After A Phillies Game

Matthew Banash

Sitting in the backseat heading

north on 95 after the

game eating cold pretzels straight out

a crinkled, brown paper bag like

they’re going out of style―four

for a dollar, salt settles in

your lap, refineries burn in

Port Richmond―three pretzels to go.


Matt was born and raised in Levittown, PA, and now resides in NC where he writes poetry and short fiction.

Evensong, King’s College Chapel

Peter McEllhenney

Our days are longer than glass, longer than

Stone, longer than light and air, longer than

The waters of this softly flowing river that will

Pass, rise, fall, and pass again while we speak

These words, sing these words. Our days are

Longer than prayer or scholarship, than ambition

Or boasting or riot or sleeping or waking or food

Or kisses or the bright exalting summer of youth.

They are longer than sorrow or rejoicing or love

Or bones turned to powder. Our steps trace and

Retrace the paths of echoing generations, and

We are indistinguishable among them. For a

Thousand years has the black-haired girl sat in

Choir and stared black-eyed, and for a thousand

More will she sit and stare. We will speak these

Words, sing these words. For centuries the man

Has sat dry in his faith, and for centuries more

Will he sit. We will speak these words, sing these

Words. The dry man will find his faith and the

Black-eyed girl will look up. We have no need

For rushing. With our words and our singing

We make this glass and this stone the great

Still center of creation. The long grass moves

From the breath of our words. The trailing

Willows sway from the breath of our singing.

The river flows softly while we speak and we

Sing. These words and this singing pass from

Mouth to mouth and their living is continuous.

We do not matter at all. Our broken ineluctable

Particulars are translated into these words and

This singing, and we are made whole by them.

When the windows are blank cold darkness we

Speak. When the stones glow skin warm we sing.

There is confidence in our words and endurance

In our singing. The softly flowing river passes.

We speak and we sing.


Peter McEllhenney is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA. His work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, the Seminary Ridge Review, Referential Magazine, The Apeiron Review, and Blast Furnace. He blogs at www.PeterGalenMassey.com.

Field Study

Charles S. Carr

1.

E A G L E S written in vapors in the sky

A dalliance of eagles overhead

Midair clasping talons cart-wheeling down toward earth

Chant of boos at the site of the purple-winged god of the north wind,

2.

A procession of green double decker buses carrying the champs moves slowly up Broad Street

A rage of joy screams           people  barricaded swarm the parade route,

bearded player wearing a turban and Mummers costume dives into the crowd

floats on raised arms

3.

A few clutch urns of ancestral ashes

Man wearing a jersey with number 99

circles in a ghost dance

empties ashes on the edges of a park at Broad & Oregon

4.

Elderly couple wearing fated team caps holds a sign

58 Years! The Curse Is Gone!

Wings on everything

Every shade of green expressing loyalty to the Champions

The reflective glory on the back of jerseys: names numbers of their heroes

The face of Nick Foles taped over the image of a saint

5.

Two giant marble Pylons open out to the Parkway to a roaring sea

Boys huddled together standing on the shoulders of the sculpted soldiers

on the Civil War Memorial

A cap placed on the head of The Thinker at the Rodin Museum

A ski cap on the head of George Washington at Eakin’s Oval, a boy riding side saddle

Beer bottles stuck in branches decorate a tree in front of the Barnes

6.

Go-go dancer swivels up a light pole spins with an outstretched hand to the crowd

Two young men mud wrestle

Another body surfs through another mud patch

Cans of beer hurled at pole climbers

Finally one reaches the summit, guzzles a beer, directs the chorus below

in Fly Eagles Fly


Charles Carr was born in Philadelphia, educated at LaSalle and Bryn Mawr College, and has lived here his whole life. Charles was The Mad Poets Review’s 2007 First Prize Winner for his poem “Waiting To Come North” and has two published books of poetry: paradise, pennsylvania, (Cradle Press, 2009) and Haitian Mudpies & Other Poems (Moonstone Arts, 2012). For five years, Charles hosted the Moonstone Poetry series at Fergie’s Pub. Since 2016, he has hosted Philly Loves Poetry a monthly broadcast on Philly Cam. He has read poems in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, Ireland as part of the international project, 100 Thousand Poets For Peace.

