Bazooka Ways

George Bishop

One whiff of an open pack of baseball cards and I was hooked,
never to return to punks, pixie sticks and sen-sen. Mantle, Mays, God

they were good. A bubble was broken, the idea something was worth
saving had arrived, a sure sign the end had begun. I swallowed

my last wad of bazooka when I entered high school, tobacco burning
off the lingering scent of powder. I opened a bar in my mind, something

about the head of a beer first thing in the morning making everything
seem possible, repeating itself into promises only the night believes.

Fragrance has fathered more of my failures than I can count, other senses
somewhere in the stands. The complexity of sight and limits to touch were

no match. I learned to hear what I wanted to hear, if I could smell it
I could taste it. Now, almost sixty, what’s in the air comes and goes,

the breath of visitors to some famous landmark I erected myself—Home
of someone you never heard of
and who never heard of you.

George Bishop’s
latest work appears in NewPlains Review & Border Crossing. New work will be
included in Melusine and The Penwood Review. Bishop is the author of four
chapbooks, most recently "Old Machinery" from Aldrich Publishing. He attended
Rutgers University and now lives and writes in Kissimmee, Florida.


Scott Thomas

Memory is a cat.
It rarely does what it is told to do.
We can say, "Be a good Memory
And fetch past days
In unblemished detail
So I can feel the wind as it felt then,
See the morning light as it shone then,"
But Memory is not a dog.
It will not listen.

The Past is a bird
With see-through skin,
Entrails of sky and sun.
Memory pounces.
Feathers fly.
The Past
Escapes being mashed,
But there is some damage.
Nervous and disoriented,
Its song is fractured
And so a joyful time,
The Thruway south of Albany,
Your wife of 24 hours asleep
In the passenger seat,
Appears without low fuel
Or squinting in the sun.
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.

Paper Wings

Kathryn A. Kopple

Icarus, sometimes I think we got it all wrong.
You weren’t the son of Titans, but the kid
in the back of the class, orphan to a
bright burning star,sticking your paper
wings together with glue
and chewing gum.
Kathryn A. Kopple is a translator of Latin American poetry and prose. Her translations have appeared in numerous reviews and anthologies. She has also published original work in Danse Macabre, The Hummingbird Review, and 322 Review. She has a poem titled "Sloth" forthcoming in The Threepenny Review. She lives and writes with her family in Philadelphia.

Bread, Milk

Jeanne Obbard

Picture beauty:
it’s not what you think,
but a day like this one:
round, tarnished

with the sadness
that just is.
Just is and no need to fix it.

Hard to accept,
how that isn’t cause for grief,

or reason to ignore dandelions
flourishing in a margin of sun
or fail to linger over
the existential plight
of clothespins on an empty line.

You may suspect at times
that this is all a shirt with three sleeves,
and contort yourself,
thinking there’s some obstacle between you and you.

The trick is just to wait
for life to spend you on the sly,
like a foreign penny
at the corner store
on something necessary.
Jeanne Obbard received a Leeway Award for Emerging Artists in 2001. Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Anderbo, and the anthology Prompted.

Numbers: 1965

Kathleen Shaw

Castor Avenue was Jewish then
delis, yarmulkes,
old bearded men, two by two
arguing in Yiddish
bearing wrinkled gray suits
and soiled white shirts
to the cleaners where I worked
in my Catholic school uniform.
Wives in faded housedresses bore
pin-striped pants and cigar-scented
vests. And sometimes
forearms tattooed with
black numbers would slide
heavy woolen overcoats
across the formica counter, but
those numbers meant no more
to me than the tiny black numbers
on tags I pinned to their garments.
Kathleen Shaw grew up in Northeast Philly during the 1960s. For twenty years,
she has taught English at Montgomery County Community College in Pottstown.

The Poet on the Bus

Steve Burke

Cake-walking down the sidewalk, a zaftig young woman
witnessing to whatever lyric is surging through her headphones,
carrying her away beside Broad Street, its flow of sinfulness.
Music is a manifestation of something that can be believed in.
Revelation is something that’s hard to keep to yourself. She is filled.
Maybe she is singing, but I’ve been deafened by glass
and she blinded by early-morning ecstasy – her left hand raised
and pulled back, raised again, the fingers of that hand opening
then closing as if breathing, or as if stretched up to a closet shelf,
grasping for something unseen, something lost, something that
belongs to her.
Steve Burke lives in the Mt Airy section of the city with wife Giselle & daughter Mariah; has worked as a labor & delivery nurse for many years; has been wiriting poetry much longer than that; and has been published in PBQ, Schuykill Valley Journal, Apiary, Mad Poets Review.

