Archives for posts with tag: shelter in place

The Sounds of Virus
by d.r. sanchez

The dogs know
News shared loudly throughout the neighborhood
Something is keeping their humans home
Happy days of rubbed bellies and snuggles
But they smell the fear

The birds know
Normal springtime chatter eerily louder
Something is muting the highway noise
Busy days over empty streets and towns
They sense the tension

Holding the leash
Outside my house, I try to hide the cough
I have a virus, not that one…I think
We listen the cacophony of the roarless highway
She barks to her neighbors

NOTE FROM THE AUTBOR: Even “regular” illness in the times of a global pandemic can be scary and isolating. The world stands still, holding its breath, trying not to cough. Our pets and nature’s creatures are confused by the abrupt change in human behavior. I live by a busy interstate highway. The constant roar of traffic is gone. The birds are louder. The neighborhood dogs are talking more excitedly these days rather than in warning. Step outside. Hear the difference.

Debra R Sanchez

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra Sanchez has moved over 30 times and has lived in five states in two countries…so far. She leads and attends various writing groups in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, and also hosts writing retreats. Her writing has won awards at writers’ conferences in various genres, including children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Several of her plays and monologues have been produced and published. Other works have been published in literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Visit her website,, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her books can be found on Amazon. And My Mother Cried/Y Mi Mama Lloró was awarded “Best Children’s Book of 2017” at The Author Zone (TAZ) awards. Prompted, Prodded, Published: How Writing Prompts Can Help All Writers also received a 2017 TAZ award in the nonfiction category. Raw & Unfinished received a TAZ award in 2018 for poetry. Her most recent children’s book Snow Pants for Isabella/Pantalones de Nieve para Isabella is nominated for a 2020 TAZ award. Her dystopian play Pages: A Library Play (Páginas:Un Cuento de Bibliotecas) was published in 2016 in both English and Spanish. All of her books were published by Tree Shadow Press, where she is also an editor and

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The Ranch Door
by Patricia Carney

Corralled-in during the pandemic
behind a ranch style front door
of my ranch house, a door best shut,
I get unhinged when it’s left ajar.

But on the sunny days, few here,
those special calm sunny days
this front door can be left open
with its back against the wall.

Claustrophobic days of pandemic,
I yearn for an open door for sol
letting long tall shadows flow into
my abode freeing time for a while.

But at night, the corral is closed
holding out the dark wild beasts.
My very last before-bedtime chore
is to close, shut, lock my ranch door.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia Carney, a Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Member, is published in numerous Midwest publications, including Bramble and Poetry Hall, as well as anthologies. She is the author of Birdbrains (2017), To the MUS(sic) (2018), and the novel Community Service on Planet Weirdo (2019).  She lives on the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, Cudahy Wisconsin.

Front Door
by Katherine Edgren

Like a book cover, you have to crack it open
            to see what’s inside.

Like a safe door, you need the combination
            to get to the valuables.

There are no windows on the door,
            so who’s there is often a surprise.

The mouth grins at passersby.
            Like the pupil of an eye, it dilates.

It holds a hook for sporting wreathes of greens,
            wafting pine scent opening and closing.

Porous, it inhales and exhales: people, packages,
            smells of burned cooking, fireplace fires.

The company door shouts welcome, but when it sticks,
            the company feel trapped, until the jailer lets them out.

When very windy, it blows open unless I lock it:
            keeps the ghosts out, makes the dog feel safe.

It’s a Halloween door painted bittersweet,
            the color of pumpkins on the step.

A paradox, my front door separates and connects me
            with the world: hatch, entry, egress, the in and out.

But it’s morphed again. Grown shy.
            If it could speak, it’d say: stand back –

six feet at least—the length of a fathom,
            the depth of a grave.

The door is like armor, or skin, or arms that push.
            The door is a sad back that can turn away.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My process is to write every day, and I have to say, the new world we’re living in has sparked many poems.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, is now available. She also has two chapbooks, Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Coe Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets, and Barbaric Yawp, among others. She is a retired social worker and lives in Dexter, Michigan.

Wait, I think I’ve seen this one…
by Andrew Jeter

When we bought this place,
way off in the woods,
it was the first home I’ve ever had
with a glass front door and I thought,
“Great, now I’ll have to wear pants
just in case someone stops by

But this spring, it feels different when I pass
that door. I think, “Wait, I think I’ve seen
this one before. This is the one where,
in the beginning, there’s a gray
and rust-colored squirrel chewing
on the corner of the bench on the porch
and then the turkey walks by
just before the UPS van rounds
the corner of the drive.

