Kenning

Gabriel Johnson

Being from, for its own sake,
couldn’t satiate. Many
reasons for an ash-cloud.

Our fields half-plowed,
we woke to magma
on our eyes, five lashes
leapt across your back.

Plotted course along
the line of the son.
Fox paws before horse.

In time you will
change your coat,
wish-weld your words.
The heard forgotten,
what endures is telling.

[img_assist|nid=10088|title=Gabriel Johnson|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=250|height=322]

Gabriel Johnson is a Bay Area native currently finishing his MFA in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California. He lives in Oakland, where he was born, where the coffee is delicious, and the oak trees plentiful.

All Souls’

Emily Bludworth de Barrios

My husband lies beside me
            like archeological time.
(The word husband
shimmery as a new purchase,
still chafing a little in my mouth.)
I love you I love you
we say to one another.

Somewhere in another country
skulls have been spun from sugar.
I would I were an orange, a peach, a palm.
                      I lie on the bed, a living thing,
a raft on this side of time.
The afternoon a meadow.
I lie here like the tongue of a bell.
I lie here like a coin, new-minted.

Underground my grandfathers lie,
not even coins on their eyes.
                      But today I am alive,
and generations-to-come mill about
like crowds on the street.

I peer at the future ones
as from the window of a tall floor.
Like me they paddle lonely as an orphan.

I am a woman speaking
from the crumbly past–
words slipping out from the cake of time.

I want simple advice to give you.
I would seal myself in words.
I would be clear, and whole as bread.

[img_assist|nid=10085|title=Emily Bludworth de Barrios|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=300|height=225]

A native Houstonian, Emily Bludworth de Barrios is currently a student in the University of Massachusetts MFA program.  She also teaches writing at UMass, and serves as an editorial assistant for Factory Hollow Press.  Her poems have appeared in (or are forthcoming in) The Found Poetry Review, Emrys Journal, Belletrist Coterie, Goldfish, and Sight into Sound.

Weizenbock

Deborah Fries

for Kevin

You waited three days after the gray fits and groans
of the superstorm to leave, as if its broken trees
had paved a woody path to bring everyone home,
and once gathered, could build you a swinging bridge
to step out over the gorge, sure-footed and certain
it would hold. How does an arborist leave without
first inspecting the damage: shag of sycamores
coating sidewalks, maples chest-cracked open under
a naked moon, old oaks dropping limbs in the dark?

We knew this wild storm would arrive. Some of us expected
a flattening of the known world, footprint of sawdust
where our lives had been. Instead, cyclone of light and dark,
beech and vetch, family and family, banjoes and your beautiful
wife by a pinesweet campfire. Maybe the wind was confusing,
every loved thing whipped into the life you lived. Then quiet.
Six hours after you left I open a Weizenbock made from waters
of the Brandywine as if I could retrieve one laughing hour
from that hop devil, golden monkey night in Downingtown
we gathered to launch you into the eye — you standing green,
braced for the bending and rising of any bloodstorm.

Deborah Fries began writing poetry in earnest in 1994, when she moved to the Delaware Valley from the Midwest. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq – work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of Various Modes of Departure (Kore Press, 2004) and anticipates publication of a second book of poetry, The Bright Field of Everything, in 2013.

Lady Sidewalk

Eileen Moeller

[img_assist|nid=10084|title=Eileen Moeller|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=162|height=209]wears a red

                                mud coat

 

festooned with

                                guttural skulls

                                                and rusty mice.

 

Her daddy made it for her.

Her daddy made it!

Her daddy sewed it with his tiny hands

and frog shuttered needles.

 

Her hair is a bulky tumor

on the back of her head

                that hasn’t been combed in years.

 

She says it’s

                                  someone following her –

                                                  an adversarial eavesdrop

                                                                  she couldn’t forget about.

 

Until a policeman gave her,

a policeman handed it right over!

Gives her this beautiful hat out of nowhere,

says it’s made of nail holes.

