OPEN #12 IN RAW SIENNA WITH GRAY BY ROBERT MOTHERWELL

Devon Miller-Duggan


wants all your breath. Smoke so dense the outside’s disappeared, smeared, occluded

thick unbreathable stagnant distances what we will stop at. Or be stopped by what w

ill eat our hands/arms should we try to part the caramel-thick smoke. Leaning against

these breathing cedar redwood tobaccoleaf umber sepia all smudged terracotta water-

leaching clay-smeared lalala-ing brown study (it must be a Brown Study) where the b

lack lines of thoughtstudy approach the fog/fug stop, go back, comeback, run alongsid

e the fog/fug & off away into the whitewhere beyond the painting (other wall entirely)

& return, stop-going, going down exactly where the fog/fug would end if it had come s

o far and, shaking itself off, the black thinking line (it wants to go somewhere with yo

u) until it makes a dot/smudge & stops. No neednowhere further to go. Enough of thin

king. Cinnamon breathes into/through the paint & goes wherever it might need to go b

eyond/around/behind the fog away from eyes (your eyes, the wall’s one eye, Time’s e

ye). It finds your hands and gives them back. They trace the brown-thought line (what

it wants), one finger at a time, over the whole trail. Come away. You’re your own now.

Devon Miller-Duggan has had poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, The Indiana Review, Harpur Palate, The Hollins Critic and a longish list of really little magazines. She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, an editor’s prize in Margie, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She teaches for the Department of English at the University of Delaware. Her first book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall appeared from Tres Chicas Books in November 2008.

Red Carp

Robbin Farr

I. Old koi pond

Still they swim, the light radiant
on their bodies. They bend
into faint commas
un-comma again,
again not resisting the water’s
accustomed flow but forming
it, they enter it and with the ancients’
alchemic knowledge, become gold. Always
they swim, they are swimming through
my life, creating currents.

II. Abstraction

I dream of swimming
with red carp, become,
flash into orangebloom,
sunset brilliant scales

color blown like poppies
on the silk field of a kimono
or like quickflash red slipped
from a painter’s brush

surface-bound by logic
until the crimson blossoms
watery, to seek the place
of colors felt, slippery
or cold or swift.

Robbin Farr is a resident of the Queen Village. After completing her MFA in creative writing, she discovered the bookbinding arts and mastered parallel parking. In addition, she teaches creative writing and American studies to high school students in Montgomery County.

Bicycles

Amanda Hempel

We sailed through the evening-cool crevices of Forest Hills,
grass clippings and hawberries that popped like fire
under our sneakers, barking dogs hidden in houses
and distant shouts to invisible somebodies,
coasting into intersections on found bikes,
daredeviling down the steepest hills, pedaling toward
some road that wouldn’t lead home.
Amanda Hempel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but has lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1986. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in several journals.

She Finds a Letter From a Future City

Ephraim Scott Sommers

It starts with a war
Over a piece of candy.
The world’s split open

By the lips of butterflies. We stitch it back together
With bluebirds, pull the ocean
Like a bed sheet back onto the sand.

—I got a job selling two-dollar paper suns
To turn a twenty-five cent profit
And loved on an empty stomach.

Now we have rituals of fish, white wine,
A first name, a look in the eye.
And when there is talk of borders,

We remind each other that one day, one hundred
Years ago—your tomorrow—an orchid went off
In Times Square, in Moscow, a box of chocolates.
A singer and guitar player, Ephraim Scott Sommers has produced three full-length albums of music and toured internationally both as a solo artist and with his band Siko (see-co). Most recently, his poetry has appeared in New Madrid, Versedaily, City Works, and more. His work is forthcoming in Blue Earth Review and Columbia Review.

Gifts That May Have Made a Difference

Robbin Farr

Molted feathers of parakeets
Green sea glass
One nettle
A moss-covered twig
Rain from the hollow of a rock
A ribbon woven of winter grass
The loon’s reflection
An oak leaf pressed into my palm
Hand-strung blue beads
An empty cicada shell
A capful of rust to tint my paints
Your apology
                  on the peeled bark of a birch

Robbin Farr is a resident of the Queen Village. After completing her MFA in creative writing, she discovered the bookbinding arts and mastered parallel parking. In addition, she teaches creative writing and American studies to high school students in Montgomery County.

The Bachelor

Luke Stromberg

We imagine him sexless — this wifeless,
childless man with his false teeth
and rumpled fedora; each article of clothing
a different species of plaid, as if he hailed
from a time before there were mirrors.
How easy it is to imagine the happy bachelor
on an afternoon walk, or alone
in his armchair, his ancient television
like a Rembrandt, everything surrounded by
encroaching darkness. He seems to have never been
young. One hears of years spent
caring for his sick mother, while his sisters
married, raised families — his own life
a mere sub-plot in their on-going stories.
And most accept this image
because it is easy, because it frightens
no one. Few care
to know what his life was
really like, what he most regrets
in that long, gray hour when the day
bleeds through the night.

