Issue 7

Editor's Note

Welcome to issue seven of Distance Yearning!

After a few weeks of guest editors, it's been a pleasure to take the reins again. I’ve definitely been feeling the pressure, and I think the most myself I’ve felt lately has been working on assembling this issue over the past few days. I forget, sometimes, how key making art is to who I am, and I’m glad Distance Yearning is here to give space to folks who feel the same way.

To that end, I’m so excited to welcome the writers making their Distance Yearning debut: Chris Costello, Mina Darling, Aaron Jordan, Renée Kay, & William Smythe all sent in some great work. This week is also the debut of Mary DiMaggio, who, among other things, is my mother! She wrote “Everyone Asks” a few weeks back but because I was fuzzy about our email address early on it got sent to (instead of so someone out there who owns that account* got to read it early. It feels like a good fit for this week’s theme, so I’m pleased to bring it to you now; a dispatch from the frontlines of COVID-19 crisis.

I’m also thrilled by the work of our returning artists, with Lucas Feratu, Mariah Ghant, Niamh Hennessy, and Maria Picone all making their second appearances, and a fantastic showing by Distance Yearning regulars dh croasdill, Collin Knopp-Schwyn, Richard Le Due, Madeline Phillips, & Kayla Schwab. I especially want to highlight the ways some of our returning artists are branching out this week, including Richard with his most political DY piece yet, Maria & Kayla making their visual art debut in this issue, and Madeline, who I’m excited to announce will be the guest editor of our next issue.

Please check our Twitter and Instagram this afternoon for next week's prompt, written by our new guest editor! In the meanwhile, this week's was:

The gravity of the situation. 🌌 Your astrology app says pressure in routine. Everything feels heavy now; even the smallest tasks weigh you down like pieces of dark matter. Your astrology app says pressure in thinking & creativity. We're past the event horizon, where the laws of physics warp in ways you don’t understand. Your astrology app says pressure in spirituality. Your astrology app says pressure in self.”


*who I’ve decided is a financial consultant named David I. Stancey (thus

Chris Costello: "Rules for Surviving Here, Or:", "Open All Night"

Rules for Surviving Here, Or:

whenever anybody asks where I’m from,
I tell ‘em there’s a liquor store the size of a warehouse.
That’s the town telling on itself. The one gay bar used to be a theatre.
Fourth in poverty and fifth in snowfall.
Everyone who can afford to leave already has.
Even the buildings are begging to be used.

Guess what I’m saying is
Rapture already came thru
here, and we’re all that’s left.
With our wounded dog
bodies, whimpering for scraps.
Desire devoured by hunger.

When it rains, which is often,
we fight one another for water.
Never begin with the narrow kindness
of the parking garage. Refuse to wait
for anyone to stop. There are still shadows here.
Exit only from the gate, never the way you came.

Dying doesn’t feel
like drowning, or falling
asleep, it feels like starving.

The hospital’s parking lot is full again.
I drive past with one hand on the wheel
gnawing my fingers off. It’s months till Christmas
but everyone’s hoping for a miracle.
Finding a heads-up penny on the sidewalk.

Open All Night

If we’re born to run, how do we know
when to stop? You’re the only man
who’s ever touched me without drawing blood.
Why can’t I let your sheets confirm the outline of my body?
I curl up in a comma near the headboard,
refuse to sit with my back to the door.
When your fingers probe my hungry mouth
it’s all I can do not to bite your hand.

Chris Costello is a writer and editor from Central New York. His work has appeared in Protean Magazine, Marlskarx, and Paintbucket, among others. He can be reached on Twitter @WriteToRebel or via email at

dh croasdill: “sketch of a black hole”, "tales from the witch-house #3."

sketch of a black hole

Only observable bodies & only observable in its relation to a body. Needing all things & folding into all things more, inside it it is massive. It is a single breath rung on tile, it is Hildegard calling for calling back in all things. She is singing only to wonder what absent surface caused this infinite density of skin in sight. It is missing in bodies & firmaments buzzing & burning below the bar. Always becoming observable in other bodies only, all things gathering in droplets on the tile. It is largely disordered.

dh croasdill-benjamina has recently wed her potted tree. the reception is tomorrow at noon. byob.

