Trails

George Bishop

So she could cope with the guilt
she renamed the dog before taking it
to the pound—which got me thinking
about guilt and how I’ve shaken it
most of my life, lost it on one
of the false trails I fashioned.
It wasn’t easy being rescued
all those times, forgiving
the home in homeless
and naming the streets
just off the streets. I found
real self pity needs strong family
ties and accountability can only be
absorbed by something thick
and hidden like a wallet,
something heartless
like a heart. So, I told her
not to forgive herself
just as the dog didn’t
for soiling every living space
in the house. Guilt is part
of a good home, I said,
sometimes the only thing
that can pick up a scent.

George Bishop was raised on the Jersey Shore before moving to Florida in 1985. Recent work has appeared in Merge Review, White Pelican Review and The Griffin. His chapbook, Love Scenes, was released by Finishing Line Press in November 2009.

The Jetty

Morrow Dowdle

With a lowball of Jack and fading ice
In one hand, he took me my by the other,
And without shoes on our feet,
Two streets and one block’s sidewalk
Traversed to reach the shore that stretched

Left and right for what seemed
To me, at five, forever. 
Wading perhaps too tame for the happy hour
Burning in my father’s veins,
We stepped up to the first black rocks

Of the jetty, stepping stones for giants
Taking respite at the beach,
But more treacherous for simple humans,
Sides obsidian-slick, all at once coming
To rough points obscured by reflection.

We ventured out upon that pathway
Into the sea, the closest we would ever get
To walking on water,
My father trying to lead the way,
His unsteady steps making an irrational path,

His stride outmatching mine.
Without warning tipped the balance of tide,
And then the waves were upon us,
My father shouting retreat
Even as we began to fall, his glass

Swallowed up, returned sand unto sand. 
Miraculously sobered, he swept me up,
But looking down, I saw his shins
Had taken the brunt, jagged runs in the skin,
Red sluicing into the wet fibers of leg hair,
The first time I had ever seen my father bleed.

 Morrow Dowdle spent her childhood on the Jersey shore, in the tiny town of Spring Lake.  She graduated from The Medical University of SC with a Master’s in Physician Assistant studies and returned to her home state, where she works as a family medicine PA for McGuire Air Force Base.

Soldier

Harry Gieg

Charley, or Cholley, or Chol—
grew gardenias, raised kids and tropical fish,
and broke the knees and heads of grown men.
A soldier in a fitted
charcoal-grey wool topcoat and pearl grey felt hat,
with a wide band of black ribbon around the crown—
his shiny black Pony-ac Ventura made all three
of the city’s newspapers back in 1960 during the strike
(“but the assailants are still un-identified”).

Now Cholley’s seventy-two years old,
retired (more or less honorably dis-charged) and pensioned.    
He’s also cirrhotic, and diabetic,
and dying, too, of lung cancer—and mugged last night,
caught downtown, just off Broad
between Chestnut and Market, behind John Wanamaker’s
fifteen-story, block-long, block-wide, department store

             took my fuckin’ watch and wallet

his face, still, at once brutale, and placevolissimo,
his crooked and chipped-tooth smile and bright eyes,
his old ploy of raised eyebrows,
like a good-natured and confident kid’s
false show of helplessness

             an’ I couldn’t do nothin’ about it—
             three kids, callin’ me “pops”

his thinning hair, poker straight and lightly oiled,
combed straight back from a still-good hairline—
his large dark head, Sijjy, Sijli-ahn,    
Sicano (Sicilian), on a short, thick neck, Sicario (cut throat)

               —not a fuckin’ thing.

Harry Gieg grew up in North Philadelphia. He’ s published poetry in journals ranging from Pennsylvania Review to Jacaranda. Gieg is also a singer, starting in mid fifties with inner-city R&B vocal groups. Referring to his poetry, Gieg explains, “Mostly I’m still singing.”Harry Gieg grew up in North Philadelphia. He’ s published poetry in journals ranging from Pennsylvania Review to Jacaranda. Gieg is also a singer, starting in mid fifties with inner-city R&B vocal groups. Referring to his poetry, Gieg explains, “Mostly I’m still singing.”