Forgive me if I imagine him young
in bed with a woman, also young.
It’s Sunday morning. He doesn’t feel guilty
that he’s not at Mass. Her face is turned
toward him, her cheek against her pillow,
the strap of her nightgown off her shoulder,
a softness in her eyes that says she knows him.
This is what his life had to offer.
This is his story, the one
he will tell himself over and over.
Who else will remember it?
The way the light shone behind
the blinds, the way they had no money
and bickered all the time, the way
he loved her.

Luke Stromberg received both his BA and MA in English at West Chester University. In 2008, his poem “Black Thunder” was set to music by composer Melissa Dunphy and performed at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA. He was also recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about promising young poets in the Philadelphia area. Luke lives in Upper Darby, PA.

The Floy Floy

Dorothy DiRienzi

                  It’s a shame you never saw Atlantic City when it had floy floy.
                                                  Burt Lancaster, “Atlantic City,” 1981

Boardwalk said Possible
             said Here 

Walked from the Inlet to Texas Ave
Salt air sand and waves thumping
barkers chanting rhyme
of Win rhyme of Easy easy
you can do it show the lady a good time
sweetheart I’m your man
let me show you how easy it is for a nickel
for a dime

Short hair pinned with a flower
sixteen and Oh my sailor girl let’s go
sailing but no time to stop
I’ve got to walk to move to
get past the storefront where Madame Xerxes
reads your fingertips mine burning
stinging in the surf           past the place
with the girl in the iron lung talk to her
for a dime dead-eyed parents
at the curtain

The diving horse drowned

              Things happen here
              You can smell it on the air

In the morning salt light                blacktop
shimmering across the parking lot
I watch a bartender
at the back door of a club
his shirt wide open shoes untied he
clutches the barmaid kisses her

I can taste it

 

 

Dorothy DiRienzi has published in Friends Journal, Poetry Midwest, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Passager, MO:Writings from the River, and more. She was a runner-up at the Tucson Poetry Festival, 2005, 2010 and a semifinalist for Black Lawrence Press poetry prize, 2008. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and previously worked as an editor and indexer of medical publishing titles in Philadelphia, PA for 38 years.

Unfinished Daughter, III

Janice Wilson Stridick

You sharpened your pencils
when I agreed to sit, produced

a careful record: broken woman
still young, but childless.

The collar a simple circle
leash-like, yoke-like

draws no attention from the face—
pupils like currants or seeds

shadows track time
under eyes, above lips

nostrils no longer perked
the stare distant, wistful—

you would say sadder but wiser
I would say—determined.
I would say betrayed.

Janice Wilson Stridick’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing, Milk Money, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Studio One, The View in Winter, and various anthologies. Her book and art reviews have appeared in NY Arts Magazine, Philadelphia Stories and Cape May Star And Wave. She has an MFA from Vermont College and lives in Merchantville, NJ.

Indian Creek

Robin Rosen Chang

We explored the creek that
meandered through our yards
as if we had discovered it
ourselves, wandering along its bed,
navigating its twists and turns
until we learned where its water
moved fastest, where it trickled,
where its stones jutted out,
forming steps for us to cross
from one side to the other,
and when we knew it perfectly,
we rolled our pants, tossed
our dirty socks and worn sneakers
and waded through it,
lifting rocks to catch crayfish
and scooping up salamanders
shrouded in the cool mud.

In winters, we stomped along
its frozen gray surface like giants,
cracking the ice with our heavy steps,
or slid clumsily on the thicker
patches behind the McCabe’s house.
One day, you fell through,
shattering it, and when you got up,
tears streaming down
your chubby child cheeks,
you turned to me,
exclaiming it was my fault,
that a true friend wouldn’t
just stand by, so to ease your pain,
I lay in the frigid creek,
in the exact spot where you had fallen.

Robin Rosen Chang, a native of Philadelphia and a former graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, lived in many places before settling in New Jersey ten years ago. She is an adjunct professor of English as a Second Language at Kean University. Her work has appeared in the NaPoWriMo online poetry anthology and A Handful of Stones literary blogzine, and is forthcoming in The Stillwater Review.

April 19 2010

Jacob Russell

Spring chill at dusk
taillights
tell

in red
blue satin evening arrives

how many will be lost
reaping secrets from stars

the streets will keep faith through the night —
their incessant
conversation

let others sleep

Jacob Russell says, “I live and write & walk the streets of South Philly with my Spirit Stick.” His work has appeared in decomP, Criiphoria 2, Conversational Magazine, Connotations, and more. Read more on his blog, jacobrussellsbarkingdog.blogspot.com