Excerpt from Report from the road to eudamonia

Jacob A. Bennett

Postcard unto a sense of tribelessness

But nothing so stable as form-designated hue (especially which is no
hue at all) will account for the sudden ruddiness, china-blue and, a few
months each year, light-wheat-toast. Not to mention constellated with
the fat moles of my father’s side. And something of Albion in me, and
Westphalia, and a French monarch, and a Russian princess. There is
heritage to trace, per se, and leads from the fleshy part of the Michigan
mitten back East to where my mother’s people maybe actually thought
they’d discovered something New, and back again across the months
of the Atlantic, beyond the Channel deep into the Continent, to where
Caesar’s conquests once convinced bellicose and patriotic tribes to shake
hands and not hatchets. But the brittle tree I stenciled in Ms. Rae’s fourth-
grade class is diffuse, and describes not a uniform fondue but a stew of
only partially assimilated ante-states and when I am still I stand in the
middle of them all, no allegiance to speak of, no religion or tongue or
flag to bind me, a picture brought to focus by chance alignment of many
reckless stars and libidos.

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 neighbors, from Russia with love

Julia Perch

i wasn’t allowed to go in their house.
but my mom let me play in the yard
with their daughter.
Anastasya was my age and once,
she snuck me in.
her basement looked like mine
but in reverse,
like some alternate universe,
fun-house mirror.
it was dingier though,
and smelled like mildew.
they had a cat named Stinky
who once
climbed up our magnolia tree.
my dad cajoled him down.
Stinky seemed unwilling to return
to his owners:
he squirmed in revolt as we handed him back
to our stern Russian neighbor.
i don’t remember what he looked like.
the neighbor man, that is.
the cat was a Calico.
the Russian neighbors had chickens, once.
they plodded around in a small gated area of their backyard.
and one day,
the Russian man hung up dead fish on the clothing line,
like soaking wet pillowcases.
Ruth, the Jewish old woman next door,
knocked on their door and said,
"the chickens and the dead fish? we don’t do that here in America."
Julia Perch is an editorial assistant by day, writer by night, and a literary geek at all times. She earned her B.A. in English from Drexel University, and currently lives and works in West Philly.

Light Against the Dark of the Café Windows

Steve Burke

In the opposite corner – across the empty tables – is, I think,
Max, the young neighbor-man who when he was about two,
at our first block party after moving in, toddled away, and
was found at street’s end, where yellow tape kept traffic
from turning, by then-teenage Sherwood, dead six weeks after
arriving in Iraq, some five years past. Max is sitting on a bench
leaning over his laptop, maybe writing of why he ran away,
or of hearing adults recount it. Or maybe explaining why
Sherwood died. Explaining then deleting it. Behind the counter
barista Layney washes the evening cups and saucers in the steel sink;
night snug as the water on her forearms about this old brick station,
and no explanation, no explanation for anything at all.

Steve Burke lives in the Mt Airy section of the city with wife Giselle & daughter Mariah, has worked as a labor & delivery nurse for many years, has been writing poetry much longer than that, and has been published in PBQ, Schuykill Valley Journal, Apiary, Mad Poets Review.

Clip of Norm Snead Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles

Brian Heston

Dad, he truly was a bum, a defenses’ dream, a knock-kneed,
cockeyed excuse for a quarterback. Just as you said,

those occasions when we sat and talked-you just back
from a twelve hour shift at Jeffery and Manz, me getting

ready to go out and run the streets with punks up to
no good, searching for something, anything to make

the future necessary. Snead, the bane of your twenties,
mocking your unsinkable faith in the American Dream.

Fleet as cinder block in the pocket, crushed every time
he threw one of his ducks, always managing to get back

to his feet, eyes bugging and jersey bloodied, ready
to begin again. "If the poor bastard had ever played for

someone who cared, he’d probably had been a hall of
famer," you’d say. So how’d you do it? Five squawking kids,

another on the way, the 70s economy an oozing wound.
Days spent in oven heat, walking up and down Chestnut

and Walnut in one of your gaudy, almost out of style suits,
begging for work from big mahoffs sitting at high desks

with shiny nameplates, all those "yous’" and "ain’ts"
blaring from your bullhorn mouth. Week after week like

this: light and gas unpaid, meals of cornflakes and fried
baloney, winter stalking in the air. I remember none of it,

the baby you had to hold your ears against, screaming you
awake whenever you managed to sleep. Then there was

Snead, every Sunday, to batter your heart with his failure,
leaving you to sit alone nights in the kitchen when the house

had finally quieted, unshaven face buried in your hands,
wondering when life would grow tired of kicking your ass?

Brian Patrick Heston grew up in Philadelphia. He holds an MFA in fiction from George Mason University and an MFA in poetry from Rutgers University. His poems have won a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize and have been published in such places as West Branch, 5am, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Poet Lore. Presently he teaches writing and literature at Rowan University and the Community College of Philadelphia.