Made Up Saints

Claire Scott

I weep at cartoons.

Wile E. Coyote free-falling from a cliff,

Sylvester flattened by an iron safe,

scads of sodden Kleenex at my side.

 

I put my name on a wait list for mercy

(a light-year long).

I murmur worn mantras,

send prayers to made-up saints:

 

Saint Jackson of bankruptcy,

Saint Sophia of clogged toilets,

Saint Lester of shapeless days

& tedious tomorrows.

 

Someone else dreams my dreams at night.

I toss on sweat-stained sheets.

 

Am I missing the point

or was it never there?

A diver yanks a rope,

a wrestler taps out,

I tip over my King.

Checkmate.


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

Home-Made Gods

Claire Scott

Why not

create gods that work better for us

no gods requiring two sets of dishes

or prayers five times a day knees-in-agony O Lord

maybe not gods who talk of turning a cheek

or promise happiness in some tenuous heaven

 

come Tuesday, bring clay or fabric, easels,

buttons, paint, scissors, paper, old magazines

let’s each make her own god or goddess

mine a marionette with gossamer wings

pale blue eyes and a lacquered smile

more capable than Siri or Alexa

 

mine obeys every flick of my finger

whips up a chalet in France or a sleek Ferrari

collapses quietly in the corner when not needed

expects no penance or confession

no tithing or coins pinging a collection plate

 

some strings attached


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

Sift

Amy Elizabeth Robinson

For Southeast Philly

The fragile bones.

The highway snaking

through the maze of rigs.

Refinery

towers rising

and belching invisible

stink into your ovaries

ripe with coming

sickness and perhaps

forbidden        or forgotten

desire. The pinched lips.

The dusky pink

carpet stretched out behind glass latched doors.

The elevator narrow

and smoky and closing and rising and releasing

us to more dusky pink,

more stretches of beige to your tall beige door.

Inside,

glass cabinets filled

with plates, tea cups, silver

spoons, leprechauns, Matryoshka

dolls, sheltered from the dust of

what? Of concrete

lots stretching to the edge of the Delaware?

The unspoken legacy of unspoken things,

sifted.             The not speaking.

The ladyfingers spongy

under the roofs of our mouths.

Our mouths too full

of sweet things

to ask questions. Still.


Amy Elizabeth Robinson is a poet, historian, and many other things living in the hills of Sonoma County, California. She grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, spent summer vacations in Cape May and Cape May Point, and also went to college in New Jersey. She holds degrees in history from Princeton, University College London, and Stanford, and studies Zen and creativity with the Pacific Zen Institute. She is a Contributing Editor of PZI’s online magazine of Zen and the arts, Uncertainty Club, and her work has also appeared in Deluge, Literary Mama, West Trestle Review, DASH, Vine Leaves, and as part of Rattle’s innovative Poets Respond program.

Tidings

Theodore Eisenberg

I understand why the shore line

is uncertain; why castles are sand.

Gulls carry the harbor and drop

it past buoys, as if bread had

fallen from their mouths.

 

A reckless hermit crab

navigates across a blanket.

A life guard judges, and

with evening, combs beach

for what is stranger.

 

When sea floats and sky

heralds concerts on a jutting

pier. How waves receive news

within percussion. Where a local

band adumbrates to the sea.

 

We undress for the sun;

at night regretting ourselves,

embraced by dark space, by

fumbling hands, in legs. A sea

breeze, cogent as undertow.


Theodore Eisenberg retired from the practice of labor law in 2014 to write every day. His poems have appeared, or will soon appear, in The Listening Eye, The Aurorean, Poetica, Thema, Rattle, Halfway Down the Stairs, Slipstream Press, Jewish Literary Journal, Crosswinds Press, concis, Main Street Rag and Ragged Sky Anthology. His chapbook, This, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. His poems are what becomes “this” for him – fragments received within the circle of his intimacy.

Also They Are Families Too

Alicia Askenase

In the apartment

there is smoke.  Margarita comes to sit

and packs feet into shoes.  Time for

the next shift.  It’s original

sin if you believe it.