Mina Darling: two poems

no title :)

someone once told me
that the biggest crime
one can ever commit
is to claim to know another

as if
once you state it
as though fact

you place barriers-
over another’s person

and sometimes I wonder
how many times
my person
has been claimed by another

when I cannot lay claim
over my own person


I have 5 books on the
coffee table
2 notebooks
a sewing project
some pens and
no coffee
I have 5 books on the
projects table
that sits in the living room
I won’t read them
but I’ll open them up
stare at the pages
try to decipher meanings
among the symbols
on the pages
I’ll pace around the room
maybe feed the cats
and I’ll stare at my wall
I won’t
file my taxes
call the insurance company
apply for jobs
or learn a new skill
When I talk to my mom
I’ll tell her I’m keeping busy
that I
cleaned the bathroom today
earlier I took a toothbrush
to the baseboards
inhaled the bleach
and imagined doing the same
to my mind
and after that I did not
clean the sink
clean the mirror

take out the trash
or scrub the shower
but I did sit on my bed
and stare at my wall
I’ll tell my dad
I meditated
if he knew I was trying
to let the weight of the world
crush me
maybe he wouldn’t agree
I’m great
I tell my friends
I don’t tell them
that I didn’t eat for 2 days
because I wanted to feel
even if it was gnawing inside
my emptiness belongs to me
no one can take that away
I have 5 books on the
coffee table
I don’t know
what they’re about
but maybe tomorrow I’ll try

Mina hasn’t sent in a bio yet, but will soon!

Mary DiMaggio: “Everyone Asks”

Everyone asks, “How is it?”

I say, “It is ok. I am getting by.”

But it is not ok. Will it ever be ok? I don’t know, but I do not tell anyone this. I just do what I do on a daily basis for 25 years.

I went to school for this because I was young and pregnant and wanted to help people. I also needed a career to support my son. My own little Aries and Tax deduction. For that was when he was born. On April 15.

This April 15th will be different. For the first time, I did not take off for his birthday. He is grown and does not need me to. But I do not know if I will be able to see him that week. I don’t know when I will get to see him again. This is one of the things I worry about.

The other is work. I still get to go to work. Four days a week. I am so lucky? Am I lucky? While I have always loved my job, in good times and bad, it is harder than ever. It is hard, but what makes it harder is the people and the constant complaints and comparisons. “I have 3 covid patients. You only have 2.” Every morning it is the same issue, the comparing of who has a harder group of patients. They do not talk about the patients. They do not talk about how sick they are or what care they need. All of the complaints are selfish. I usually volunteer to take a harder group just to cut the arguing.

Every day my Aries/Tax deduction asks me if I am ok. “Are you sick?” “Are you being careful?” He is a worrier, as many of us are. I ask him the same. I assure him I am being as careful as I can. Our N95 masks have to last 3 days, sometimes more. The misinformation is confusing. Our patients are sick and alone. The ones on isolation have to have the doors closed. There are no windows. Most have no phones. The TV company won’t go in to turn the TV on. The night shift only goes in the room once or twice per shift. So, in the morning, the patient needs suctioning, turning, cleaning.

Each day has been a struggle. I feel overwhelming exhaustion. I do not show this at work. Why? Because it does no good to complain there. The rest of the staff does. We are all on edge and I know that teamwork is what is needed. I help who I can, do what I can to make a bad situation better. I do not feed into the panic. I do not listen to gossip or Trump or rumors. I just keep my mask on and care for my patients.

Thank you

Mary is a nurse in Brooklyn, on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis; when not caring for patients, she's caring for her cats and her sourdough starter (all currently thriving). She’s also the editor’s mom.

Lucas Feratu: “Traveling Light”

You’re mostly coherent when you wake up under where the bed ought to have been, when this journey began.

This is how faster-than-light travel works: fear and hoping against hope that you will not have to look your pilot in the eyes as the sound of a computer fan whining itself to death fills your ears as time compresses. Magic, also, applied magic with the opposite of hope and the inverse of despair combining under just the right stars to tread well-traveled neural paths of the universe. You are going to a dendrite and the floor is so upside down.

