Why I Need to Downsize

Nancy Scott

Because I looked for two months for the wind-chimes.
Because those soundless bells were stuck in that desk drawer the hole time.
Because I hate dust.
Because I hate to dust.
Because I have less energy and don’t know why.
Because disability is a time-bomb for some.
Because I mostly don’t eat healthily.
Because I started my sixth decade.
Because I forget.
Because I remember.
Because I can’t always hold morning in a fist of wanting.
Because people can build on what I give away.
Because there isn’t enough success.
Because I want more than I can.
Because dropped things sink.
Because I must know necessary from nostalgic.
Because what I need to pray for is changing.
Because I will want this draft tomorrow.

Nancy Scott, Easton PA, is an essayist and poet.   Her over 600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries.   Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Contemporary Haibun Online, Foliate Oak,  Stone Voices, and WordGathering.  Her third chapbook, co-authored with artist Maryann Riker, is entitled “The Nature of Beyond.”  Her essay “One Night at Godfrey’s” won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest.  

A Still Pond Means Certain Suffocation

Phylinda Moore

last frigid winter the koi pond was a sacrifice
each fish a gilded canvas of mottled
orange, flecked gold, and white blotches
slipping under an icy crust
then slower
the snow
brushed from the thick, ice plate
unveiled their decorative performance
suspended like ornament glass.


Phylinda has enjoyed living in Philadelphia for ten years. Visit her website phylindamoore.com for links to more poems.

Poem: Dark Moon

Amy Thatcher

Let’s nail the night back to where it should have been,
above the streets that blacken the eye
of the moon we’ve punched shut so many times;
Where we hammered out the classic rhythm
of an un-repairable heart:

I love you, do you love me?

It’s love that confounds things, collapses
like a bird into a pane of glass,
the body sheer rise and fall,
throb and beat.  A rhythm
to steady our hands against
as night slips out of its wheelchair.
The moon cut in half by tremulous branches
elaborately working its blackout.

Amy Thatcher is a Philadelphia native, currently living in Port Richmond.

Poem: GOTT

Althea Azeff

fell from his sky
and landed
in the palm of my left hand.
Now, whenever I see a friend,
I only wave ‘hello’ with the right.

A Philadelphia native, Althea Azeff holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate, both from the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked as a writer for more than 20 years, and her most recent publication is a collaborative effort, Transfer Pricing in Action, published by Kluwer Law International. Outside of her day job making complex tax topics approachable, she is currently working on a manuscript about Jewish mysticism and soul travel.

Poem: Fugitives

Wes Ward

I thought the Canyon swallowed my father
when he climbed, camera-backed, down
the jagged slope, sloping toward its guts.
Emerging minutes later, a sunbleached rock
in each hand, he panned the crest for anyone
who might see. “You can’t take these,”
he said. “They belong to the government.”
At ten years old, I assumed everything did.
And I was careful when I handled anything:
a grocery cart, a pencil at school,
the chipped paint on the monkey bars.
Everything belonged to them.
Now, when I see those canyon rocks,
the bookends in the den, Bukowski tilting
toward the Earth, I pretend we’re fugitives,
all of us, waiting for the blue lights, the sirens
to scream for their rocks, to lure us back
to the steeping cliffs, where we plummet.

Wes Ward holds a Master’s of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals, including North American Review, Sewanee Theological Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Wes teaches high school English in York, PA and lives with his wife, Karen, and his children, Ethan and Isley, in Newville, PA.

Poem: Dream of the Unambitious Mermaid

Cleveland Wall

My hopeless crush once asked me
“What do you dream of becoming?”
I had to pause to think it over.
I do a lot of dreaming; which,
I pondered, was my favorite?
“A mermaid in a deserted lake,”
I answered and was taken aback
when he burst out laughing.
“You can’t become a mermaid!”
he said, as if I didn’t know that.
But what is the point of dreaming
about the possible? That’s more like
planning, isn’t it? “Oh, you mean
what do I plan on becoming,”
I said. I had no idea. I reckoned
I’d tend bar till I saved up enough
to travel, then travel till I ran
out of money, then tend bar…
and my plan might have worked, too,
had I not fallen in love. Anyway,
after that, my crush did not believe
I wanted him or anyone.
He spun my mermaid wish
into a siren’s tale, where I’d lure
unwary boys into my waters
and drown them, fashion their bones
into furnishings for my underwater
lair. But I do not crave a bone
settee or taboret or chandelier,
however elegant. I just want to swim
in the moonlight filtering down
through lily pads and duck weed—
swim and sing and comb my long,
long and ever-tangled hair.

Cleveland is a poet and mail artist from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is a contributing editor for Poetry Writers in the Schools and hosts the poetry series for the New Bridge Group artists’ collective. Her work has appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Möbius Magazine, and online in New Purlieu Review.