 

They have begun to round us up,

vienen para nosotros, in Jersey, in LA nos esperan

en Wal-Mars, escuelas and hospitals.

We won’t be

there to pick you up

in our arms today hold

your sister’s hand, bring her home.

 

Wind blows the bedroom curtains

apart.        The sky divides into blue and white.

Three birds nest in the tallest

winter roble.

Two cannot fit

in so narrow kitchen.   She thought

she had tiled the walls with art.


Alicia Askenase is a writer, educator, and museum docent. She is the author of The Luxury of Pathos (Texture Press), Shirley Shirley (Sona Books), Suspect, and Cover. Her poetry has appeared most recently in the anthologies, Not Our President and New Work by Philadelphia Poets.

I Consider a Twitter Follow

Cortney Lamar Charleston

I pendulum on whether to press the button. I pause. I ponder

the little blue birdie that tells all of our thoughts to the world,

wonder if bald eagles have already gone extinct―dropped

dead to the earth like bombs built of bone, beak and feather.

 

To say I’m living in a time without symbols is also to say

there is no higher calling than protest, than the calling of

fingertip to keyboard, our new key of life, and yet I hesitate

to endorse anyone in a way that can be counted like a vote

of confidence, when, on the contrary, I’m shaken daily

solely for the music of it, bone-shingled skin bag beaten

against by tempestuous winds I’m told are coincidence

rather than conflict between our planet and our politics.

 

I believe the word I’ve been looking for is fear. Everything

bigger than me there was to believe in now seems entirely

too big a target on my back; I’m left interrogating myself

on what I still hold faith in during these dumbfounding days:

 

when I’m in a church, I still believe in the idea of divinity;

when I’m in a school, I still believe in the idea of education;

if I’m invited into a woman, I’m to believe, at least, in power,

programmed to be a man not unlike all those men I despise,

another reason I’m made queasy at contemplating the click,

though it’s a way to keep my enemy close but also theoretical.

 

I stare directly into the dearth of punctuation and grammar;

the gutter of blood above my eyelid overflows, causes a glitch

of motion, a flicker in the flesh. I’m smart enough to stay away,

but curiosity is a narcotic, can kill. But so does a lack thereof,

I know, because a little blue birdie told me so, sweetly sang

he’s trying to distract you, so I turned around to find nothing

behind me, and that’s when it happened:

 

a button somewhere

being pushed on somebody,

a trail of digits dictating

follow him, follow him,

follow him


Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. He was awarded a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and he has also received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He currently serves as a poetry editor at The Rumpus.

Clerestory

Melissa Stein

By the roots of my hair some god got hold of me.

I survived that voltage and barbed wire.

Now each day is clerestory,

each night a palimpsest of scars.

The militia pulls on its boots and waits.

On the altars, doves peck each other bloody.

 

A spider traverses its unseen wire

in the rarefied ether of the clerestory.

He told me it wouldn’t scar

if I rubbed salt in it. Wait

for the psalm to surface in the blood.

Close behind is the conquering army.

 

A trapped dove crashes through the clerestory,

a bewildered militia of scars.

I strip the insulation and wait

for ignition: for sweet oil to bloody

the engine. Too late. He’s left me

behind, a shipwreck of transept and wire—

 

you will know me by the scars.

By the crowned and pulsing weight

of every lost and bloodied

thing. Gilded and radiant is the enemy.

His last message traveled the wire

and vanished. God-blind is the clerestory.

 

All that’s left is to hide and wait

for the report of jackboots in a forest of blood.

To some, it is a symphony.

We collect feathers and bind them with wire

and twine. These wings are our clerestory.

The engine stalled, that metal body scarred

 

the rails, and in its wake, the blood

bearing its testimony.

The bodies dragged. The shallow graves, the fire.

Who stabbed out the windows of the clerestory?

What will annihilate these scars?

The immaculate landmines wait.

 

We are bound by blood to our enemy

while God feeds stars to his clerestory.

Why aren’t they detonated? The whole world waits.

 


Melissa Stein is the author of the poetry collections Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and Rough Honey, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, Harvard Review, New England Review, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, and others, and she’s received fellowships from the NEA, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. She is a freelance editor in San Francisco.