Where is the fox

Margaret A. Robinson

when I can’t see her               
long tongue lapping
a drink from the leafy
pool in my birdbath

has she registered
with a political party
does she attend
home-and-school

night to fight against
sweetened drinks
in vending machines
as bad for her cubs

is she friends with
the doe and four
fawns who also
troop through

my yard or the buck
with his full rack
of antlers looking
like an insurance

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does the raccoon
advise the vixen
on mascara

length of eyelash
have they agreed
it’s silly
to shave their legs

will the fox catch
a neighborhood cat
will she lie down
with a lamb chop

topped with mint
and a paper ruffle
where do her feet
foxtrot at night?
Margaret A. Robinson’s new chapbook of poems, about breast cancer and love, is called "Arrangements" and is available at the Finishing Line Press website.  Robinson teaches in the creative writing program at Widener University and lives in Swarthmore.

Devon Drive

Pat O’Brien

I am trying to remember blackberries
on my tongue, and my mother’s rolling pin
flattening out the oily dough for pies,
and didn’t dad lay the slate porch we etched in chalk,
and didn’t we nap on the hot slate
until our eyelids glowed orange,
and how many times did the woods drip secrets,
and how many steps were there to sock island
where silver minnows darted back    
and forth like underwater flags rippling,
and wasn’t it below the abandoned railroad tracks
where we dug in clay mines to shape ashtrays,
and what it was like to win that crab-apple fight
with the Rockwood gang. I know there was always
wonder, and when the sky streaked pink under
a pulling moon, weren’t our mothers
always calling us home. Pat O’Brien teaches Creative Writing at Penn State Brandywine.  Her poems have appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Mad Poets Review, and Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts. She lives in West Chester with her husband and two daughters.

ILLUMINATION: 2005

Hayden Saunier

They took away our windows for two weeks,
ripped them from kitchen walls with wonder bars,
then nailed up sheets of chipboard, while we waited
for new windows to be manufactured
in a long steel building somewhere east of Trenton.
It was never really cold or hot inside, just dark,
just really dark; the place stayed dry
and we had fun one night shooting
insulating foam into the cracks before a massive
cold front blew across the Appalachians,
but even then the dark was working on us.
We had one trouble light, a single bulb
that sat inside an orange cage, suspended
from a hook above the pantry door. That,
and the TV’s nervous blue light, flashing
its parade of hooded men in orange jumpsuits,
bound and kneeling down on both sides
of the ocean: that was our illumination.
The windows came in, insulated, thermo-
paned, their sashes riding oiled blue sliders
like a guillotine. Light came through them,
made our canary hearts swing wide inside
their cages, but after so much dark,
we could not shake our boxed-in
bitterness: our view was not the same.Hayden Saunier’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, 5 A.M., Rattle, and Philadelphia Stories, among others. A 2008 Pushcart Prize nominee, her first book of poetry, Tips for Domestic Travel, is due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2009.

Bedtime Story

Gwen Wille

If we tell another day with-
out wasted breath
or furtive glances set
free from hazy dreams
and desire, I could pretend
your real life
away.  Standing on the ledge

with an eye on lamp-lit
streets, I’ll hold your
hand for that first step
into lands hewn
from letters or
shapes of cobwebs
and dew in the eyes of bright

Tigers who measure it out, all
even, and name the breeze.
And you are once again a World
War One flying ace with a shrug
to steel wings and I’m Billy
the Kid as I dust off
my britches and peek

through the sheet
to your unwritten
tale: a rhyme unraveling
on the crease of a carpet
aired out from your soles
as you forgive an old line
behind the coat and hat
of a gentleman’s

parade.  Here then the pen
on your page draws the hem
of my smile as poppies fall loose
from my tongue, one draught
to help you sleep
soundly tonight without stolen
sight to ever after’s addictions.Gwen lives and works in the West Chester area.  She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2005, and was born in Santa Fe.

In Lieu of Flowers

Gwen Wille

In lieu of flowers,
we’ll bring that time you burned
toast and stunk up the whole down-
stairs, and the sound of your boots
through empty halls.  We’ll bring that

old brown hat, seven August meteorites,
and the hoarse Harrison, hoarser McCartney,
trembling, tired, joyous— only one more
time, I promise —helter skelter out the window
and into the open
     air.

We’ll bring the change from your pocket: pennies,
for luck.  We’ll bring the bar-
codes, the maps, the trail hiked so often as to feel
like coming home, now long and wicked, switched
and swiveled, green; we’ll bring the thunder
dodged all the unwound way
back to the car.

And we’ll bring that summer
the birds got into the woodshed,
pried the dry-packed Burpees,
     scattered
          cosmos
from door to hedge— that sum-
mer you let it all grow wild.
Gwen lives and works in the West Chester area.  She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2005, and was born in Santa Fe.

