Waiting for October 8th

Wilson Roberts

From my window in the forest
I look out at a canopy
so thick I need candles in the
day in order to read or write.

There is one hole in the dark leaves
through which I see beyond my world;
today a red tail hawk flew by,
a mouse struggling in its talons;

the day before, a murder of
crows, shiny black and loud, filled my
hole, and three days earlier a
jetliner. I found it in my

book of airplane silhouettes, an
Airbus 300A. In seats
eighteen A and B a couple
hold hands, speaking in soft low tones,

heading for St. Petersburg where
his mother is dying; twenty
six C, an old man nods and dreams.
All this I see from my book. Once

a year, on October 8th, the
sun shines through my hole, a bright beam
fills the room and hitting the prism
I carefully placed, breaks into

shards of jangling light. Within a
month autumn leaves will have fallen,
the open sky crossed by gray limbs
and their terrible ragged branches.

Soon they will have a shell of ice
and snow as hawks and planes fly by,
and crows sit watching, silent in
the early winter dusk. There will

be days when sunlight hits these trees,
loosening their frozen cover
which, thawing, will drip to the ground,
tears in the cold dead of the year.Wilson Roberts was born and raised in Newtown, Bucks County. His novels, The Cold Dark Heart of the World (2008), The Serpent and the Hummingbird (2009), and Incident on Tuckerman Court (2010) are published under the Fantastic Books imprint of Wilder Publications. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in a number of small journals. A certified mediator, he works primarily in small claims court and with a pilot program mediating between state agencies, the courts, and families whose children have been placed into foster care. His short fiction, "Against the Dying," appears in the current issue of the Massachusetts Review.

Atlantic City

Jean YeoJin Sung

Blues emerge from the Jersey shore’s
salty spray, spitting white froth on boardwalks
lit up from Atlantic City. I close my eyes to neon
glow and gamblers’ stumbles. When you died,
I could hear reverberations of the weeping
tears that Shah Jehan spilled at the absence of his lover,
howling out from a counterfeit Taj Mahal.
Lying under tattered covers as a child, I never knew how
the miles of weathered wood here would hold
reminders of all we could lose to the restless waters –
recurring spilt sorrow that dampens the cracked planks
we once trampled over.Jean YeoJin Sung was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Cherry Hill, NJ. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University – Newark. She received her BA from NYU’s Gallatin School where she was awarded the Herbert J. Rubin Award for Poetry and her MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. She has previously published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Contrary Magazine, The 322 Review, and Salome. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Esopus Spitzenberg, 1927

Gwen Wille

By mid-October, there are so few from the old
yard left, those leaf-bright orbs, here yellow
and russet, wind-stroked but wormfree:
apples. Even the word is firm
on your tongue, tart, oversweet and old.

You’re hungry.

They go like this: one, for when you fell
out of the tree, every fruit loosen’d
from your grasp by the time you bent
over a broken wrist. You were
eight. No, younger. This fruit is cool
to the core; so good.

And oh, two: the day you saw the depth
of your father’s ache. He wouldn’t last
a year. Three for all the exams
you passed without having heeded
the lecture, and four for the baby’s
breath shed from your double breast

like all this world’s long, tired days,
every bough bent as a burrow. The fifth
is for the road. Weigh it in your palm, shroud
it with warm fingers; save it for a while. Think
on green-white flesh pocketed by seeds: dark
arsenic hearts naturally formed, and knowing.Gwen Wille lives and works in West Chester, PA. She studied writing at the University of New Mexico. Her work has appeared in Crow Toes Quarterly, Writers’ Bloc, previously in Philadelphia Stories, and others.

Early Rising on a Fall Morning

Grant Clauser

Frost is still a wonder
this October morning, an excuse
for suspicion—to think about age,
seasons replacing seasons in small stages
the way a book progresses a page at a time
until you’re in the middle of it,
letting the words into your body
like inhaling a deep winter breath
before you realize how cold
the world has become.
I wish it were that simple.
Watching things change and move on—
her small body, small puffs of breath on my arm.
My shoulders unwilling to unbind.
A corner of the yard greens and softens
as the sun rises.
Birds not yet ready to migrate
scour the warmed patch for insects.
I’ll chop wood today for winter,
thinking of warmer things
my hands clenched tight across the ax.Grant Clauser is a medical magazine editor near Philadelphia and freelance technology writer. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Hatfield, PA. Poems have appeared in various places including The Literary Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Wisconsin Review, The Maryland Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly and others plus a TV show about bass fishing. Read his blog at www.poetcore.com.

Slicing It Open

Dilruba Ahmed

I want a fruit that cleaves
               as cleanly as butter, and if
                               its barbed skin

grates my lips with an animal
               scratch, no matter.

