Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

A university student reads his notes in an otherwise empty lecture hall.

It’s Not Anything to Worry About

in Coronavirus/Health by

I want to ask my literature students,
What effect does a double negative have?

(I can’t not read the news, and I’m not not grinding my teeth as the notifications appear.)

Circumlocution, they might say. Padding.
Avoids direct declarations. Truth buffers.

(I’m not not having imaginary conversations
these days, my dog an ersatz pupil.)

Or they might discuss the positive statement
in negative packaging. Needs unwrapping.

(I’m not not fighting an urge to pray.
I don’t not believe in God.)

Maybe they’d point out my ambiguity.
Maybe they know the word liminal.

Maybe my denial is a two-note chord:
partial, incomplete, almost there.

Maybe I can’t not begin to grieve.



Marta Shaffer’s work can be found in issues of HOOT Review, FIVE:2:ONE, b(Oink), and others. She teaches high school English in Oroville, CA. Marta has worked for several journals, most recently Watershed Review in Chico, CA. Marta hails from Minnesota.

Photo by Phillipe Bout.


Teachers have lost colleagues to the coronavirus and worry about being next. But, they say, no one’s listening.

Latest from Coronavirus

A nurse looks to the side, covered in a mask and shield over their eyes.

The Vaccine

By Stephanie Kendrick. Nurses, like nuns, bless it as soon as it

Vantage Point

By Johnson Cheu. The best way to go is in your sleep.
A photo of glass vials labeled "Covid-19 Vaccine"

Funeral Procession

By Andy Posner. “Billionaires have added about $1 trillion to their total
The night sky's stars are framed by trees in this photo.


By Terri Kirby Erickson. Stargazing, like death, clarifies our place in the
Go to Top