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.

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.