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

Staying In Place

Carol Dorf

The way each intersection

in a city where you’ve lived a while

becomes layered with personal archeology

 

The cafe that replaced a liquor store you avoided,

and the friend (or lover) you broke up with there,

and the way on the day of the big fire you passed

this corner as she said, "no, this isn’t much, just grass

in the hills." Somehow in this place, even disaster

passes into ordinary life: insurance, contractors. 

 

Unfold the map of all the places you have ever worked,

the colleagues you have run into, and the way

they complain about some of the same people

and some new ones you’ve never met, and you nod,

like, of course, I get exactly how it is to sit at that desk,

in that cubicle, and how it feels when that creep

stands in the entry, leaning against both walls at once.

 

This is the prequel to moving to Honolulu

or Prague, places full with narratives no one

could expect you to know, but peaceful at the moment.

You choose someone else’s landscape to drink

coffee in, while you observe the morning commute.

Before she went to college, Carol Dorf, had never been outside of the Philadelphia area, for more than 4 nights. Her house on Ninth Street has been torn down, and the one on Pleasant Drive was condemmed. Her poems have appeared in Fringe, The Midway, Poemeleon, New Verse News, Edgz, Runes, Feminist Studies, Heresies, Coracle, Poetica, Responsa, The NeoVictorian, Caprice and elsewhere. She’s taught in a variety of venues including Berkeley City College, a science museum, and as a California Poet in the Schools. She now teaches at a large, urban high school.

Putting Up Peaches

Dee Dee Risher

We sit at the kitchen table,

Conversation as random as the peaches

We choose from the bushel basket.

Order does not matter–

All will empty out in the end.

Our histories are grafted.

 

This summer alchemy

We learned in the bone of our childhood.

The fruit already garnered

from glossy leaves and blue sky,

aligned on weathered, paint-cracked sills

to wait the ripe of now–

Yesterday too soon, tomorrow too late.

 

We handle the soft flesh gently,

Stripping ruby skins to gold, honey-streaming,

summer-soft words, recounting piecemeal

what may this year be said.

Our hands busy, there is always somewhere to look

When bruises rise and the sweet juice at our wrists

is salted with tears. These intimacies

are as healed as ever they will be.

We do not offer one another condolences–

we are that honest.

 

Knives in strong, firm hands,

We bend to our work and the telling

which this December will gleam gold

and secret on the pantry shelf.

  

 

 

Halves

Valeria Tsygankova

“A Serb farmer used a grinding machine to cut in half his farm tools and machines to comply with a court ruling that he must share all his property with his ex-wife.”    – Reuters report

I thought she would take half of what was ours
not half of what was mine.
Things she could never use.
So let me take my tools beyond the earth.

I am in the barn, cutting harrows
into halves and peeling hammers
at their hidden spines.

Cattle scales and plows split in useless pieces
lie in their last dirt.

No one can be satisfied. The world
comes in parts. I am only reducing it
closer to its hidden face.

What will I do with the cow?
What does anyone ever do with the
things that won’t be shared?

Valeria Tsygankova is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania studying English and creative writing. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Chantarelle’s Notebook and campus publications Penn Review and The F-Word. Valeria was born in Moscow and grew up in the Philadelphia area.

Like Nothing in the World

Jacob Russell

The world is filled with gods
They are like nothing else in the world
This is how you know they are gods

The gods did not make the world
The gods were made by the world
They are more helpless then they have ever been

I asked them if they were once
Like the gods of our storied past
But they did not answer

Their tongues were made of stone
And their teeth of wool
They neither sing nor speak

I found them one day searching
For change, but my pockets were empty
Everything now must remain as it was

Only the world changes
As stars withdraw to the beginning of time
As we found ourselves at the edge of the forest

Following the animals over the plains
Listening to their lies, their endless
Stories of gods who will not let them be
Jacob Russel lives in South Philly and teaches part time
at Saint Joseph ‘s University. His writing has been published in
the Beloit Poetry Journal, Salmagundi, Potomac Review, Bitter Oleander,
Pindeldyboz, the Laurel Review and other literary venues. jacobrussellsbarkingdog.blogspot.com

Sea Legs

Scott Hammer

You never hear the people
who jump.

Their steps echo on decks
above in consonants spit after
splash.

It isn’t a language you study
but frays of split
rope, splinters and simple carving
in cedar, where a blade
anchored
is pulled.

It’s silence, finally
when the ship tosses its ghosts:
drying watermarks, no
letters of intent.

The dead, you guess, were once
cast aside in lungsfull.

Maybe you trace tissue to the edge
to find forgotten tongue and speak
to complete the fragment.

Scott Hammer’s other poems have appeared in magazines such as Poet Lore, Lungfull!, Can We Have Our Ball Back, and Freefall. He teaches English at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Philadelphia .

Warminster

Kathryn Pilles-Genaw

The lot
was stones
and corners,
rafters shafts
of stars
and certainty.
Here
the cut-down
pines remember
circuitry
and sap:
warm boy,
just love can
drip like that,
thick
as plums
and straight
as parallel
powerlines.

Kathryn Pilles-Genaw graduated with her MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. She currently shares an efficiency in Philadelphia with six cats and two bicycles.