You know where your bones are. You stacked them, individually, intricate calcium puzzle pieces, one with a big scar through it from when you broke your leg one million years ago, before you began your journey, when you had the capacity to have had a youth. You know what gravity it is; it is what sticks you to the walls when you think too much about having a body, when you look at your bones and remember that they are supposed to be inside you, making red blood cells.

You take your skull, your voice box and some lung tissue and leave behind your left eyeball, making space for a memory of standing under an open blue sky. You like that memory, and it is not aspirational, no matter what Angelique tells you otherwise. Her own inability to give in to now, to forget gravity once and for all, is not your problem. Your problem is when your bones stick to the wall and you have to collect them and stack them up against like catacomb decorations, your tibias crossed by your small window out into the blurred memories of stars the pilot most certainly does not mark its way by.

Today is the bi-monthly staff meeting, and you will be ten minutes early if you leg it. The path to the main conference room has changed again, and you find yourself dangerously near the bridge before you take an up and press open the door. Carl is there, his gaze focused out the window and on the potted plant that has stayed as it has always been.

“He doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation,” he explains to you in mauve, referring to Andreas, who is sometimes the one speaking with that body. “He doesn’t believe we’re running out of food.”

They’re both right. You try to explain this to them before each meeting, individually, but it doesn’t stick. Your words lack the relevant gravitas. They’re both right. You are not running out of food for the journey and you will run out of food the moment reality, quote-un-quote, rushes back in like water into a cracked bathysphere and drown all of you, the pilot especially.

When you arrive at the dendrite you will wake up with all your bones in your bed on the floor as though you were asleep, as though you were dreaming, and though you had not experienced attempting to explain in bad green to Carl that he does not have to worry, to Andreas that he does in fact have to worry.

You like thinking about it, the raw wisdom tooth wound of the knowledge that you are at best a nightmare. The purpose of the staff meetings is to explain the nightmare, to explain what it means to experience travel as a thought moves from neuron to neuron, two million light years of experienced time.

You hope you remember what it means to speak in colors, at least. You know, from experience, from long memories you only recover when you are here, when you are traveling, when the pilot is a suffering danger of absolute agony you cannot look at even if you gave into your overwhelming curiosity, that you will not remember the colors. You will remember the incoherent order of a dream you shared with the rest of the crew.

For now, at least, you remember yourselves, and you can watch gravity fail to affect your skull as the rest of them file in for the meeting.

Lucas Feratu is an author and all around bundle of spiders splitting his time between the midwest and the northeast. He is currently dealing with quarantine by writing (and reading!) lots of fanfiction and thinking very very hard about where he put his left Achilles' Tendon. His twitter is @ftmshepard, which is not entirely safe for work

Aaron Jordan Gabaldon: “The Hole”

There is a hole in the world where I live.
Deep dark and empty.
anything you throw in it sinks into oblivion forever or for a few weeks.
It varies, it depends.

The darkness moves like water flowing downward.
It's a sink with an open drain.
Light and air and objects pulled down and lost.
It’s hypnotic, it’s destructive.

The rush of air sounds like a whistle or a scream.
It sounds hungry and alarming.
I put words together to accompany it, music and lyrics.
They go unheard, they go hollow.

I sit and I stare, I speak and I listen.
But there is no answer.
There is a hole in the world where I live.
I am it. The hole is me.

Aaron Gabaldon is a New York based writer, artist, and podcaster that is queer and probably rewatching a show for the millionth time right now to keep away the “mean quaranteenies.”You can check out his book of prose and poetry, Reasons Hidden By Leaves anywhere you buy e-books.

Mariah Ghant: “#100”, ““You’re Feeling Confined Today” ???”


Take out your toothbrush and use it to scrub the back back around of your brain where you spend too much time searching for big worded synonyms. Tell everyone how much money you’re paying for this education when everyone can see it’s going to waste on your mix-matched socks and nipple piercing. Wonder why no one wants to ask you to coffee or dinner or golf. Remember that you didn’t go to their half-birthday party and feel ashamed but also remember that you were too busy online shopping and tuning all of your sentences into questions. It’s ok. It’s all alright. Just remember your mouthwash.