Water Song

Allen Hoey

 

The woods aren’t very deep, but you can

get past where the sound of traffic

reaches, and all you hear is the melody

water makes dropping around rocks,

a complex composition, constantly

changing, modulating, carrying your mind

like a leaf along the surface unless you

make the choice to stay where you stand,

by the side of the stream, and watch

how the water flows around the rocks,

sliding along the jagged blades of ice

that cling to the banks, the few broken

branches that hang into the stream, limp

and swaying with the current. When I

kneel and let the water course around

my hand, the cold shoots the length

of my arm, and even my teeth ache from

the violent chill. I let it stay a minute

more in the water, two, and feel the way

the water moves, courses, the steady

irregularity of current, and I feel

the way the water moves in me—all

blood, muscle, everything water, everything

flowing, flowing—constant motion

while the mind sits still and sings

the song of the water, soft then loud,

soft, then lift my hand from the stream,

shake it dry, and take the long way home.

Allen Hoey has published two novels and five collections of poems, most recently Country Music (2008). In 2009 he will publish a new collection of poems and a mystery. He teaches at Bucks County Community College and directs the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program.

The Road

Leonard Gontarek

We had American cooking in a diner. 

It was dusk. Everyone felt

like dancing and singing.

No one did, except the drunk.

 

Mick had to say goodbye

to every waitress  and the cook.

The cook’s grief seemed real as tears in a dream.

The moon turned every fallen blossom to light.

 

Tomorrow?

I let my arm drift out the car window and it flew away.  

Leonard Gontarek has lived in Philadelphia for twenty years. He has taught and presented hundreds of poets through reading series in the area. He is the author of St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris, Van Morrison Can’t Find His Feet, Zen For Beginners and Deja Vu Diner (Autumn House Press, 2006). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Joyful Noise! An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry, American Poetry Review, Blackbird, BlazeVox, Pool, Fence, Field, and as a tattoo. www.leafscape.org/LeonardGontarek

Untitled

Katie Tunning

You play the fretted verb

of my spine; you

pervade; you sculpt me

to your negative space.

 

Silvering fish rise

to the wave: my sharp hip

juts, a rock holding out

against the honeyfingered sea.

 

The string of salted

hours stretches on

as the pins in the lock

keep shifting.

 

You are plush,

thin-skinned,

quick to act,

in every way a liability.

 

I am unfit

for human company;

I inhabit a surrogate world.

My hands lately are made of happy wasps.

 

Go on and crush me

with your bag of chances.

Custom dictates that here we close our eyes

and throw pennies into the future.

Katie Tunning lives in Philadelphia, where she knits, plays Scrabble, and occasionally remembers to write poetry.

Glory

Allen Hoey

                         and the firmament sheweth his handywork.                                                —Psalms 19:1  

Sometimes, late night, the middle of January

maybe, I get home, everything’s quiet, the cows

aren’t in the pasture out back, all the lights

turned off as far as I can see, the packed snow

crunches underfoot as I step away from the car

and slam the door, but not quite a crunch, almost

a kind of squeak, it’s that cold, and then, cold

as it is, I stand beside the car and lift my head

to look up at the sky, not a cloud, a high wind’s

blown the heavens clear, and all the stars are weaving

the way I’d weave heading across the yard

and up the stairs, the warm air, the faint trace of

heating oil, the rumpled bed at the end of the hall,

but now the stars dance their little dance and,

my God, it’s cold, and I’m here, and that’s

just about the best a man could ever care about.

  

 

  Allen Hoey has published two novels and five collections of poems, most recently Country Music (2008). In 2009 he will publish a new collection of poems and a mystery. He teaches at Bucks County Community College and directs the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program.

A.M.

Leonard Gontarek

I think Death will come

when my face is wrapped

in warm towels in a barber shop.

We will exchange witty, brilliant,

 

noir chit-chat and comebacks in the delicious,

ambiguous moments of postponement

before the inevitable and ineffable.

I will feel rich, at last,

 

elegantly dressed as a mobster.

One cool customer.

I will finally have shaved this damn beard.

Until then, birdsong slits

 

the fabric of morning and aromatic shadows

spill on the trees and gold grass.

The coffee, black, hot, but not too hot,

the way I like it.

Leonard Gontarek has lived in Philadelphia for twenty years. He has taught and presented hundreds of poets through reading series in the area. He is the author of St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris, Van Morrison Can’t Find His Feet, Zen For Beginners and Deja Vu Diner (Autumn House Press, 2006). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Joyful Noise! An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry, American Poetry Review, Blackbird, BlazeVox, Pool, Fence, Field, and as a tattoo. www.leafscape.org/LeonardGontarek