And I Call Myself Recovery Girl

Laurie Arnold

after “Walk” by Cornelius Eady

I want to buy a forest that will speak

in calm sentences about the aftermath.


What it’s like standing deep in hard

black soil, and Springtime, after,


cold quiet frozen months snowed in, a tiny room, the window

is all—


It’s late I think, for recovery; these frostbitten

hands and toes start tingling with stranded blood


each Spring, they unfreeze and unfold,

their secret micro movements,


and the narrow shoot,


the leaves, the leaves, I say to myself,


hard to believe

and then—

they open.


Clear cut, then chemicals, clever

heavy water rushes downhill, floods any

second to kill root,

fool the fragile,


but a crisis line, a voice,

takes her time with me, waiting,

her emails, counselors, call backs,


a forest hut, something shining—

the fire, always a fire,

where all the downed wood rings,


hold your head high,


they chant in circular meditation,

live, live, live, they live

me alive, again,

for now,

the cascade of long branches,

of arms feeling a feathery new world

in daily treacherous conditions

in hills of frozen



Laurie Arnold-McMillan is a therapeutic writing facilitator in Pittsburgh who uses the magic of poetry to inspire people to get in touch with meaningful material that can alter the course of their life story. She is also a nurse and gardener and enjoys a vital literary community in Pittsburgh.

To A Miscarried Brother

Grant Clauser

It’s hard to say what we’ve missed
in these years, you not even
solid enough to be a memory
or maybe not even a brother,
but simply an absence,
like a promise broken
or an approaching front
that builds but doesn’t fall
so its cold can’t kiss
your waiting face,
yet you were there
just in time to point a finger
at our mother’s cancer,
to run into the burning building
for her, selfless lamb.
Still you’re always here,
a cloud above the roof
you move and shift your shape
like horizons in a changing sky
sometimes threatening storms
that rattle windows
and other times only leaving
shadows where sunlight
should have settled.


The Field

Caren Lee Brenman

I kept my father’s ashes in a drawer
where I kept scarves, belts and Xanax.
When it was time
the last tangible weight of proof
was carried
on to his high school football field
he had never returned to
until now.
His white ash spilled
across the green
glinting like bone diamonds.

Caren Lee Brenman writes poetry and short stories. Her work has recently appeared in Contemporary American Voices and Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream. She moved from New York City to Philadelphia 23 years ago and hasn’t looked back.

On a White Plate

Elizabeth Quigley

Before me lies a whole crow
so deeply black, the sun accentuates
the green blue sheen of feathered head,
the dulled shine of once darting eyes.
It is not cooked. No spice hides
the raw, dank taste.
I shall eat it all,
eyes averted
from the pooled dark blood.

Born October, 1941 in Philadelphia, Pa., Elizabeth Quigley is a member of Center City Poets. Her poems have appeared in The Fox Chase Review. As a member of Center City Poets, she has read at Three Sisters Café in Fox Chase and at Blue Moon in Center City.

Maybe my city is a jaguar

Sierra Eckert

Inside the New Vegetarian restaurant there are New Vegetarians
congregating to sing the praises of five different kinds of pumpkin
or cherry pinot noir that tastes – mmmmm yes -while out by the alley

a banjo troupe from Baton Rouge makes the blues, one girl on a washboard
fingers like jaguars. Another squats, firm hands on the bowstring, plays
the water trough upturned like a lover. Her legs encircle that galvanized metal,

leaning hard against the brick of the New Vegetarian. She twangs and whoops
and mmmmm yes mixes with the winebreath from the crowd as The Jaguars play
faster now as spiced faces loiter, sway and sour under the platinum sky and

one woman, stringy grey hair, gathers up her fringed skirt, she skitters a jig,
with halter top slipping revealing gleaming that cascade of white, flesh
(and her hips like your mother’s). Some call her a cat. The band keeps playing.

You watch as the street, with its dingy look, gnaws on itself in the darkness.
And still, the woman, muttering "jaguar," and meaning the sensation
of a mouth cracking marrow or that near-suffocation.

Sierra Eckert is studying English literature and creative writing at Swarthmore College. Her poems have appeared in The Night Café and Small Craft Warnings. She has had three plays produced, and her original play, Dust of Babylon, was performed in the Washington DC Capital Fringe Festival July 2009.

Excerpt from Undeliverables: Prose poem postcards

Jacob A Bennett

Postcard unto a glint of lightspeed

Little pinprick, little leaklight: so much dissipates in the wake; so much accumulates in a delay. A wink become a nova become just another patch of darkness. The wind was up a little today and I was watching a flake of mica vibrate, a loose tooth-filling aching to free from igneous pebble, and its little dance was brighter than the sun – if reflected, if minuscule – and I was watching a single iridescent insect wing flashing rainbows, veined and brittle, a little plastic smudge of oil – the greedy vestiges of little black bulges that spin webs and crystals and leave them.