Then later, the Prime driver will take forever
sifting through his boxes before he brings up
something, looks in under the bill of his ball cap
and does a two-fingered salute when he
sees me in my robe with my coffee cup at 2:47 PM
wondering why do I keep watching the same movie over
and over and over…”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a film teacher, I tend to see plot and story structure everywhere. Now that I am stuck at home, I am seeing it in my own life as well and my front door acts as a natural frame for the new and exposed rhythms of my life.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Jeter has taught high school writing and film for 17 years and holds a BA in English and Creative Writing, a Masters in English Education, and a PhD in English Composition & Applied Linguistics. He has lived on four continents with five dogs and one husband and currently splits his time between Chicago and Saugatuck, Michigan. Visit him at

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morris poem
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My world suddenly and drastically changed due to a viral strain that started in China. How could that possibly affect me? Then when I saw how this mysterious virus was harming so many, and shutting down the life I knew only weeks before, I fell into a bit of a funk. Every ounce of creativity seemed to have drained from me. I had taken a couple notes, but that was all. I was thrilled to see that Silver Birch Press was back with a prompt about the very thing that had robbed me of my energy and sense of joy. I knew I had to try to write again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Morris was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and recently nominated for Best of the Net. In 2018, she won the Florence C. Coltman Award for Creative Writing, and was shortlisted in a Postcard Poetry and Prose fiction contest. In 2019, she won second place (single poem) and third place (single short story) in the Delaware Press Association Communications Contest. Recently, her work was noted by Goodreads reviewer Jeffrey Keeten. Her writing appears, or is forthcoming in numerous anthologies, including The Broadkill Review, Backbone Mountain Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Gargoyle, Paterson Literary Review, and other publications.

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My Front Door
by Wilderness Sarchild

All glass, easy slide
through which my cat and I watch
turkeys strut, squirrels bicker.
An invitation into the world at large,
then back again into its shelter,
comforting smells of garlic and dog.

I no longer travel, no one does.
A trip to the grocery store is a dangerous mission
where I must first deck myself out
in homemade personal protective equipment:
face mask, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes.
Just to breathe outside my home takes great courage.

My front door:
a promise?
a portal?
a prison?

All of the above.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: One of the benefits of sheltering at home is that I am finding more time to write. I’ve written a poem almost every day since March 1.  Before Covid-19, I was lucky if I wrote one poem a week. I like starting with a prompt and seeing where the poem takes me. If the journey from beginning to end surprises me, that is a good sign that this is a poem I should continue working with until it feels ready to share.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wilderness Sarchild is an award-winning poet and playwright. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Old Women Talking, published by Passager Books, and the co-author of Wrinkles, the Musical, a play about women and aging that has been produced on Cape Cod for the past three years.  She has won awards for her poetry and playwriting from Veterans for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Chicago’s Side Project Theatre Company, and the Joe Gouveia WOMR National Poetry competition, judged by Marge Piercy. She was selected as Poet of the Week on Poetry Superhighway. Wilderness is also an expressive arts psychotherapist and grandmother of six.  She is a social justice activist and is a consultant/teacher of skills in conflict resolution, consensus decision making, mediation, meeting facilitation, and empowered aging. Wilderness lives in a cottage in the woods in Brewster (Cape Cod), Massachusetts, with her husband, poet Chuck Madansky. They are surrounded by wild neighbors that include turkeys, coyote, fox, deer, squirrels, giant snapping turtles, and birds. Visit her at  and

“Love is a door in a blank wall.” ~ Jeannette Winterson
by Susanne Allen

You can tell by the way the carpet’s
worn there before it, grey from
all the coming and going—before—
now being stamped down
in all the hesitation over how
to approach the doorknob. There’s
a slide lock and a deadbolt, too. There’s
a dirty spot on the edge where
I push it closed, so I get the Windex
and clean it. It opens on nothing beautiful,
and the wall is far from blank; in fact
it’s paneled and I’m getting pretty
tired of looking at it. Twice a day
I walk the dog, check the mail
twice a week, receive the occasional
delivery. It waits there in its frame,
on its hinges, facing the neighbor’s door.
I sometimes look out
the peephole when I hear her coming
up the stairs. When I turn the lock,
her dog barks.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I didn’t mean to write this poem, but Jeanette Winterson made me do it. Plus, these posts have been beckoning for weeks. I recently started a new project, and this is what slipped out. And this is, I think, the least beautiful front door I’ve ever had.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne Allen is a former interior designer who now teaches Literature and Writing after a midlife crisis, an MFA and several years living in Paris, not necessarily in that order. Her poems appear widely in print and online journals and anthologies, and she has two chapbooks, verisimilitude from corrupt press and Little Threats from Picture Show Press.