“You’re Feeling Confined Today” ???

| I stay awake at night trying to |
| peel back my ceiling and reveal |
| the catalog of stars |
| I’ll flip through the pages to each one |
| and find a name a picture a title a map |
| to hurtle me closer to the sun |
| I wish to pull the covers up over my |
| head cuddle and curl in and roll over and around and hope |
| I am still breathing |
| still counting sheep as they bound over the stars |
| maybe I am more than my zodiac |
| more than a pattern sparkling across the night |
| maybe I am just napping |
| just drifting away into the void |

Mariah Ghant (she/hers) is an artist based out of Philly, but she is currently practicing social distancing in her hometown outside of Chicago with her mom. Mariah loves to interact with art through many different mediums particularly poetry writing, acting, dancing, teaching, and of course, perfecting the perfect breakfast meal.

Niamh Hennessy: “Low Pressure”

Crushing thunder clouds hide the delicate sky
Raindrops the size of acorns
Paint the pavement a darker shade of grey
To match the weeping overhead

People dash to shelter
Avoiding the penny drop of moisture
Sliding down their warm necks, making them shiver
With the feeling of an unwelcome visitor

For the duration of the crush of feelings
That crash like lightning bolts,
There is no gratitude
No; gratitude is better felt in times of freedom

Niamh straddles the line between right and left brained; a medical device engineer by day and an aspiring poet, yogi and dancer at all other times. She's planning to hug and kiss her friends when they meet in person again but in the meantime she's reconnecting with her family in the Irish countryside.

Renée Kay: “my astrology app tells me to ask people how they avoid becoming dead inside”

fuck and
repaint something
don't trust
the need to attach
don't be afraid
fear collapses
the good kind of love
what are you capable of
you will not fall apart right now
you have to become
a complete person
you will not
it's not the end
it's not the world
don't look
are you easy
fuck and
make everything
your body isn't
tell everyone
your body
wasn't designed for this world
you will not fall apart right now
you were already living
you have to decide
avoid becoming
being nothing
is political
your attention is
the edge of insanity
be mindful
your body
does not belong to you
an existential fact
you will not fall apart right now

*source material: Co — Star daily notifications

renée kay (they/them) is a queer poet in new york city that works at Brooklyn Poets & was most recently published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry. they spend their days carefully selecting books from their bookshelves that they won’t be able to focus enough to read. you can follow them on Twitter/IG @reneekay__.

Collin Knopp-Schwyn: "An Always Scene from the Factory Floor"

Must shining Heroes always sidle into factories, assemblylines, chemical plants?

(“I’ve got you now, dastard!”)

Must skulking Villains always catch them there and bind them to conveyor belts, and pull the lever that starts the machinery and leave before the moment of demise?

(“Ta ta, old friend, it’s been fun, hasn’t it?”)

Must slinking Sidekicks always come to rescue, facing off against the challenges of operating modern machinery?

(“The red button, or the green one, or the lever or the toggle?”)

Must slamming Stampers always crash ahead, foretelling the doom of the ensnared?


It always happens this way.

Little things are different, but there is always a Hero and always a Villain and a Sidekick and a Stamper.

And there is always Refuse, lain along the belt that leads the Hero to the Stamper.

Sometimes rock or rubble or scrap or garbage or even perfectly good items, toys, consumer goods, food, always fed along the conveyor into the Stamper’s maw.

I am always nothing to the Villian but a bed upon which to lay the Hero, to whom I am always nothing but fodder to be pulverized to telegraph their upsetting end which never comes thanks to the Sidekick, to whom I am always nothing but seconds on the clock until their Hero is no more at the will of the Stamper, for whom I am always an unfelt day’s labor.

I cannot begrudge this fate as it always works out well for others, but I must ask: may I never refuse it?

Collin Knopp-Schwyn was bestowed with an odious middle name.