Where he got it, she don’t know,

 

She wears it askew

                                as she dances in yipping green

                                                bramble shoes through

                                                                the blindness of June as it turns to night.

 

 

Lady Sidewalk leans back on a park bench

                                and reaches up with both hands

                                                to pull the star blanket down around her.

 

Her sleep is yellow stained,

                                knotted like rope, a dream

                                                heaving toward itself, a school a

                                                                flounders that won’t be thrown back.

 

She’ll mutter till dawn,

                                                her words cut flowers bending away

                                                                from one of them pretty blue bottles,

                                                                                that used to hold Milk of Magnesia

 

Her laughter at this, is hard and cold as

                                                a soot covered snow pile

                                                                hanging on after the end of winter.

 

Lady Sidewalk does not

                                                burn off

the way the dew does.

Days, she haunts our eyes.

 

Eileen Moeller lives in center city Philadelphia, PA. She has poems in Paterson Literary Review, SugarMule, Ars Medica, and forthcoming in Schuykill Valley Review. Access her blog: And So I Sing at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com/

 

Field Trip To The Underworld

Hayden Saunier

I follow single file the awkward girl
before me down damp wooden walkways dimly lit
with scalloped strings of incandescent light bulbs

as a guide in cats-eye glasses blandly clarifies
the difference between stalactite and stalagmite,

making this sixth grade, Endless Caverns,
the awful year I couldn’t stop myself from staring at
boys’ crotches. At least it’s dark, at least

those agates shaped like fried eggs make my oddness
almost safe. I keep walking. From this day on

I’ll picture every story of the underworld
in caves like this: Persephone, pale as a shoot,
on a throne between stone curtains, Orpheus

on the walkway where it rises, curves toward
the gift shop, Odysseus weeping in the great room

with his dead. Room after room of emptiness
lies underneath- great vaulted absences, small vacancies
connected by odd passageways, tight turns-

where what’s been washed away
gives way to what’s been washed away,

each loss communicating to the next.
All there in figured residue, drip, drip of years:
the intricate architecture of what’s gone.

[img_assist|nid=10086|title=Hayden Saunier|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=250|height=141]

 

Hayden Saunier is the author of the poetry collection, Tips for Domestic Travel. Her work has been published widely and was awarded both the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Rattle Poetry Prize in 2011. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

 

Honorable Mention: The American Treadmill

Debora Gossett Rivers

TV on all night woke me up this morning
The clock radio is a bird with no song that just tells the time
I don’t move until the 4th time weatherman announces the forecast
Hoping it snows north and west of the city
Because I-C-E has no respect for my SUV
The temptation of calling out sick plays like a sweet song
And I want to sing every word out loud
Slowly I scrape myself off the sheets
Wake up the children singing a happy little wake up song
Saying hello to the sunny sun
Ironing white school blouses
Cooking bacon grits and eggs
Chasing groomed dressed and fed offspring out of the house
To catch the big yellow school bus
To learn to live the American way
To chase the American dream
Looking up in the glass ceiling
Sitting on the side of the tub
Sitting and thinking
Looking at my toes
A muscle twitch away from going back to bed
Cleaned up groomed up dressed up
Running into myself coming and going
Turned off every electric appliance
Spouse and I leave the house
Get in the car
For the five minute commute to work
Singing songs in prayer before I enter
The God-forsaken den of despair called the office
My prayers for natural, man-made office disasters
Went unanswered again
Serving occupational penance for being a
Short, fat, bald, white overseer on a Mississippi cotton plantation
In a prior life
At my desk I sit
Listening to my voice mail
I’m tired of hearing the cries of the
The dependent and the expectant
The needy and the greedy
Enduring the criticism of the powers that be
Serving at the pleasure of the Governor
The whims of the politicians
On the strength of the unions
Issuing free cash and food stamps
Running faster to stay in place
Working hard to keep myself in gas and pantyhose
Plotting and planning for a way out
To prove the naysayer’s wrong
That my dreams are stronger
Because I know that there is a better world
Just waiting for me to get there
Praying for six months of jury duty
Going on safari in the urban jungle
To hunt and kill my lunch
Washed it down with fruit punch
Waiting for a phone call
To bring news of afternoon deliverance
Absolution and ascension
Ambition filed away in a manila folder
Locked in a drawer waiting for retirement
Youth replaced by strained eyes and gray hairs
Too young to retire too old to quit and start anew
Stuck in a holding pattern
At quitting time
I ran out of the building like I was
Being chased by Satan
To start my second job
Picked up the children from supervised playtime
Listening to a litany of juvenile drama and angst
Evening errands and supermarket runs
Before we get home
Checking the homework of straight A students
Checking out the evening news to hear about the world run amuck
Sitting down to a quick-cooked meal
Holding court in the dining room
Surveying all that I claim on my tax returns
Doing the dishes
Downshifting and channel surfing until I find myself lost in a
Made for TV movie
Looking for happy endings that seem to only happen
To white women
Falling asleep to TV lullabies
Drifting into the world of slumber and dreams
Looking for the lamppost on the corner
To show me the way
Until the TV alarm wakes me up again
To start a new day

