James E. Cherry

Contributor Biography

James E. Cherry is the author of three volumes of poetry, two novels and a collection of short fiction. His latest collection of poetry, Loose Change, was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press and his novel, Edge of the Wind, will be re-released by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in 2022.

Cherry has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and

is an adjunct professor of English at the University of Memphis-Lambuth.

He resides in Tennessee, USA. Visit jamesEcherry.com. 

GOOD FRIDAY

Late afternoon divides Parkway Memorial 

Cemetery between sun and shadow, my family 

and the bones of others. A south wind gathers April

 

at my feet, plants Spring in my eye. I stand

over gravesites, my nephew on the left, my mother

on the right and my father between. My hands bear

 

no flowers nor my tongue weighed with words. Instead

I have come to listen to the dash that separates dates 

they were born from transitions to dust.

This burial ground sways, falls toward the horizon.

I lean upon the earth, strain to hear an echo of my name,

allow silence to remind me who I am.

THE NEWS FROM WUHAN

The professor from Central China 

Normal University informs me about life 

in Wuhan, that for the past two months 

it consists of walls built by hands of quarantine, 

 

dreams that dance beyond bedroom windows.

Luo Lianggong has known heartbreak, 

lost much when the Sichuan earth moved 

in 2008 and chooses to document suffering 

 

and how it shapes the human condition.

Today, his email wishes my family health 

and peace and asks for a poem, maybe two. I think 

about Lianggong long after I respond yes 

 

and hit send, our lives languages apart, yet 

the air we breathe a wafer upon our tongues

and to raise a few lines of verse 

is another way of saying I love you.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Africans in America have always known

the meaning of social distancing long before 

the lungs of the world struggled for air.

 

They learned definition in holes of ships,

at the end of master’s lash, at the feet of Jim Crow,

in neighborhoods redlined with poverty,

 

at houses of worship (that’s what Malcolm said),

by a Governor’s decree, under a judge’s gavel,

the end of a rope. Now, days are measured 

 

by six feet of separation, regardless of skin or gender

red state or blue state, this virus

come to do what amendments to a Constitution

 

could only dream of—remind us of a common future.

Hours are spatial and disorienting: Filet mignon

from Chandelier is delivered in paper bags, curbside.

The marque at the Empire Theatre blindfolded. Planet 

Fitness’ parking lot distended and slovenly. The clippers

at Pearl’s Barber Shop refuse to sing. This Sunday

my neighbor, Shane, a white man, stands 

on his front porch and stretches in the cool, crisp air.

I raise my window, shout his name 

across the morning and applaud

that he is alive.

Genevieve Wong

Contributor Biography

Genevieve Wong is a teacher, writer, editor, and museum docent. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the City University of Hong Kong and an M(Ed) (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning) from the National Institute of Education, Singapore. She co-edited 50 Years, 50 Voices: 50 Years of English in Singapore Schools (MOE) and poetry anthologies Sound of Mind (Ethos Books), Love at the Gallery, and Love and Life at the Gallery. Her works have appeared in various journals and anthologies.

Anno Domini MMXXI

Can a soul prosper when 

the church service is 

a high definition amalgamation 

of pixels displaying

two-inch people singing praises, 

when sermons can be 

 

muted, or simply 

exchanged for something

less strident, 

less passionate? 

 

Can a soul ponder upon

unfathomable divine mysteries,

the wisdom of the ages, 

parchment scrolls found preserved 

in ancient clay jars,

when a consolidation of 

unending knowledge appears 

before wonder can begin to unfurl? 

 

Can a heart rejoice in waiting,

when processed images blur 

desperate realities, raw longings, 

when cyclostyled lifestyles 

paper over contemplation, 

quiet denial, joyful discipline? 

 

Can a heart race with

strange Aldersgate warmth,

the hope of life eternal,

when news cycles tell of 

violent catastrophes, 

wars and rumours of wars, 

unseen viruses? 

 

When this is all over, 

when the birth pangs cease, 

when every man did 

what he deemed fit.