You’ve Been Dreaming about Streetlamps Again

Jin Cordaro

Before the same strange house,
many nights in a row.
And a light begins to stir in your belly that says
you were on this street before, but
they called it by another name.
It shows you the turned up stone where
you once fell and your blood
left a small horseshoe of a stain,
and the hundreds of people
who have lived in that house, and passed
over the front walk so many times
the stones became smooth.
And from each of their bellies,
there’s a burning, soft glow too, that calls
to the light in your belly.
Calls it by name.  They discuss you,
how those streetlamps are burning for you.

Jin Cordaro received her MFA in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming inFaultline, Sugar House Review, Main Street Rag, Flywheel Magazine, US1 Worksheets, and Cider Press Review.  Her work also appears in the anthology “Challenges for the Delusional.”  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the recipient of the 2009 Editor’s Prize from Apple Valley Review.  Born in the suburbs of Detroit, Cordaro now resides in central New Jersey with her husband and twin daughters.

September 5, 1957

Peter Krok

Jack, I can see you on that New York corner waiting
For the Times, knowing a review was coming out,
knowing something good might happen.

In that classic photo, you stand by the corner
window, a Lucky Strike dangling from your lips,
an Orpheus in a black leather jacket.

That night you’d never forget. Going out at dusk
you got an early copy of the Times. The next day
On the Road would be on the streets and highways.

You’d be celebrated as the beat. Who was to know
how your life would change? Who could understand
it all? Who could imagine what would come?

You drove across America,
always on the move and always moving on,
searching for wherever that somewhere never was.


Peter Krok, the editor of Schuylkill Valley Journal, serves as humanities director of the Manayunk  Roxborough Art Center where he has coordinated a literary series since 1990. Because of his identification with row house Philadelphia, he is often referred to as “the red brick poet.”  His poem “10 PM At a Philadelphia Recreation Center” was included in Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. His book, Looking For An Eye, was published by Foothills Press.

Confluence

Sean Christopher Hughes

After a postcard of van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles”
If, in some night, I saw beyond
The newest moon,
And my thoughts would carry me on
To where un-bounding time
Once ran for us, but soon ran past-
I’d turn up the postcard I almost sent
To show you van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles,
And I’d set to stare
At the slats of wave made fast
Where the floor was a pitch to climb or descend,
If there were time to draw us in
And try to be at rest in that room,
In its waited way
That dangles all the feet
Above the flooding of the ground,
Leaving the bed un-touched and dry:
But the looking glass over the basin-
It must be broken, as it’s blank. Or
This room really has no door leading on from any hall,
But rather, in plan, has only the fourth and lunar wall.
And yet now, from here, we both of us glare-
Without a shadow to chase.
And time-pricked in this
-Can only desire for more of itself
To sprinkle now, like a brief thread
Drawn all ways through a needles eye.


Sean became a poet at Haverford College, the best of Philadelphia’s suburban Quaker schools.  He currently reads and writes at “Rutgers…the State University of New Jersey.”  He shares his name with a boxer, a comedian, and an alleged IRA member; we apologize for any confusion this has caused.

 

Bundle of White Flowers

Roy W. Smith
Every time I see a bundle of white flowers
I think of my mom on hospital bedsheets
borrowing her last lungs of air. Before
passing it on, sharing it with the rest of us
as a cooling wind makes her way through
bamboo. My sisters and brother sat
arrayed in a semicircle, waiting all night for
her to die. I had to leave. Why was I in such
a rush? My mom was unconscious as
I leaned in and whispered, “See ya later,”
a nervous laugh caught a wave around the
room and I left and it was such a hot June
evening outside. My mother was so small
and frail, shrinking as the hours crawled
into closets. Yesterday my heart stopped
and started and stopped for a few beats.
I stood there with no heartbeat and it was
kind of annoying because I was busy and
had work to do and I asked mom if she had
lent me some air from Mount Fuji, if she
could squeeze her hand around this
reluctant thing in my ribs or send an errant
spark from New Jersey, whatever the
burning did not consume.

Roy Word Smith. Lives in Bucks county, loves to visit Philadelphia every chance he gets. He finds poems and stories growing out of sidewalk cracks and purring cats. He doesn’t have much education but like Einstein, feels imagination is more important than knowledge.

When Harry Left the Trees

Fereshteh Sholevar

Harry’s wife stopped me and started to
say things, so I listened.
“You know Harry never had it easy,
especially in 1964.
He didn’t want to fight,
or kill anyone for that matter.
I married him without a ring and a wedding dress.
All he did at our wedding night
was to stare at his own face in the mirror.
Harry told me that after the war
he still continued to hide out
and called it force of habit.
He used to sleep under the bridges,
in farms, and stole chickens and corn.
Sometimes on hot nights he played dead
and slept in morgues to keep cool.
He said one time he even refused the open
legs of a prostitute cause he had forgotten
how to make love. He said he made paper birds
and whistled their tunes to blow his fears away.
He had many interrupted sleeps, hearing death
screaming into his ears.”

 


Fereshteh Sholevar was born in Tehran where she studied literature and foreign languages. She received her Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Rosemont College. Fereshteh has published six books of poetry, two of which are bilingual: And the Blue Continues in English and Spanish, and Walking with the Moon in English and German. Her Name Was Samira, a novel, was published by Infinity Publishing in 2012.  She won the Editor’s Choice award  from Philadelphia Poets in 2011.

Is It Better to Sleep

Luke Bauerlein

I am trying, I am trying
to be right with my mind again.
for what else should I be trying
and to what end
when all the night around me
rises to my room
like the waters of a lake?
I want to make the call
the nightblind hours
refuse to make
and patiently distill-
the sky mercurial,
slick as a kill.
Again, the dead have come full soon
to shed themselves
thin as a moon.
Thin as the horizon’s
cold, blue arc.
Every season
is their season.
Every evening, their mark.

 


Luke Bauerlein’s work has previously appeared in the NY Times, Mid-America Poetry Review, Shot Glass Journal, and elsewhere. He currently lives in West Philadelphia, and writes songs and performs with the band, The Late Greats.

Returning Home from the Fertility Clinic

Michael Phillips

She destroyed the garden in her good pants—

Cherry tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and lettuce—

Using a spade, rake, and hoe.

Using her bare hands.

She trampled ordered rows, snapped stalks,

Raked it all under, and tamped the ground flat.

She was methodic. In possession of herself.

How could I stop her?

She had to get back at her body.

She had to get back at the earth.

After, she sat down in the dirt

And rubbed her raw hands.


Michael Phillips has published short stories and poems in several journals, including Pebble Lake Review, River Walk Journal, Dark Skies Magazine, and The Monongahela Review (Forthcoming). He lives with his wife in Downingtown, PA, and works as an editor for a nonprofit healthcare research institute.

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
until
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.