[img_assist|nid=10069|title=Debora Gossett Rivers|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=300|height=259]

Debora Gossett Rivers is a Philadelphia native and the author of “The Working Mind of a Working Woman”. She completed her 2nd book of poetry titled “Running Into Myself Coming and Going, released in 2010. Created MALL SCIENCE proram for girls ages 9+ in 2008.  She is a 1981 graduate of Simon Gratz High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1985 from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been an Income Maintenance Caseworker with the Department of Public Welfare in Philadelphia since 1988. She is married and has two children. 

 

Moments after a Solar Flare Scrambled the Dish on my Trailer

Paul Weidknecht

"You said this piece has been in your family since the early 1950s, when
your mother purchased it at an estate sale. Correct? Well, the Philadelphia
Chippendale side chair was a prime example of true artisan craftsmanship in
colonial America from about the mid-1750s to just after the Revolution, as
some of the finest cabinetmakers in the world resided in Philadelphia
during this period. The rocaille shell, acanthus leaves, and cabriole legs
with claw-and-ball feet were hallmarks of this style.

"However, this is not a Philadelphia chair. You have the Hoboken stool.
This was a poorly-conceived furnishing that no doubt would have been an
embarrassment to someone had that person possessed any sense of taste. Note
the lack of technical proficiency in the assembly, as well as, the absence
of any artful lines. Frankly, cordwood has more value. Had this been a
Philadelphia chair, I would expect it-in excellent condition and with no
restoration-to bring up to $35,000 at auction, certainly enough to have
someone well on the way to a gently-used double wide and a new satellite
dish. Your mother chose poorly, but I appreciate your bringing it to the
show so our viewers might know what to avoid when browsing those
treacherous junk sales. Thank you so much."

 

 

Paul Weidknecht’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rosebud, Shenandoah, The Los Angeles Review, Pisgah Review, The Comstock Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Yale Anglers’ Journal and Outdoor Life, among others.  He has been awarded a scholarship to The Norman Mailer Writers Colony and is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. For more, please visit: www.paulweidknecht.com.

The Drunkest Three-Year-Old in the Room

Amanda Erin Stopa

Here comes a school of them right now-
Just look at em! They are sooo wasted
they have to be strung along on a guide rope,
one walking like Frankenstein, another like he’s on Broadway.
These addicts can’t take two steps in the same direction without
falling all over the place. And it’s only noon.
And that one’s wearing a tutu, on a Monday.
I’m going to guess she’s coming off a weekend long bender;
looking mighty sloppy. And look-
over by that fountain, those two kids are so hammered-
running, trying to climb over each other up the backside
of a copper goat. But oh, it looks like their little drunk girlfriend
is a bit of a downer, possibly cross faded the way she’s kicking around
the grass, yelling at her Velcro shoes. Loose cannon.
But the drunk I love most is the one who is finding his legs
for the first time. Unashamed at how he wobbles, arms reaching
towards his intention, the blonde woman cooing through
picket fence teeth, he takes his first steps to sobriety.

