“Sometimes 3+3=2” © Brett Stout


The Numbers

The numbers
come in
and they don’t mean a thing
it’s just the same as it was
watching those foreign wars
with hospitals not coping
and the situation too dangerous to go
out on the deadly, deserted streets.

Then someone questions
the numbers and suggests
that though high
they’re too low
and don’t include the home
deaths and the care home deaths
and it’s even worse than
we thought. In this
country that gave birth
to Newton and Principia
Mathematica our government can’t even
add up correctly.

But it’s still just numbers.
Until it’s Auntie Joan
and Stevie Steve-O
you went to school with
and Kaylan you worked with
and all the excuses about
underlying health conditions
just don’t wash
‘cause we’re all dealing
with something. And then
at the end you wonder: which
number will signal me?


Allen Ashley’s poetry has recently featured online at Bonnie’s Crew and Words for the Wild and in print in Indigomania from Truth Serum Press (2020). His most recent book is as editor of The Once and Future Moon (Eibonvale Press, 2019). Allen is president elect of the British Fantasy Society.

Brett Stout is a 38-year-old artist and writer. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and Paramedic. He creates controversial art while breathing toxic paint fumes from a small cramped apartment referred to as “the nerd lab” in Myrtle Beach, SC. His artwork has appeared in a wide range of various media from small webzines like the Paradise Review to the University of Oklahoma Medical School Journal.