Jacob A. Bennett
lives and works in Philadelphia, where he teaches rhetoric, poetry, and
literature. Links to CV, other poems, and various well-intentioned screeds
published at:

The Frost Line

Scott Thomas

This morning she was a meadow in frost.
I came from woods to find the field overwritten.
The small, faceless berries were fringed in white hair,
The honeysuckle spiked with cold pickers.
I walked across quickly, the sun balanced on my shoulder.
I slipped into the far woods.
On my return just thirty minutes later,
The frost line had receded,
The field restored to goldenrod and asters.
I wonder:
Were they true,
The words the field said to me
After the dawn,
But before the high sun
Rolled back the frost?
Scott Thomas has a B.A. in Literature from Bard College, a M.S. in
Library Science from Columbia University, and a M.A. in English from the
University of Scranton and is currently employed as a librarian;
specifically, Head of Information Technologies & Technical Services
at the Scranton Public Library in Scranton, PA. He lives in Dunmore, PA
with his wife Christina and his son Ethan. His poems have appeared in
Mankato Poetry Review, The Kentucky Poetry Review, Sulphur River
Literary Review, and other journals.

Oxford Circle Summer

Kathleen Shaw

The summer before you moved away
we played baseball til the lights came on
we sold ice water at the bus stop
and we made up our own language.

We played baseball til the lights came on
my knees were covered with scabs
and we made up our own language
it was too far to walk to the pool.

My knees were covered with scabs
and your mom hid her beer in a drawer
it was too far to walk to the pool
one day it was a hundred and one.

And your mom hid her beer in a drawer
one day it was a hundred and one
we sold ice water at the bus stop
the summer before you moved away.

Kathleen Shaw grew up in Northeast Philly during the 1960s. For twenty years, she has taught English at Montgomery County Community College in Pottstown.

Mother of Darkness

Donna Wolf-Palacio

She is a wise old woman
with precise hands.
She is clever and slow.
She has all the time.

She is a wise old woman
who can hear perfectly.
She waits for me in a calmness
I can only imagine when I’m ill.
Then I hear her whispering.
She has a low whisper like branches.

She’s also a little crazy.
She takes off her shirt
in the lobby of the Time-Life building
and almost gets arrested.
She runs across rooftops on Forty-Fifth street,
spotting transvestites and pimps.
She hangs on the poles with them,
strutting in a short dress.

She takes showers and still smells
under the arms. She shaves
in the summer, wears flowered shifts,
and has her picture taken
with uptight young men who are skinny
and afraid of women.

And she gives out her number to people
she doesn’t know and makes them lose it,
and when they go to call her,
they feel secretly relieved.

She’s matchless on a pool table,
has every one of her teeth.
She’ll laugh at anyone’s jokes
even when they put their faces
up close to hers and smell of scotch.

She will accommodate.
Yes, she will accommodate.
She will slide around the kitchen
in slippers and not ever rattle
a pan, and you won’t hear the radio
station she plays, the morning talk shows,
because she plays them so low, they sound
like your own breath, in sleep.
Donna Wolf-Palacio’s recent book of poetry, What I Don’t Know, was published by Finishing Line Press. She received an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She has published and taught in Philadelphia and New York.

Toast On A Summer Afternoon

Eileen M. D’Angelo

For Louis McKee

I ordered a Guinness and thought of you,
on the deck of The Inn at Jim Thorpe. It is August,
and the wind sighs a hint of fall. The scent of sage
drifts down the mountains and to the stone mansions,
to the Switch Back Railroad on the hill.

Here in Mahoning Valley at the bottom of a bowl of trees,
Sunday falls gently on my shoulders like late summer light,
here where the Mauch Chunk Creek secretly runs
below the streets, rushing all the way to the Lehigh River.

Somewhere in the woods I know the first curled leaf
is beginning to change. It has taken every ray of white sun it can,
and will take no more: it has held on for this very afternoon.
When autumn’s first chill steals down the valley, it will let go.

The afternoon light shifts on the wooden floor of the pub,
where men walked a hundred years ago, men with dark hair
and light eyes like yours, hearts burning hope
in a new land, hands full of black diamonds, lungs full of coal dust.

Maybe your ancestors and mine, these mining Molly Maguires,
their very lives owned by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal
& Iron Company. Innocents hanged for crimes invented by rich men,
lies spun to hold Irish mineworkers, to chain them to the land.

Their spirits haunt the old stone jail: Walk now, where their bodies
once swung before a crowd. Strange: the sound of bagpipes on the air.
Whispering voices rise from the dark earth, cry out from dungeon cells,
from collapsed tunnels far below. Their scattered bones
ache between coal veins and underground streams.

Today, I raise my glass to all of them. To you.
The Guinness is dark and strong. The froth soft upon my lips.
Sunlight warms my pale cheek, as the old clock tower,
in the center of town, tolls the hour.

Eileen M. D’Angelo, Editor of the Mad Poets Review,
has poetry and book reviews published, or forthcoming in, Rattle: Poetry for
the 21st Century, Manhattan Poetry Review, Wild River Review, Paterson Literary
Review, Drexel Online Journal, One Trick Pony, The Aurealean, HiNgE,
Philadelphia Poets, and others.