Tree Removal

Nina Israel Zucker

The tree has no choice but to have its heart
exposed as I coax my mother to sleep.
Deep below ground insects call to each other
in perpetual darkness, this new life traded
for another, this useless chipped sawdust
collected in a pile while my mother
tears at her clothes, discards them in public.
Cowboys wrestle with the chainsaw, grinding
Included in the price for removal.
As if loneliness can be thrown in for nothing
as if the trunk is satisfied to be unable to grow
while I plant and cook and tuck her in.
But if she wakes, or thinks she does
she won’t be able to tell me the tree is gone
she only knows something alive is missing.
The blue and gray afternoon, the swamp maple
snapped in two in the middle of Lark Lane
the lights flashing at each corner to ward off
homeowners from turning too quickly onto
their street, loaves of bread or containers
of milk about to turn from the heat, perhaps
they think of the evening and what could
they say of the day, now that they can’t get home.

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE POET READ HER WORK. 

Nina Israel Zucker is a poet and teacher. She has taught Creative Writing at Rowan University and has been a leader for the Spring/Fountain series offered to educators in New Jersey for 10 years. She also teaches Spanish for the Cherry Hill School District. Her work has appeared in US1 Worksheets, the anthology POETS AGAINST THE WAR, ed. Sam Hamill, the New York Times feature on the Dodge Poetry Festival and many other publications. She received her MFA from Columbia University.

Ghostmaking

Wolff Bowden

You can start anywhere, with anything.
The tap of your fingerprint on an
unsuspecting ant. The release of a rope
tied to a ship suddenly adrift. The ripping
of a weed from dirt and flinging it onto
the roof where its corpse will shrivel,
whoosh off in the wind. You can stop
calling a friend, without farewell or
explanation. Lean into, then away from
the delicious press of a kiss. Every breath
is one more breath you’ll never take again.
Every night with her. Every night with him.
Every moment, you should know this,
is another ghost in the making.
Maybe that’s why the leaves outside
my window, so brave, so green
are shaking. Wolff Bowden buys time to write by selling artwork and performing with his band, The Orphan Trains. After growing up in a Florida Swamp, he was named Artist of the Millennium by Artexpo Miami. His paintings hang in the collections of Billy Collins and Frank McCourt. His poetry has appeared in dozens of literary journals, including The Madison Review and Folio. He has published two books: Orphanage of Imagination (2002) & Heavyweight Champion of the Night (2008). Wolff’s poem “Into The Day of Saturn” was recently quoted in a horoscope by astrologer Rob Brezsny. Wolff lives in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. For more info, please visit: www.wolffantastic.com & www.theorphantrains.com.

Collision

Barbara Daniels

I myself see the car crash as a tremendous
                        sexual event really.
               J.G. Ballard 

 

I blame chance, that reprobate,
for my slide and spin and slow-motion
carom across both lanes. I’m lost
in an icy lot full of damaged cars,
mine among them, towed by a trucker

who had a tremendous day. At least
I’m not in love with my car. What hurts
is not that stubborn muscle the heart,
but only my ribs and back and foot,
a humble list of injuries. My witnesses

got on their cell phones to call police
who filled out forms in neat block letters.
If crashes are sexual, who has the fun? 
I think drivers who lived through today
are turning up music to induce sweet

amnesia. I clutch ruined cars as I slip
from one to the next, find my own
with one door working and papers
I need inside. Is this like after a funeral?
People go home to love and trouble,

quarts of gin, a woman kissing another
woman, a woman so drunk she can’t
stand up. Some must call friends and
tell their crash stories; some call strangers
and whisper into their quiet machines.

Barbara Daniels lives in Sicklerville and taught English at Camden County College from 1976 through 2008. Her book Rose Fever: Poems was published by WordTech Press. She received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and earned an MFA in poetry at Vermont College.

