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  • NYS Writers Institute

Trolley Poetry Friday: A pair of poems

See the breaking news from the Times Union?

"Facing a disturbing spike in COVID-19 positivity and the arrival of the omicron variant, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced a statewide mask mandate 'in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.'"

The mask mandate goes into effect Monday and will run at least through Jan. 15. Read more

But before you read the news today (oh boy), read a pair of poems published in the new edition of Trolley journal we launched yesterday.

There is intimacy in shared experience

Fatima Shah

During my first hour of 2021, I think about generational trauma. My family survived the 1947 Partition of India. Collective trauma can sometimes become collective healing, operative words being “can” and “sometimes.” If a generation can pass down trauma, can the entirety of a species? Sometimes? Always? Held together by the universality of breathing, masks on our faces, holding our exhales close to our chests, not letting them venture far, not safe to share the same air as the people we love. We used to share so much more than oxygen. Turned inwards, alone for months; restricted to our most intimate connections. (Families, roommates, clandestine lovers, other trauma bonding companions.) This year has been hardest on friendship. Friends, and friends of our friends, and partners of our friends. Friendly coworkers, idle acquaintances who would invite us to get coffee, go to a concert, dinner, game night. Constant, daily, background hum of human contact, casual interactions on sidewalks, smiles across the street. I miss things I don’t even want to admit I miss. Mandatory faculty meetings, overcrowded malls, even bars full of drunk people I couldn’t stand, obligatory handshakes at awkward events. Maybe I just miss experiencing the full range of my own humanity. We do not understand what we will have survived after this. Indelible seeds are being painted upon our bodies, invisible in the persevering darkness. Resting before germinating, getting ready to reveal themselves in an eventual light of day.

Fatima Shah

Fatima Shah uses the process of writing to pull together her dozens of seemingly disparate interests, ideas, and identities. Weaving musings about her personal healing journey with weirdly elaborate science metaphors and unexpected rants about capitalism, she unapologetically brings her whole self to everything she creates. (Social media: @jasminegeekface on Twitter and Instagram. Website:

Screenshot of @maddy_rose_RN Twitter page

Before contracting the virus, she was otherwise healthy and active and taught competitive dance part-time.

Here is Joan McNerney's poem from Trolley.

For a friend who is dying

Joan McNerney

Even though oceans have been charted mountaintops marked there are no words for your pain. All the stratosphere of heaven climbed yet there is no course through human sorrow. Every muscle counted and every bone but no formula was written for your grief. In languages of languages chromosomes numbered named. What can be said to your sorrow, your pain?

Joan McNerney

Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, journals and anthologies too numerous to mention. She has four Best of the Net nominations.

Her latest titles are The Muse in Miniature and Love Poems for Michael both available on and


The new issue of the NYS Writers Institute’s Trolley journal is filled with essays, poems and flash fiction from more than 70 contributors. Check it out at Trolley: Life During COVID, Year Two.


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