Give me one with salmon-
              colored flesh
                             even if its nectars

mask its burrs
                and snares.

Is there no succor
                in the bite that
                               lodges inside,

in the sound
               of a device

that could
                cut me, slowly
                                whirring to life?

Dilruba Ahmed’s debut book of poems, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2010 Bakeless Prize for poetry. Ahmed’s writing has appeared in Blackbird, Cream City Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, Drunken Boat, and Indivisible: Contemporary South Asian American Poetry. Web site: www.dilrubaahmed.com.

philada blues

Paul Siegell

pink nickel-Ziplocs
branded

“NEW LIFE”

litter the outskirts
of a high-

rise condo

construction site
dumpster

that’s been

tagged “DREAMS
GO HERE”

Paul Siegell is an editor at Painted Bride Quarterly and the author of three books of poetry: wild life rifle fire (Otoliths Books, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths Books, 2008). More about Paul may be found at paulsiegell.blogspot.com.

Tying Flies for a Friend

Grant Clauser

The time isn’t anything of course,
or the hair plucked from a rabbit’s cheek,
feathers pulled from turkey wing, mallard neck.
Each thread pull, each twist,
tight against the steel hook
the barb surgically sharp like a threat,
the promise of a deep jaw set.
I haven’t seen you for years.
I hear your legs are gone,
the fight, gone too.
And yet I’m here at my desk,
tying flies and thinking of the moon
on the Bushkill, pale evening duns
lifting off the water like ghosts
while rainbow trout slipping in and out
of moonlight, gorge on velvet insects.
The water, cool against my hand
as I release the trout, one swish of the tail
and it’s part of the night again.
You laughing under the willows,
a pair of bats flying just above your head.
I twist a little bit of that night
into each set hackle, into the wings
cut from flight, into life.Grant Clauser is a medical magazine editor near Philadelphia and freelance technology writer. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Hatfield, PA. Poems have appeared in various places including The Literary Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Wisconsin Review, The Maryland Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly and others plus a TV show about bass fishing. Read his blog at www.poetcore.com.

The Solitary Canoeist

Grant Clauser

This red cliff above
Neshaminy, and a wind
left here by the fat
of winter —

only one hawk, talons
curled into the juice
of her breast, made light
in reflection by

the curved note
a solitary canoe cuts
like grief below. But how
this tawny mud, this olive snake

and rise of late March
shakes off another hour
by the bleat of geese?
Another reluctant passion

alone. And now far upstream
the red boat and tick
of spring follows winter
and this man down.

Grant Clauser is a medical magazine editor near Philadelphia and freelance technology writer. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Hatfield, PA. Poems have appeared in various places including The Literary Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Wisconsin Review, The Maryland Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly and others plus a TV show about bass fishing.

The Gardener

William Hengst

Sometimes as he cuts back the spent blossoms
or lessens the height and girth of some shrub,
he sees himself cutting hair—handfuls.

Women’s hair, feathering, layering,
perhaps trimming snipping off split ends.
He becomes a sculptor, moves full circle

around the hair, preens and pats,
steps back to admire his work,
steps in to make strategic cuts.

The only gossip is that of blade and blossom
as he cuts away the frivolous chatter.
He prefers the silence of what is shorn.William Hengst is a long-time resident of Philadelphia who writes poetry and short stories and gardens professionally. Finishing Line Press recently published "Yard Man," a chapbook of his poems inspired by his gardening life.

A Supermarket in Pennsylvania

Kathryn Elisa Ionata

I saw my old psychiatrist at Trader Joe’s,
sampling organic hand lotion.
We last faced off

50 milligrams ago, when he talked
about stress, and I watched the clock’s hands
march, an army of gears ticking

like the rattle of pills. This 2-pill-day,
I gather dried fruit, herbs,
everything organic. My old shrink,

smaller and greyer, bags peppers
and free-range chicken
with his dark-haired wife.

Tense despite the lavender plant I hold,
my gaze flings to my love, the engineer,
weighing cranberries

versus apricots. He has seen me
through deflated 1-pill-days.
My old shrink has brown bags

happier than dopamine, and I want
to block his exit, show him my fruit bars
and engineer, whose perfect serotonin

levels mock health insurance. I am 8 years,
200 milligrams better. I buy only organic and
my lavender plant doesn’t talk back.

I see my shrink slip away, like an expired prescription—

We pay for the plant and dried cranberries,
which, I have told the engineer, taste best.

Kathryn Elisa Ionata is a student in the graduate creative writing program at Temple University. Her writing has appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Hyphen, NYTimes.com, and other publications. She was the sixth runner-up in the 2008 Bucks County Poet Laureate Contest. She lives in Doylestown, PA.