“The End of His Reign at the Coffee House” by Noreen Hennessy

Circles beneath his eyes,
slanted lines, the color of ash,
Steam curling in the air, his head
soaking in a hot cascade of water,
A quick dash downstairs
a bowl of oatmeal made by his father
every morning, moving him toward
his destiny.

Down the road, the coffee house awaits him
dishes, bees swarming on
cinnamon buns, women in aprons
engaged in warfare over
paychecks, designations of disinfected
tables, whispers, tears,
jeers, scenes of occasional shouting.
as they dash out the door
to breathe in smoke
or to spit out a quick “I quit”
only to return the next day.

All this buzzes behind him, as he quietly
opens the door moves through the kitchen, knowing
the smoke, fury of these battles will
rise up against him by noon. His hands rough,
reddened by endless table wiping, his nerves shot
from the women’s constant prodding for
him “to step up” go faster, faster, faster.

Hours pass as
his bite of lunch is left wasted, forgotten
in his frenzy, their panic, and his head becomes light
with minuscule stars shimmering in his sight
under fierce, fluorescent beams.
Geese cackle, the sun cracks through the
front window pours over the counter, as bread is
ushered out of an oven to be eaten by the chosen ones–
royalty of genes and good luck from parts near and far:
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, The Dorset Country Club…

They arrive here in Vermont in a flood of pink pants,
crowned with masks dangling from one ear, to condemn the harried
women who rush to serve them their paninis, who frantically wipe,
scribble out checks, grab chips, desserts, bagels as being
“too brusque.” And to command him, that their coffee be
served swirled with caramel, that they will soon swoon
over, coo to him, standing idly by a little too closely,
sighing “oh that’s love” as he pours golden
syrup into their bitter cups, making in the foam that
floats on top, the perfect image of a leaf as only he can,
for each one. And for a few seconds, he grows
taller as he stirs the cups then places them
gently on silver trays.

He can hear the blare of trumpets
at days end, as the last steaming brew is bestowed on a royal waiting,
feel a plumed hat settle on his 19 year old head, velvet britches arrive
on his thighs, watch his hands grow more graceful as a
lute begins to play.
The smudged darkness
beneath his eyes
for a moment, only to quickly reappear
as he locks the door
turns the sign to CLOSED,
feels the rush of his
young life passing him by,
the brush of feathers,
the crush of velvet,
falling to the floor
like him
who will pick himself up,
sweep the floor clean,
and call to give NOTICE

Noreen Hennessy is new to poetry. She has given readings of her writing at Beyond Baroque Literary Foundation and at the 92nd St Y. Recently, one of her poems has been published online by Literary North.  She has been studying poetry in community workshops this past year at UVM and Dartmouth College. She lives in southern Vermont with her husband and son.

“COVID Dispatch” by Charlie Brice

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee

2021 Best of the Net Nominee

I sit in my porch room,
a rainy day in Pittsburgh,
and listen to Khachaturian’s
Gayaneh Ballet. I ignore
the lively playful parts, listen
only for yearning and strife.

I absorb melancholy and think about
sand hill cranes on Walloon Lake.
I miss their prehistoric banter, their legs
dragging behind them in flight like
retracted landing gear, their prayerful
umber glimmer at sunset.

At almost 70, my hands covered
with age spots, having cut my face
with scissors while trimming my
shaggy gray beard this morning, and
feeling in my limbs that one day
I won’t be able to rise unassisted
from a chair, I learn that our COVID
quarantine will last for 36 months.

I think about sand hill cranes.
We all fly south, but into the
winter, not away from it.


Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Sunlight Press, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, I-70 Review, Mudfish 12, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.

“Model Village” by Stephen Kingsnorth

Check out Eyam’s story – type it in,
the global village sharing rank;
a plague on all our houses, homes,
our well-being no better dressed.
Our greeting now olecranon,
a process of hail fellow joint,
though also place to catch the cough –
as well our armoury two faced.

Repeat the happy birthday song,
as alcohol breaks covid’s skin;
the viral spread some fakery,
no longer urban myth on-line.
Graced are the stadia, with airs,
the current flow, with streams to breathe,
except the team in quarantine,
so bar is free to percolate.

Plane ailerons lie, taking rest,
and ferries salute Charon’s route,
while more than Styx and stones are thrown
to trip the steps, fantastic light.
Isolated become the norm
both business small and table tops,
the metric measure for our feet,
separate soles keep us on toes.

The masks a front pretending safe,
deceiving us with covered nose,
while empty supermarket shelves
leads panic to protect our stocks.
This checkpoint for our boundaries,
strict curfew on shared risks in life
shows testing times reveal true state,
community risks friends or fate?



Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English and Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over a dozen on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines, and Vita Brevis Anthology.  His website is Poetry Kingsnorth.

“Tarnished” by Gerard Sarnat

Ger’s glasses naturally rose-colored,
although trying hard to prevent
such on all of our cheeks

I ask the weekly Men’s Group
which has met at my house
for many many decades

to abide by these COVID-19 rules:
“Following up from last previous
discussion, I’d suggest to you

1. No one who’s ill or recently exposed
to someone suspiciously sick
(whatever that means)

should currently come to meetings.
2. We maximize elbow or Wuhan
toe taps, foot touching, etc. — but

at least I am passing for now on those
wonderful hugs sure do miss already.
If above is [quite understandably]

too tight-ass / hysterical, perhaps convene
elsewhere?  Simply cannot afford for
Lela or me to be sick. If acceptable

see ya Wednesday.” …Unanimous agreement
reached seems another golden step building
more responsible plus mature community

— until my partner / boss for a half-century
opines, “Getting together is unnecessary!”
thus putting her kibosh on well-laid plan.



Gerard Sarnat, MD’s won the Poetry in Arts First Place Award/Dorfman Prizes and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts/Best of Net Awards. He authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes, 17s, and Melting The Ice King (2016). Sarnat is widely published, including recently by academic-related journals at Stanford, Oberlin, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Pomona, Brown, Penn, Columbia, Sichuan, Canberra, University of Chicago as well as in Ulster, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, American Journal Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, LA Review, San Francisco Magazine, and the New York Times. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH for distribution nationwide on Inauguration Day. Sarnat’s poetry was chosen for a 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium.