Covidéjà vu.

By Jean Pierre Nikuze.

Unhand that twig
& recede
into your tenebrous tub!

Backtrack, creep
in reverse. Sibilate!

Like a funambulist
hinged,
the gasping close by
notwithstanding,
backpedaling

on a duly oiled
unicycle, silently
as time en route
even
as time unlapsed,

career backwards
& grow into your death
as the rouged user
of a concave mirror
colors her vim.

Tumble back first
heel into curb,

miss the ground’s receipt
of your inion, only
a figure of speech
you levelled bastard,

you bleeding out beast,
cursed owner
of a
staunchless wound,

the compound
good-as-dead;
in three syllables: carrion.

Glide, wriggle, convulse,
rousted by the tail

as in an ill-matched
tug of war,

for though
the wild goats are as

close as Wales,
all who’d been to Eden
died off
with the memory
of whereabouts.

Poet Bio:

Jean Pierre Nikuze is a Rwandan writer and poet.

Masks

By Mniko Chacha 

Masks.

“Wear the masks,” the prominent governor announced,
Soon after Covid-19 emerged,
Despite the increase in price everyone demanded masks at any price,
So, I bought two masks to cover my face,

At home, the wise passerby uttered,
“Wear masks everywhere you go, otherwise, you will cease to exist.”
I resisted it for a while and tried to disbelieve my mind,
Then, I recalled what the Television broadcasted. “Those who will wear masks will defeat this pandemic beast.”

I thought a little bit and took the face mask,
And covered my face,
I looked on the mirror and saw that my face was becoming the dusk,
The confusion disturbed my eyes.

Afterwards, I moved towards the sitting room where my wife drank a beer,
“Woo the ghost is coming to kill me right here.”
She shouted and struck me with the whisk broom,
And fled from my sight.

I threw down the mask thinking that it brought the pandemic ghost in my home,
“Take care, nowadays, the face masks are rare to find,
Like the dust of gold.”
The fading mouth roared to me,

Later, I shook my head to grasp the reality,
And restore into me the sincerity,
To the best of my own ability,
I wore another mask and got back to my sanity.

Listening to Frank at Work during the Corona Virus Lockdown.

By Jack Bowman.

The trumpet flares out, steamy notes, well felt ones,

Frank sits at his desk during a break,

glasses lost, he does his best to shuffle through.

Outside, the world is filled with viruses

and billions are confined to their homes.

Bands of morons,

defy this and will surely cause another wave

of the pandemic to spread.

So Frank writes, does his best to focus and balance

let’s the jazz in

it calms him –

reduces his typos

and reminds him about ‘the moment’

how it feels to be ‘moved’ about all you do

then does it.

Poet Bio:

Jack Bowman is the author of over ten books including poetry collections and novels.

We Live by the Hands of Others.

By David Mellor.

We live by  the hands of others

Not seen by you or me

They pass the parcel

Stand at the till

Nurse the wounded

Or keep order

We live  by  the hands of others

Not seen by you or me

Our hands scrubbed clean and safe

But…

We  live by others. We are grateful to them,

Who have to live with that fear, day by day.

So that a whole humanity can be preserved.

Poet Bio:

David R Mellor is from Liverpool, England. He is a writer and performer.

Call for Submissions: COVID-19

Featured

Nalubaale Review COVID-19 Call for Submissions.

Yes, we are looking for stories, essays, experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. No, we will not let this catastrophic event go down in History without being documented. The papers are doing their part, but we would like a more personal approach – A HUMAN STORY BEHIND THE NUMBERS AND HEADLINES.

We would like to read, and even publish, your Covid-19 story. It does not matter how remote or urban, poor or rich, young or old you are, we just want you to tell that story.

My Covid-19 Story.

My Lockdown Story.
Things I have learnt.
Things I miss most about normal life
The first thing I will do when the covid pandemic is over.
A habit I had before that I will drop/won’t do again.
Letter to your grand children about the Covid-19.
Write a movie story ‘the pandemic that was!’
A letter to someone, a letter to covid-19 itself

Healing \ forging a way forward through.

You can write a poem, short story, dialogue. Any style is welcome.

We want to publish a story from at least every country in the world.

Send submissions to: nalubaalereview@gmail.com

Deadline May 30th 2021.

BREAKING FREE

   By Agatha Malunda.

 

The slavery of free men has began.

A ruthless Queen has risen from the east and 

She, unlike the sun, is harmful to man.

Each day she exhorts the power of death,

many are struggling to survive;

 all living under the fear of losing their lives.

The world is under attack

And lockdown has become Noah’s ark

to protect us from this fiery flood.

We cover our nose and mouth with a mask

and  we’ve become accustomed to this task.

Large gatherings are restricted

our feeling of togetherness is afflicted.

Handshakes have become illegal 

They say hugs and kisses

contribute to the further spread of the illness.

 

The sun shines but we admire its beauty

through our curtain windows.

We can no longer feel its rays on our skin. 

We spend all day listening to news

hearing how the masters of science

are struggling to find an antidote.

But this pain won’t last forever

we will fight it together.

The reign of Corona will be gone

a new era will be born.

in the meantime let us practice safety

by washing our hands regularly and staying indoors as part of the remedy.

In so doing will defeat this enemy

and convict it for its felony.

Life is sweet and we will not let Corona

still the honey in our bodies.

Corona-Shaped

By Babitha Marina Justin

This is the first pandemic since
my birth. Believe me, I know
chickenpox, madness and
herpes — I was afflicted with
typhoid twice – all had vaccines.

This virus has taken the city down
people don’t walk on the streets
without masks, I am terrified if my
father would spit on the roads as
a force of habit and gets arrested.

Meanwhile, the tailoring shops
are shut tight, parlours shuttered,
they have opened community kitchens
in schools, I am almost tempted to
go and work with some strange faces
and socialise at the time of
social distancing.
My days and nights stretch-out
in an endless sleep on the bed-spread
with the Corona print, it blooms like
a lotus in my dreams,
cascades its terror on me,
swims like a jellyfish
on its super slow batwings,

it mushrooms like a cloud
before it goes, Kaboom,
the Big Bang that has buried our love
in your house and mine.

Our glistening love is
lotus-eyed, in a half-open
trance, buried in a corona-shaped
casket called waiting.

 

 

Poet’s Bio:

Babitha Marina Justin is an academic, poet and artist from Kerala, South India. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, 2018 wose poems have been published in over 20 forums including Chaleur Magazine, Kritya and Journal of Post-Colonial Literature.

Her first poetry collection, “Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills” was published in 2015 by the Writers Workshop in 2015 and the second, “I Cook my Own Feast” was published in 2019.

 

We Won the War.

By Dan Mulinge – Kenya

 

We went to war, son.

Everyone, including your mother.

No one left home, yet to war we went,

For the war was within.

 

Son, the enemy was brutal!

No one ever saw him, except with a cough

No one could touch him, except with masks,

With soap and water, we fought.

 

Many lost their lives, son.

Fear killed us before its hands could.

Restrictions killed us before the war murdered,

It was hard fighting what you couldn’t see.

 

Mothers never saw the graves of their sons,

Husbands too, couldn’t bury their wives!

Death was slow, and painful.

It was death without blood. Cunning!

 

Nations staged a world war, son.

States began fighting together,for the first time,

Never has an enemy been ruthless.

In an emotional world,it was a cold rage.

 

So the rich pleaded with the poor to cough less

The poor begged the rich to travel less

The young begged the old to forget sunbaths

The old urged the young to never hold hands

 

Governments needed the people

The people needed governments,

Tyrants stayed home at last

Terrorists too were awed

 

We fought,son,with all we got.

All we got was discipline,water, soap.

All we got was division,

The far we were the more we won.

 

We fought with masked faces and gloved hands.

Bullets of running waters and grenades of soap

An enemy was this easy to kill.

Were it not for our love of our faces.

 

We won, son.

With clean hands and foaming buckets

We won with division, and unity

Yes,we won.

That’s why I hug you like a trophy.

That’s the prize of winning the war.

 

 

Rain Falls without Mercy.

By Notty Bumbo.

I vacillate of late between rage and amusement. They drag me to and from a this ironic life.  And John Prine is dying, and our leaders are in the crapper stealing our lunch, and I don’t know anymore about star-ships and the World of Tomorrow. I haven’t a clue about our continuance, even the slightest evolution that might finally stop the bombs from falling would be a welcome sight!

I love someone. I love so many. I want to see them all celebrate 100 birthdays and leave a lasting smile behind.  I want the birds to return, I am bereft because John Prine is dying. Poets always matter, songs are the first medicine for despair. I sing with the warblers at midday and with the ravens at dusk. I cannot understand our fascination with fear. The world is too small now.

When will the Summer return? There are hyacinths just opening their leaves, tomato plants finally sprouting. I hear a dog bark somewhere to the West, demanding answers, desiring solace, I wonder how the bears will fair this summer. I hold a touch of hope that one day, there will be justice, when we learn how to be surprised again. Because John Prine has died and I cannot feel the rain.

 

 

Author Bio:

Notty Bumbo is a writer, artist, and poet living in Fort Bragg, California. He’s been published in over ten writing platforms including journals, magazines and anthologies. He recently got published in in Extreme: An Anthology by Vagabond Press. He has also written and published a novella titled, “Tyrian Dreams” which can be read on Kindle via Amazon Publishing.

3, 2, 1… PANDEMIC!

By Sara Collie

It was the lilacs that undid me. I could smell them long before I saw them, the air was suddenly thick with their distinct aroma. In a flash I was transported elsewhere: France, in my early twenties, in the back seat of my roommate’s car. I was tired and homesick when I piled myself in amongst my bags and books. Not just for our apartment in the city where we were returning after a weekend at her parents’ house in the middle of nowhere, but for something or somewhere else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At the last minute her mother chopped a small branch of lilacs off the bush in the front garden and handed them to me and I cradled them all the way home, keeping them safe as we bumped and rattled down the country lanes in the late afternoon sun. I was touched by her thoughtful gesture and comforted by the delicate scent which sent me spinning further back in time. To my grandmother’s garden, years and years before, back when I used to put on ballet recitals for my bemused family on Sunday afternoons, twirling in a black leotard and pale pink tights on the old path. There was a big lilac bush there too: it towered over me then in those days. Sometimes I was allowed to pick a posy from the garden with my grandmother and, when that bush was in bloom, I always headed straight to it. The sweet perfume of its puffy cones of pale little flowers was so intense, though it never lasted long in a jar. I would bury my face in the bush for what felt like hours, then. Even now, mid-run I’ve been stood with my nose pushed into the branches that are hanging over a garden fence for a full minute, crying as I inhale the fragrance, remembering what it like to feel comforted by lilacs, recalling how small and safe I once was.

 

Back in the present day, but before the lilacs reached me, another unmistakable scent had hung heavy in the evening air: petrichor, rising from the wet grass and warm, damp tarmac. All week the temperature had been rising at a rate unsuited to the gentle early days of April until it broke suddenly with a rumble of thunder that signaled the start of an intense and unexpected storm. After the rain cleared the air I felt a need to do the same thing with my own head. There is a lot going on these days, mid-pandemic, and the old familiar weight of anxiety has been growing heavier in the middle of my chest. I know from experience that the only thing I can do to diffuse it is move, and so, having persuaded the laces on my old trainers into a bow and cloaked myself in lycra, I set off into the early evening.

 

There’s always a point when I run when my thoughts dissolve and I find myself moving on autopilot. No matter what music I have playing in my headphones, it is a quiet place, characterized by calm. I follow my feet until I’m miles away from anywhere with a headful of nothing but the sound of my own lungs. This trance-like state is a kind of disassociation: a disconnect between body and mind which allows me to process things differently. I seek it out as a way of escaping my tendency to over-think things. Normally when I come round, back into my body, I feel refreshed, soothed and re-energised.

 

But this time, when I come back into the present moment, it is with a huge jolt. Suddenly, coming straight towards me is a person in a mask. Everything seems to slip sideways as I try to make sense of what is going on – not just on the street, but in a wider sense. Somehow, as I was running along, my brain managed to completely forget about the pandemic: the thousands of people dying every day; the awful conditions that doctors and nurses are working in; the pain and suffering; the fear that has crept into the edges of all our lives; the lockdown; the loss of work; the stockpiling, everything. It is as though time briefly stopped without me noticing and is now exploding back into motion, as the last six weeks hit me all at once.

 

It’s funny how quickly we adapt, how swiftly the strangest of gestures becomes ordinary. Before I have quite understood what is happening I am checking the road behind me and, noticing it is clear (because it’s still possible to die in all of the old, ordinary ways), I am veering out beyond the cycle lane, right into the middle of the road, giving the person a berth much wider than the suggested 2 metres. My heart is pounding with the shock of remembering; with the shock that I managed to forget it all, for even a moment. I can’t quite believe I was running along oblivious for however many minutes it lasted.

 

As if to compound the shock, an ambulance suddenly veers around the corner, siren screaming, lights ablaze. I glimpse the face of the paramedic in the passenger seat as he passes me. His jaw is set firm, his mouth a grim line. I realize that I need to catch my breath and absorb all the information that is reentering my consciousness so I stop running and pull my headphones out of my ears. I am greeted with absolute silence. Aside from the now distant ambulance, not a car is to be seen on the usually busy road which leads down to the hospital. I realize that the masked person is the first person I have encountered in the whole time I have been out. It is not surprising that it feels strange: such emptiness on a busy road like this would be unthinkable, ordinarily. I start running again, my body instinctively seeking movement, my eyes roaming the street for the next distraction.

 

There is a method for combatting anxiety called the 5,4,3,2,1 technique which involves identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Focusing on the list causes negative thinking spirals to get interrupted and paying attention to your senses grounds you in your body in the present moment, which helps to alleviate panic. I start to do it as I run. I can see cherry blossom, bluebells popping up in nearby gardens, potholes, the sky glowing orange, cars lined up on driveways. It doesn’t feel like enough to just glimpse things, so I slow down and pull my phone out of my pocket to start cataloguing the flowers, the light, the signs of life and nature that are lining my route. I tell myself it is so I can look through them later when I lie in bed awake, an alternative to doom-scrolling the headlines but it is a habit I often indulge in, even in ordinary times. A deep-seated need to try to preserve fleeting, beautiful things in nature. I notice, as I do every year, how quickly the blossom has already become confetti in the pavement cracks. I am always melancholy at the thought of how brief blossom is, but this year my feelings have been dialed up to a deeper kind of despair that is not just about the ordinary passing of time which rolls round every year to punch me in the gut. This year, death is so much more present in everyday life: a real threat that we are all living with and trying to avoid. For some people it is has come already, so much sooner than they or anybody expected. What to do with that thought?

 

I keep counting, only I can’t do four things I can touch because it isn’t safe to touch anything anymore, so I skip to three things I can hear: more sirens, wailing faintly a few roads away, my breath, fast and gulping. I cannot identify a third sound – this isn’t working as well as it usually does. What to do when the things that normally comfort me get over-ridden by the darkness of the world? Where do I turn then? Quick, what are two things I can smell? There’s the after-rain scent of petrichor, still heavy in the air, and then that’s when the lilacs get me and everything I was trying to hold together inside me comes pouring out in hot, insistent tears. I cross the street to the branches of just-opened purple blooms and sink my face into them. I am grounded in the now-ness of these little flowers and simultaneously transported to the layers of safer, more comforting memories in the past.

 

I tell myself it’s just a brief escape from the world as it is now, a distraction, nothing more. But I know how important it is to indulge in moments of sensory delight – to live them fully as they present themselves. I know that is where life is. That if I focus my attention in the here and now, I will see little glimpses of joy that will come and go in real time but endure somehow, somewhere, in my memories. I wonder if the moments I am living now, in this new world, are getting laid down in my memory bank, filed under lilac, cross-referenced with cherry blossom confetti and bluebell bonnets so that when I stop to sniff these flowers in years to come, I will be back here in a world of deserted streets, masks and sirens. I would rather keep my earlier lilac memories distinct from the world that is unfurling here and now this spring, but what if I can’t? The body remembers what it remembers in whatever way it chooses. I cannot will myself out of this situation and, as I found out a few streets back, slipping out of it involuntarily, even just for a moment is perturbing. Better to stick with the here and now. And right now, that means smelling the lilacs. They won’t last. None of this will.

 

Bio: Sara Collie is a writer based in the USA.