J’adore My Door
by Karyl Carmignani

Solid and fearless, with varnish peeling like sunburnt skin.
Every push and pull blurts a micro-shriek across the threshold,
except when Santa Anas howl,
sucking moisture from every living thing, making us a bit mad,
and relaxing hinges, an intruder’s delight.
But lock tumblers jostle like cubes in a glass, and vow to keep us safe.

Screen door protects her stoic mate from sun and strangers.
Creates a veiled reality,
perfect for cats who pass the time
counting leaves crossing the porch,
or growl low and feral at passing ‘possums or toms looking for love,
as night falls hard on my newly quiet street.

There is a jangled ache outside in the absence of people.
This age of uncertainty, financial ruin, chills and fever
has tucked us in tight behind doors,
sturdy, hollow, painted, flimsy, raw, weeping.
We share this indoor life.
Separate and together.
It is a privilege
and a luxury to have a solid door to keep death at bay
and the cats inside, close.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Forgive the shaggy format of this piece. The door prompt has been on my To Write List for a couple weeks, and it didn’t bubble to the surface until the kitties were watching the leaves scuttle across the porch before a storm. I’m eternally grateful for their furry company during this trying time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karyl Carmignani is a science writer for San Diego Zoo Global who also dabbles in creative writing. You can read her nonfiction animal-centric articles here. One of her all-time favorites is about a fascinating and misunderstood bird, the ostrich. Read it and see them spinning on video here. She loves morning coffee (with a splash of milk), rainy afternoons (few and far between), a good joke, great books, her husband, her two cats Tina and Piper, and random, unending beauty in the world. While not a fan of this “house arrest,” she is confident that this, too, shall pass and we can get back to hugging friends, eating out, biking, hiking through parks, traveling near or far, and rejoicing in our fleeting existence with full and shining hearts.

Gautier door
Shelter in Place
by Lourdes A. Gautier

I have two front doors.

One that limits who enters, can be locked or unlocked with a key
and is a perfect shade of red adorned with brass fittings.

The second one is an additional filter, locked and opened only from within
and sports a natural heart shaped swirl on dark, honey colored hickory    wood.

Between them a foyer nestles to welcome visitors, provide a place for    wet umbrellas,
or a last minute glance in the antique mirror before one steps out into the    world.

Now it houses disinfectant spray and disposable wipes that will hopefully
keep the pandemic from entering the house, sneaking in on packages,    shoes, people.

The only nod to life before virus is a wreath of yellow and red tulips
that hang from a hook, almost as if to say all is well here.

I’ve lost track of how many days I’ve sheltered in place.
Two weeks, no three. Twenty-one days at home thus far.

Self-quarantine in my town was advised long before state governors    began
extolling the benefits of social distancing or staying home.

When will these doors resume their job as portals to the outside world
instead of barriers that keep me in and invisible death out?

Two front doors, when I know that there are those who have none.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: One of the things that I immediately liked about this house was the two front doors. To have what amounts to a decompression chamber between the outside world and the home was a gift I couldn’t ignore. And the opportunities for decorating a small space were endless. Now I’m grateful to have a place where we can try to decontaminate ourselves before venturing inside.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City, where she earned a Master’s degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She has taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University, and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University.  Her short story, 1952, was published in Acentos Review.  Her poems have appeared in Calliope Magazine, Dying Dahlia Review, and Silver Birch Press. She has performed at the Inwood Local open mic night in New York City and participated in the inaugural Cagibi Writer’s Retreat in Hudson County. She was a featured poet at Second Saturdays at Cyrus, hosted by Terri Muss and Matt Pasca. Her writing focuses on the issues of identity as an Afro-Latina, the many faces of love (romantic and familial), and saudade or anhelo, a longing for a place to call home. She was one of the featured poets at the 2019 Feria Internacional del Libro de la Ciudade de New York.  Recently retired from a position as an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories. Her essay on Saudade was accepted for the forthcoming Dominican Writers Anthology.