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Peter E. Murphy

Cop held in killing of mute with rake
How was I to know the suspect could not hear me
shout, “Drop your weapon to the ground!”
as he continued to muster the dead leaves
which had accumulated since August?
How was I to know the perp wasn’t loaded,
that he was stone sober, going about his work?
How was I to know my language failed me,
that my dumb words ricocheted away from the man
who jerked his yard tool, startled when I stood
behind him, pointing my nervous automatic at his chest?

Only minor injuries reported to a small child
Besides, there’s plenty of time for him to grow
used to the bad news of fractures and contusions.
No need to worry him now how the world can poke
out his eyes and sever his spine, leaving him a stranger
to his extremities. When he is no longer a minor,
when he becomes a major, then we can tell him
the details of the whole story, how the happy ending
is when the victim dies, finally free of the pain
that has grown inside him waiting to be born.

Philadelphia wipes out crime on paper
And not a moment too soon,
the mayor complained
to the police chief. The trees
are a powerful block whose votes
I must have for re-election.
They weren’t happy working
overtime to replenish the reams
vandalized by careless copiers
and shredders that cut away
the best rings of their lives.
Now that the trees are muted,
I want you to hit the bricks
and clean up the mess
of the leaves and arrest
the men who do not listen,
who continue to scratch
their rakes against
the fine skin of the lawns.
Peter E. Murphy is the author of Stubborn Child (2005), a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize, and a chapbook, Thorough & Efficient (2008) both from Jane Street Press. Retired from teaching English and creative writing at Atlantic City High School, he now teaches poetry writing at Richard Stockton College and is the founder/director of the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway held annually in Cape May.

Crow in a Puddle

Brian Patrick Heston

A city boy, I was used to potholes
filled with rainwater. But this was Durham

New Hampshire. A single crow
splashed like a kid in a plastic

pool. He went under, came up,
spreading his sparkling wings. I stood

stupefied like someone watching
Christ go by on a donkey. In the middle

of Mill Road, a deer’s half-
devoured face gaped. I cleared

my throat. Wind shuddered birches
and maples. Crow gave me a look,

pushed up his razor beak—lifting
again into the cloud-clogged sky.

 
Brian Patrick Heston grew up in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He has an MFA from George Mason University and also a Master?s in English and Poetry from the University of New Hampshire. His work has appeared in Pennsylvania English, Confrontation, Slipstream, Cake Train, Poetry Southeast, West Branch, Many Mountains Moving, The Bitter Oleander, and is upcoming in Gargoyle. He currently teaches at the Art Institute of Washington and Marymount University in Arlington Virginia.

Reading Her Skull

Natalie Ford

because it’s close now
under her thrust pale skin,
catching every stranger’s eye
before they refocus
and rush to greet us
passing in the street

even when daylight drops
and she pulls on
a knit cap, you can tell
it’s close still,
pressing up hard under
the thin textured yarn

and bone shapes her eyes
now they’re shorn –
even the dark brows
that made her grave over books,
easy to spot in pictures,
gone

she laughs nearing the house,
saying she believes now
in phrenology,
in that old science of self:
Here, character
Here, temperament 

while, walking still closer by
her side, I read it
differently, silently:
Here, destiny

Natalie Ford is originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She has recently returned to Bucks County after completing a PhD in Victorian literature and psychology at the University of York, England. Ford’s poetry has appeared in national and international journals.

Hand & Hip

Courtney K. Bambrick

The thin wisp of warmth
evaporates after a moment,
gone until a small breath

catches you in whatever place
it is that sends the five fingers
and smooth palm of your hand

surfing through sheets and back
to rest on the cool rising dough
of my hip. Small then,

the house; and large, the room
in which we battle cold.

Courtney Bambrick worked in theater as both a costumer and an administrator until enrolling in Rosemont College’s MFA writing program. She is originally from the Philadelphia area, but attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and lived in Galway and Waterford, Ireland. Her work has appeared in Parlor, Philadelphia Poets, Mad Poets Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and the University of the Arts Poetry Review.

Detour

Elisabeth Majewski

One day you may veer your van or perhaps

the spiffy family sedan off the 422 freeway

driving home by the back way, past the Corinthian

Yacht Club, where guests palmed their cognacs

when you and I stripped and dove underneath

the dock by the tackle and gift shop.

You may try to remember

the swish of my gypsy dress hitting the planks

any maybe lift your hand from the wheel

trying the sketch the curve of my spine,

the Cyrillic tattoo right under its dip.

Your wife, blonde like a baby, will remain slack

against the leather headrest, but the kid

in back will ask, Dad? What’s
up with your hand?

Yo! Dad! And you’ll say, Nothing.
But you’ll
think

hard, try to recall if the sound of dance band

came swinging up from the clubhouse,

if there were deer by the marina or just pockets of fog,

shifting, if the air was warm with grass and magnolia

or lavishly scentless, and what may come through

are those footsteps, like gunshots, overhead—

a waitress in her white apron and little lace hat

carrying cocktails to the pier’s
gazebo. Her surprise,

her giggles, Jeez, guyz! Youse shouldn’t
be here!

our smiles of relief, slatted by moonlight—

and how, afterward, we both fit in one spotted towel

the one she had left us.

Then, after you steer that slick car up your driveway

you may wonder in the few seconds it takes

your garage door to howl open

what has happened to me, what in the world

has become of you

Elisabeth Majewski is a native from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. She works as a part-time English instructor at Montgomery County Community College and is a freelance translator in Dutch, French and German. Her poetry has been published in French by the La Fontaine poetry association at www.lafontaine.net. Elisabeth lives in Gilbertsville, PA.