Poem: Moss is Little Noticed

Charles Carr

Their limber, nimble
bodies and wooly hair
climb, clasp settling
on the surface of everything,
a velvety rootless succulence.
I imagine the prehistoric ancestor of many life forms,
a primitive holdout from an earlier time.
I figured it feeds on the life within the stones and rocks it colonizes.
The people who study moss remind us it is the last bastion
drinking the tragedy of a storm,
inhaling the toxic junk that belches from the waste that keeps us moving ahead.
Without it we would be trampled to death by our carbon footprints.
In photographs in Katrina’s wake
I saw it growing around Mardi Gras beads
outside a party store in Chalmette Louisiana,
digesting silk flowers on a living room floor in the Ninth Ward.
As I sink deeper into my own history
I can feel its slimy danger
on the rocks overlooking the Wissahickon Creek
letting go of the grip of a neighbor boy thirteen years old,
plunging into Devils Pool, drowned.
I wandered into the sounds of the keening,
walked to the casket lined in white silk,
a halo of flowers blazing
I was eight and I went to my first wake in his home.
I stood on the kneeler,
stared at him resting there in his first communion suit,
I prayed the Our Father aloud.
A woman patting my head ushered me through a makeshift curtain
between the rooms
to a table piled high with cold sandwiches and potato salad,
surrounded by red faced grown-ups grasping their glasses of spirits,
chattering away
cigar, cigarette smoke escaping through the open windows.

Charles is a native Philadelphian. In 2007 Charles was The Mad Poets Review First Prize Winner for his poem “Waiting To Come North”.  In 2009 Cradle Press of St. Louis published Charles’s first book of poetry: paradise, pennsylvania. Charles hosts readings for the Moonstone Arts Center Poetry Series in Philadelphia.  Charles next book, Haitian Mudpies and other Poems, is slated for publication in 2014.

Poem: the Philly in me

Jim Trainer

days and nights down the drag
like sunny dominoes that
fall to their black side
trash food&football
ATMs, cover bands
November looks no different
than July
I’m in a land
of too-good living
girls just saying
as you walk on by.
my rat gut and hardknock
I have to check ‘em
‘til I’m back in the rooms
and I can unfold
my misery there
infinitely more foolish
than I felt
smiling on the strip
&grinnin’ on the drag.

Dying poet, hack journalist, antiquated troubadour. Farewell to Armor, Jim Trainer’s full-length collection of poetry is out now through WragsInk and available on Amazon.com. Trainer currently lives in Austin, TX, where he serves as contributor, curator, editor and publisher of Going for the Throat, a semi-daily publication, at jimtrainer.wordpress.org.  Plato was right.

Poem: San Francisco 1978-81

Irene Fick

Adrift in my twenties, I dropped anchor
at a jelly bean house perched high on a slope,
stroked by fog, straddling salty bay bridges.
Stripped to my senses, I strolled into North Beach
cafés to hear Puccini crooned by paunchy old men
in spaghetti-stained aprons, sipped Pinot
on bare-bodied beaches, spent soulful afternoons
caressing Irish coffee at the Buena Vista,
flushed nights at fern bars downing drinks
under fuzzy lights.  I plunged on two wheels
through the Presidio, sucked in the sea mist,
gazed into open-air bars jammed with wiry, wired
men’s men.  I clung to the margins of cable cars,
leaned into the sultry curves of fabled streets. 
The City was on edge, caught between the disco beat,
and the hushed unease of a deadly new virus.
Yet, I lingered, hoping to land on solid ground.

Irene Fick’s nonfiction has been published in newspapers and magazines in Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa and Philadelphia.  Her poetry has been published in The Broadkill Review; Third Wednesday; No Place Like Here: An Anthology of Southern Delaware Poetry & Prose; and Adanna, a Journal for Women, About Women (forthcoming). She lives in Lewes, Delaware.

Poem: In the Freezer Section

Wes Ward

I would have remembered the grocery list
but the smell of the coffee spoon this morning,
just, well, the way it entered membranes
I didn’t know existed, the way it swirled with a sign
above its head that read “This is the best smell
a Tuesday has ever known” made me forget.
And yet I’m doing okay in the aisles
at Super Fresh, not as disjointed as you might expect,
listless and all. The cart is almost full
and the bananas, bread, and peaches are cradled
in the seat where a child might sit, a child
with clever eyes who’s buying “this, this”
in every aisle with the point of a small finger.
And I would buy him something in every aisle:
a stringed box of Animal Crackers,
a pack of fluorescent straws, a box of cereal
with a robot inside, an air horn.
But until I remember what it was you wanted,
I’ll be in the freezer section, writing
lines to a poem on twenty foggy doors.

Wes Ward holds a Master’s of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals, including North American Review, Sewanee Theological Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Wes teaches high school English in York, PA and lives with his wife, Karen, and his children, Ethan and Isley, in Newville, PA.