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.

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.

Honeymoon

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.