Amanda Stopa lives in Philadelphia, although she is not from there, and attends a Masters Program at Rutgers University.

Under the El Tracks

Leonard Kress

What I so clearly remember
From the years we lived beneath the el tracks,
Or just blocks from them, were the freezing
Waits for the train and the hopelessly long
Walks through the neighborhoods-Harrowgate,
Torresdale, Fishtown, the bums and crosswalk prophets

We’d encounter. Always the same: what will it profit
A man, if he gains the whole world? I remembered
Meeting one preaching outside the shut gate
Of a half-demolished art-deco theatre. He tracked
Our arrival, our baby strolled deep in her long
Afternoon nap, questioned our wisdom-letting her freeze

Like this. My wife with her camera busily freezing
The twisted steel beams, drooping finials, scenes a prophet
Might relish, beads of gilt debris melted in the long
History of midnight fires, crack, and rats. What we won’t remember
In the rush to rebuild. This was the place beneath the tracks
Where prostitutes sheltered all winter, their gate-

Way to cruising cars, one by one, with that skirt-hiking gait,
Raising 5 or 10 fingers, like figures in an ancient Chaldean frieze.
Everyone takes them in: walkers, drivers, passengers on track-
Less trolleys-you might wonder if they’re the harlots the prophet
Ezekiel railed against: Oholah and Oholibah as they remember
Their Egyptian lovers, whose members were as long

As those of horses, those sisters who continued to long
For the orgies of their youth, before the city shut its gate
To them. Officers with girded loins remembered
Even in exile, even in the heat of this deep freeze.
They crowd around, cooing over the baby-the prophet
Isn’t paying attention,-losing track

Of time and money to be made under the El tracks.
It seems they’ve been doing this for so long
You’d think they’d learn by now. Forget the prophet
Ezekiel’s rant, listen to Isaiah instead. Enter the gates
Of the city. Take your harps and sweet songs. Don’t freeze.
Sing that you may be remembered
Leonard Kress has recent work (poetry and fiction) in Barn Owl Review, Passages North, Harvard Review, New Orleans Review, River Styx, Atticus Review, and Philadelphia Stories. Most recent poetry collections are Braids & Other Sestinas, The Orpheus Complex, and Living in the Candy Store. He lived in Philadelphia for 45 years before having to relocate to the Midwest. He currently teaches philosophy, religion, and creative writing at Owens College in Ohio.

Who’s the Boss

Margot Douaihy

All journeys start by leaving, that’s what Tony must have said
to Sam, packing the van, closing the door, the way epics begin.

Don’t look back. In stations of the cross, you move on.
It’s time to go, he smiles, pulls the key from his ripped jeans,

muscle line in his arms, like a sea wall
meeting sand on a Brooklyn beach

too polluted to swim. There’s an open road and a road that’s hidden,
brand new life around the bend
. A theme song’s being sung, just for them.

He’s not sure who sings it, but he knows a thing or two: boxing, cooking,
secret blend of wind and lip to make a whistle. He’ll teach Samantha

to dance-steps only the old folks know. She’ll need to learn
how to speak Connecticut, make friends, shake off headaches

after crying. He’ll vacuum curtains upright, iron a sandwich for uptight
Angeler. Strange how it makes him feel like a man. Isn’t every departure

a return to who we want to be? He’d never admit
he is scared, he might not even know what to call it.

All that matters: they’re together, going somewhere in their beat-up van,
hands taking flight out the windows, future as go as the green light ahead.

Margot Douaihy has taught at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, and received her Masters from the University of London,Goldsmiths. Her chapbook "I Would Ruby If I Could" is forthcoming from Factory Hollow Press.