Will their droplets become mine, or my droplets theirs?

I think I prefer the pretend masks of yore. At least the phony intangibles were controllable. Swing sets were never essential, but lungs are.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For me, the most bizarre aspect of the pandemic is the masking of faces. That’s something our culture, however that can be defined, usually reserves for Halloween and Mardi Gras. In other cultures they’ve always been far more ubiquitous, so it’s strange to see them all over the place now. It’s good, but it’s frustrating to know now that if we’d been utilizing them in February things might look a lot more positive today. It’s even more frustrating that they’ve now taken on symbolic political meaning. Something so simple as a tool to prevent the spread of disease shouldn’t carry political weight. Hand-washing isn’t political; masks shouldn’t be either. I have a vision of a post-pandemic future where the clever masks we made to help prevent the spread of the virus are sewn into scrapbooks or quilts, mementos of a most bizarre time. My story is an attempt to relate the physical masks of the present with the pretend masks we sometimes wear out in society.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. He currently resides in Michigan, where he is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.

In a Time of Hidden Faces
by Carol A. Stephen

This face, my mask of age, slips south
into my neck, wrinkles drawn down by time
and gravity into folds, creases, wattle.
Still, when youth shines forth in my smile, wrinkles
tighten. Years slip away. Or they did—

Now, a different mask, a swath of black cloth
covers dimples, highlights the slight droop
of lower eyelid under my glasses.

Over my shoulder, masks of the past
stare blank-eyed from the wall, and I remember
those days in Venice, that long-ago night in Rome,
the sweetness of a kiss by the Trevi fountain.

Those kissed lips hide now under my new mask, worn
for your safety. I cannot offer you a grin, but
I offer the people of my world my respect,
expressed by this black band across my face.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As we all consider social distancing, and that we are all in this fight against COVID-19, I thought also about my collection of carnival masks, displayed on my wall, as well as how our own faces present different masks to the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe

Dream, Day 63
by Zoë Hajec

Free and flying.
This is the life I dream of at night in my temporary escape.
Feet pounding against the hot summer sand and cool waves rushing between my toes.
The sun beats down upon my pale skin.
Light hits the vast body of water before me,
shattering into a million pieces.
Birds chirp and fly freely.
The air smells of the fresh green grass on a cool summer’s morning,
when the world’s surfaces are misty with dew droplets.
The air smells of the rough waves of the Great Lakes breaking upon a boulder and spraying its contents like confetti.
I can see the world’s movements in colors.
Vibrant and alive once more,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a dream I had around day 63 of quarantine. Since the start of the quarantine all anyone ever hears about is what has been lost or canceled. Personally it became too much to constantly think about all the things I couldn’t do anymore, so I started thinking about all the things I could. One of those things is dreaming, and this is my dream.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zoë Hajec is a high school junior/rising senior heavily involved in her school’s magnet program, CAPA. She enjoys learning and plans to attend a university in the fall of 2021 as a first-generation college student. Zoë also has her own online store called Zoë Dreams on Bonfire, where she sells her shirt designs. In her free time she likes listening to music, reading, and learning sign language. Recently she has begun thinking about creating a blog to publish her writing, offer advice, as well as talk about her online store and her hopes and dreams. Visit her on Twitter and Instagram.

I Might Need This Some Day
by Tricia Knoll

The day began with flag waving. Then drapes, generous blankets going in and rolled out to iced and rumbling trucks. Coffins in parallel lines on a bingo board.

Your thought was nonchalant (waste takes no haste) when you tucked remnants inside the sewing kit: I might need this some day. (No one ever believes that.)

So you dust off that case on a closet shelf beside your first-aid kit and summer’s electric fan and open it up. Acknowledge the red pin-cushion heart that came as wedding gift. Peel open curls of rolled cotton leftovers: stars splattered on black, red boats with sails unfurled. The teddy bears that beared-up your baby’s room as curtains on the window to the fir tree where the raccoon ate the robin’s babies. Two apron strings from your mother when you turned twenty-one. Those never-mind fabrics: old dreams in dark caverns.

This is some day. Now a bear mask on my lips, headdress below my nose. Filter my spare words. See beyond memory in the crosswalk.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tricia Knoll, a Vermont poet, knows that she is at-risk. She tries to write a poem or haiku nearly every day and wears a mask with small flowers on it. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her collected books of poetry include Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press), Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books), and Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box). Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry. Read more of her work at Find her on Amazon and Twitter.

May 3rd (Q Day #50): Día de los Muertos Mask
by Robert Minicucci

This mask, purchased from an artist friend living in Ohio with his wife (a           great writer),

is my Double-Crested Blue Jay to viral insults and assaults.

Greet gray death with color.

“We all die a little each day as we live,” chirps the happy skull. “It’s           always close.”

A dark flock constantly circling.

When it gets closer, I will make one last

poke-of-the-finger at a scraggly crow’s short sharp beak

just as the rest of the murder encircles me and feasts.

This mask protects or smothers. Depends on your choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Minicucci lives near Exeter, New Hampshire, with his wife, two of his three children, and a brindle rescue hound named Josie. He came back to poetry after reading One of Us Is Lost by Robert Dunn (a local Portsmouth poet), and Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon, whom he met in 2018 at a University of New Hampshire reading. He’s had work published in the New Hampshire-based poetry zine Good Fat, as well as the online journals Spank the Carp and Rat’s Ass Review. He is on twitter @robertminicucci when he’s not working on his chapbook.

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).

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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.