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.

Uncle Karl Was a Bull’s Eye for Trouble

Mary Rohrer-Dann

Stones, fists, curb-hopping cars, schemers
and scammers inevitably found him.
He fell on rocks, plummeted from trees,

stumbled on sidewalks studded with glass.
Once, he boasted, a renegade ball
at the thirteenth hole knocked him cold.
     
A cheeky mama’s boy who never left home,
bar fight, or bad bet–he excelled
at upping the ante and losing.

At family parties, he taught us to chug
orange soda to his whiskey shots
and smash Ritz crackers in raucous toasts.

Christmas Eve afternoon, he’d light a smoke,
crack a beer, then time us as we fired
tinsel missiles at my grandmother’s tree.    

When she died, he stood unbelieving
at our door, his heart beneath booze-splotched skin
already swerving towards its dead-end skid.

A decade later, prescription overdue,
he collapsed outside the pharmacy door,
his bluff called.  I imagine his hobble

on swollen feet, the sudden grip
of iron, the pavement against his cheek.
Strangers crowd round him and I wish
 
I could believe he mutters shit,  
gives them the finger, and a cockeyed grin.

Mary Rohrer-Dann grew up in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Pennsylvania State University at University Park when she is not slumming at the Jersey shore. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Cimarron Review, Sun Dog, Alembic, Antietam Review, Literary Mama, Atlanta Review, Sojourner, and other journals.

Northern Liberties

Toussaint St. Negritude

Thanks
to a gracious wind from
Chestnut Hill

333,000 brown residents
of North Philadelphia

were found buried today
in a drift of war-torn apologies.

While their opportunities
were left inoperable

the citizens of the ghetto
are eternally bemused
A resident of Philadelphia’s Coltrane District, former San Franciscan poet Toussaint St. Negritude is also a jazz bass clarinetist and composer, often poised along the Schyulkill, finding new tones word by note by word by note.

Earth at Night

Melissa Frederick

Did Mommy ever tell you
before your goodnight
kiss? her fingers
roaming your sweat-
damp bangs, baby
fine, cherub
curled
did she ever bend low
till her necklace tapped
your chin, tiny
conch-curves
of your ear
cradling her blessed
brittle whisper, Darkness

came before the light. God
is Darkness.

And we are
the earth’s subconscious—
amber neurons winking
over Terra’s cranial
vault: part matte
and glossy, heaving
dewy black, subducted

plates rubbed raw at the sutures;
all for one more grind
round the axis, white Moon
drawing
watery sheets
across a landscape’s drunken slumber

where God gets his tabula rosa
where darkness gestates and forgets

Melissa Frederick teaches creative writing and literature in the MFA program at Rosemont College. She received her Master?s degree at Iowa State University and is working toward a PhD at Temple University. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications, including the Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, The Cream City Review, Kalliope, and The Pedestal and is forthcoming in The Adirondack Review. She currently lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.