Parlour Noise

Elisabeth Majewski

From where I am I can hear it all—

I hear the table aching, bemoaning

the weight of ten bone china plates,

the soup terrine with the lion on its lid

intrepid with its claws widely spread, however

decapitated. As the parlor pools with sounds,

I listen to its scorn—the walls swell,
the sheers

swish, like a hostess flicking her skirt back

and forth as to hush her dirt-dissing guests.

I hear the rusting of locks, the yellow vulgarities

of some mums in scalloped pots, the shrieking

of a maidenhair leaning into the radiator’s
scorch.

Most persistently I can hear the fruit rot

in pop-pop’s copper basket, but not
the gnats

hovering above it—new-born, they
are ignorant

about our voicing of hunger. I listen to the graying

of my mother’s hair as she enters
in bog-wafts

of Brussels sprouts and purple giblets.

Like drunkards warbling, both dishes try to shout

each other out. I hear them sing, “we
win, we win.”

Dad gets up, takes his pipe, his paper, his pygmy

glass trembling with jenever and disengages.

I am not here, nor have I ever been.

Elisabeth Majewski is a native from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. She works as a part-time English instructor at Montgomery County Community College and is a freelance translator in Dutch, French and German. Her poetry has been published in French by the La Fontaine poetry association at www.lafontaine.net. Elisabeth lives in Gilbertsville, PA.

Philadelphia Fog

Eileen Moeller

It gathers in puffs outside the windows,
until even the tallest buildings,
hunched as they are near the river,
slip away like memories do
when you get older,
so you’re not sure whether
they ever really happened.
Maybe you dreamed them.

Even the Ben Franklin Bridge
with its big sweeps of light
and delicate spider web curves
is gradually erased like chalk on a board,
or like chalk effaced by a field of chalk.

The city becomes mythology then:
a story we all agree to believe,
a creature in metamorphosis,
a ghost both fearsome and genial
haunting the waterfront.

And we curl inside our prisons of white,
worried we too might soon disappear:
like herds of tiny ancient beasts,
or schools of fish being gobbled whole
by this great white hunger
as big as a snow’s.
Eileen Moeller has an M.A. in Poetry from
Syracuse University, and many years experience as a teacher. Her
poems have appeared in BlueFifth Review, The Paterson Literary
Review, Feminist Studies, Writing Women, and more. She judged the
2004 Milton Dorfman Poetry Contest, and the 2005/2006 Syracuse Association
of American Penwomen contests Her work Body In Transit,
is online at skinnycatdesign.co.uk/eileen/.

Lesson From My Older Sister

Roger L. Miller

I was six years old, at the bottom
of the dark staircase.

You were ten, at the top.
Palms raised beside your shoulders
proved the void around you;
"See? No monsters."

I could barely see you,
your eyes the only light.
Moving incrementally closer, and eventually into the heart of Philadelphia after student teaching in Chadds Ford, Roger doesn’t (officially) use his BS in Science Education or MA in Psychology during corporate days. At night he sometimes poses as a photographer, writing with light instead of ink. Both styles of work can be found on his site- LucidMusic.com. He eats when hungry, drinks when thirsty, sleeps when tired, and writes when stirred.

city beach

Luke Boyd

they drag the
sky blue plastic pool
into the street
scraping gravel and laughing,
fill it with a hose
and the water looks
sky blue too
even though the sky
looks dishwater gray,
strafed with greasy clouds,
the sun wrapped in oily wax paper.
they splash
and make wet footprints
dancing on the steaming cement
sidewalk littered with the night’s
treasures—
seductive slivers of
broken beer jewelry
and washed up
dead jellyfish rubbers.
splashing,
screaming,
soft pink skin running
barefoot and blind—
and nobody gets cut
and nobody gets stung.

Luke Boyd worked at a sawmill and a trucking company to put himself through college and now is an inner-city high school teacher in Allentown, Pennsylvania. According to his students Boyd has invented the Internet, the number 7, and sarcasm. Some of his work has appeared in: The Misfit Literati, Bewildering Stories, Dark Sky Magazine, and Wanderings. He is rumored to believe in unicorns.

Calvin

Luke Boyd

Splintered doorjamb,
Busted lock
Won’t catch,
Keys don’t work anyway,
And what’s worth stealing?
Last month
At the
Last apartment
Mom and Felix locked me out
For a week,
Told me to
Get my shit together.
He’s selling dirty blood
And she’s selling—
Well, she’s selling.
I sleep some nights
In Stephanie’s car
Or walk until dawn,
Stopping to sit on porches
(Like I live there)
When cops roll by.
I fall asleep in first period
And my math teacher says
I’ll never get to college like that
And I say I can’t
anyway—
I only have two pairs of pants
And no home address.
He smiles white teeth and starched shirts
And speaks white speak and
starched
words:
You’re a minority,
All you have to do is show up, and
They have to take you, it’s
the law.
Imagine a campus full of
Ex-Latin Kings
Using correction fluid
And
Parenthetical notation.
I say, I know
(Leave me alone).

Luke Boyd worked at a sawmill and a trucking company to put himself through college and now is an inner-city high school teacher in Allentown, Pennsylvania. According to his students Boyd has invented the Internet, the number 7, and sarcasm. Some of his work has appeared in: The Misfit Literati, Bewildering Stories, Dark Sky Magazine, and Wanderings. He is rumored to believe in unicorns.