Richard Le Due: “You Used To Be So Stoic”

The pressure is building with every change
of socks, underwear left on the floor,
bed sheets still unwashed because
they smell like before,
when six feet belonged in the dirt,
rubber gloves something you stole
from high school Biology class,
face masks a reason to stare.
Now, it's too easy to stay lost
among the stink of pyjamas
worn for days, ties hanging in closets
like dead snakes you never realized
how you charmed, while moths
sniff their next meal, until distracted
by out outside light, left on all night
again. Your forgetfulness just another sign
that the gods of capitalism
have abandoned you. You heathen,
afraid to touch money,
scared of a full parking lot
at the hardware store,
where light bulbs were on special,
can't build a cross without nails either.
They exclaim: You grieve people you never met,
where is the profit in that?
They forsake how you cry in the dark
when the silence gives voice to those dead
buried in mass graves, stacked in trucks,
died with no one
to hold their hand, say a goodbye
that doesn't need to be heard,
but must be said, and then
on Twitter, someone (a better disciple than you)
complains about the economy,
GDP, unemployment, taxes- their profile picture
shows them wearing a clean collared shirt,
ready to step over the dead
to find comfort in a two-for-one sale for white bread.

Richard LeDue was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, but currently lives in Norway House, Manitoba with his wife and son. His poems have appeared in various publications throughout 2019, and more work is forthcoming throughout 2020, including a chapbook from Kelsey Books.

Madeline Phillips: "Writing My Own Horoscope For The Apocalypse.", "White Snakes (A Quarantine Dream)"

Writing My Own Horoscope For The Apocalypse.

At midnight, I wonder if the aristocrat who named the Venus flytrap was a misogynist.
Names have power. What better way to take revenge on a lover who made his blood flow?
I abandon routine to become an archaeologist; unearthing my curiosity,
I submit to my worst tastes (a shapeless crush tattoos his name on the back of my eyelids.)
Meanwhile, pictograms of well-plated food mirror boarded storefronts.
The morning air is fluent in several romance languages:
desire, devastation, depression, disease, and death.
I am so wired; I wish the rising Gemini sun had arms so he could hold me.

White Snakes (A Quarantine Dream)

I can’t sleep because fear
keeps penetrating me.
(He never asks for consent.)
White snakes slither beneath my skin.
They are my veins,
sinews, synapses;
they are cobras,
flaring their crowns
and flashing their fangs,
but they never harm me.
One coils around my heart,
another writhes inside my womb.
My colon is one long cobra. It strikes
me that my spine is a lightning bolt. It cracks
my torso in half and thunders through my limbs.
I’m afraid I will electrocute myself
if I take a shower, or worse, kill the cobras.
They may be venomous, but they protect me -
my rib cage is a supple stack of snakes biting their tails,
contracting and expanding like an infinite accordion,
the constant pressure forcing me to create.
I feel so full all of the time, even when I forget to eat,
and white flakes fall from my hair every day.
It’s snowing in May and cobras are cold blooded:
no wonder my flight or fight response is to freeze.

Madeline is an actress, fine art model, and poet based in NYC. Quarantine is making her feel like she's living in a Chekhov play; she spends her days dancing on the threshold between hysterical laughter and tears (like, literally dancing, and usually in her kitchen.) Her biggest quarantine accomplishment to date is mastering the fine art of whipped coffee. Follow her at @reign_of_madeline and @minimodelmadeline.

Maria Picone: “Nebula”

As a freelancer, Maria S. Picone has been dealing with cat meetings, un/muted mics, and self-scheduling for longer than most. She is a writer and artist. You can find out more on

Kayla Schwab: a structural collage

Kayla Schwab lives in Brooklyn and usually writes poetry with Sweet Action Poetry Collective and Brooklyn Poets, but she occasionally makes visual art as well, as you can see here. She is also a certified yoga teacher and streams free classes on Instagram every week! Follow her at 80smomchic for yoga and other fun things.

William Smythe: “Quarantine Triolet”

Sun shining down on a new clean floor
Some dust motes floating lazily
Don’t think I could ask for anything more
Sun shining down on a new clean floor
Rapturous delight of feet d’amour
Giggling cause her toes can breathe
Sun shining down on a new clean floor
Some dust motes floating lazily

William has been watching the cars go past his building all during quarantine, trying to pass the time between writing. And finally learned how to perfect a pork-loin.