The Fig Tree

Nina Israel Zucker

The fig tree has fallen in love with the place in the yard
that separates neighbor from neighbor. I didn’t ask permission

to plant that stick of wood between the two houses. It seemed small
and innocent, a foot of broken branch with the only life visible

in the veins of a small white root poking from one end.
What did I know of the soil and its minerals, only that I could scoop it

with one hand like cake, and drop the branch into a small warm hole,
pat the sides upright, and go on with my laundry.

And here it is now, eight feet tall and wide enough to hide me, full
of a ruby-centered fruit, tentacles of crystals, green rocks dripping

with white liquid. If I am too late the head gets so heavy that birds
call to me to pick up the over ripened broken flesh. I carry the warm

tear drops into the house and place them on the table. Here is my still
life, lush and desired. The neighbor has no idea.

Nina Israel Zucker is a poet and teacher. She has taught Creative Writing at Rowan University and has been a leader for the Spring/Fountain series offered to educators by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  She also teaches Spanish for the Cherry Hill School District. Her work has appeared in US1 Worksheets, the anthology POETS AGAINST THE WAR, ed. Sam Hamill, the New York Times feature on the Dodge Poetry Festival and many other publications. She received her MFA from Columbia University.

Burned

Gabriel Shanks

A course of action: to not
think about that. Instead, find
a recipe, one that calls for
flour, salt, wounds, and
tiny daggers.

In a mixing bowl, sift until
snowfall covers the sinkhole
entirely, in bitter perfection.
While it bakes, catch your breath.
Think of swampland.

Wait an hour, silently; when
the sunken submersible of
dignity rises from the deep,
stick a pin in it. Inhale heat
and its flavors.

While waiting, sponge and scrub
countertops. They won’t be
clean, but good enough. Place
in the window to cool. Eat
with your hands.

Gabriel Shanks lives and works in the New York City area. An award-winning poet, playwright and stage director, he was one of the creators of The Village Fragments, which received a 2007 OBIE Award. His poetry has been published in From Now On, Spark, Chopin With Cherries (2010) and elsewhere; theatrical recognitions include the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Award, the Southern Young Playwrights Award and the Theatre Project Honor for Outstanding Vision. He was recently named a "New Arts Leader" by the Washington, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

A Friend, Post-Treatment

Ben-David Seligman

The problem is that
I can’t tell him what
I think about the fact
that he died.
                        I’m against it.

I’d rather he inhale, exhale,
repeat, et cetera,
                        but, as things are,

his parents, sibs and others
confront his worldly assets,
including a slow computer,
loose papers, and
an awful car
kept alive by his constant care.

It all may sit untouched for years
while loved ones deal
with more important things.

Ben-David Seligman lives in New Jersey, where he was born and raised, and where he works as an Assistant City Attorney. His poems have appeared in The Anthology of Magazine Verse, Midstream, Jewish Currents, Kerem, Yugntruf, Poetica, Spiral Bridge (Internet), The South Mountain Anthology, Columbia Perspectives, and Surgam.

(catalog of nightmares)

Rachel Eodice

asphyxiation; aliens, from mars of course; black cats, the

bad luck kind; drowning, amidst those who drowned before

me & the muck that is decay; falling, jumping off of swings,

teeth, out of mouth; death (the dead), as if nothing

was wrong; screaming, lacking the ability; rape; car

crashes, witnessing demise; running, lack of speed;

witches and warlocks, Grimm to say the least; tornados;

babies, mine; losing, someone (close to me); getting caught,

under sheets & in closets; nudity, exposition; bathrooms,

no doors, filthy creatures; repetition; getting nowhere,

though I try; cartoons, funny colors;  breathing, underwater;

high school, a test of wills again; weddings; zombies.

Rachel is a 2008 graduate of Temple University’s Film and Media Arts program. Currently, she is working on two screenplays set in the Philadelphia area when she is not editing for Comcast Spotlight.