Along The Way

David Floyd

(for Abraham Smith) 

Like the way religion gets in the way
of the spiritual, and the habit
of honesty gets in the way of truth,
I have gotten in the way of myself.
I’ve slipped into solipsism when I
merely meant to speak about all of us;
I’ve risen up to the universal
when I simply meant to speak about
the Liberty Bell or a Philly cheesesteak.
I saw the cracked chime on a school trip in
’76 with my kindergarten class.
I scarfed down the sandwich at 2AM
on a bender after nights of vodka
and misgivings. Because the world seemed huge
and full of autumn, once, I almost prayed
again. I got to thinking about the self
and identity, how they’re shadowy
and rewriting themselves along the way.
How they’re their own alibi for being.
The snowy egret with its signature
pompadour and the hidden privileges
of a window with an open vista
are my seminals. Before it was
the language of blue jeans, the accoutrements
of smoke, embodying every word
I said, putting my body on the line.
Now I rarely ask for forgiveness.
Keep my sins for myself. I see no
undulations behind the sky. Trying to
get in touch with feelings, I seem to feel
indifferent most of the time. That’s why
I think I know there are gut-choices, bone-
choices, things the body know the mind has
to catch up to. If worse comes to worsen,
I don’t mind being a beautiful fake.
Oh, the solace and the suffering of
the imagination. I seem to have
this way of getting in the way of my self.David Floyd was born in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Rutgers University-Camden and Temple University. His book-length manuscript The Sudden Architecture of the Dark was recently a finalist for the 2005 TampaReview Prize for Poetry and the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize.  He lives in Lansdowne, PA, and can be found reading poems by Jack Gilbert; Plato’s Republic, and Lauren Grodstein’s collection of short stories, The Best of Animals.

Renovation

Hayden Saunier

I ripped the carpet off my stairs
so now I’m halfway up and halfway
down, extracting staples from scarred
slabs of pumpkin pine. Destruction
beats creation in a footrace every day:
heave most things out an upstairs window,
gravity will do the rest— but this work
has me on my knees and keeps me there
and what I bow before keeps changing.
Hail to staple guns and staples, hail
work of opposition and determination
of the soul who put this carpet down
that it should be eternal, hail to kneepads,
needle-nosed pliers-teeth, hail flathead
shaft that pries and lifts these staples up,
hail to the ding they sing into the pail,
to sanding and to grit, to elbow grease,
to oil, to polyurethane, to spreading it
across the treads like honey with a brush,
to watching as it sinks into the grain
four times before it lies atop the surface,
do not touch, until it’s formed
the recommended hard, bright shine.Hayden Saunier’s poems have most recently appeared in Madpoets Review and The Bucks County Writer. She was the winner of the 2005 Robert Fraser Open Poetry Competiton. She lives in Bucks County.

Christmas Shopping

Tess Thompson

I don’t know what to buy my grandmother.
At eighty-three, she surrounds herself
with trinkets she can no longer see:

shelves of bells, glass angels, spoons,
porcelain boxes, tiny vases, thimbles,
carvings, candles, embroidered flowers.

Her sight blurs. She can’t read.
She knows what’s coming: She watched
the same darkness absorb her father.

This year, I examine suncatchers and frames
and paperweights. I can’t buy anything.
I imagine each item coming back to me

a few years later. As I shop, I wonder
the question I can never ask: How does it feel
to be so close to darkness?Tess Thompson’s poetry has been published in Calyx, Tempus, Literary Mama, ByLine, and the Oxford/Cambridge May Anthology for Poetry.  She has her master’s degree in Victorian Literature from Oxford University. , and I am currently at work on a novel.  She lives in northwest Philadelphia with her husband and son.

Along The Way

David Floyd

 (for Abraham Smith)

Like the way religion gets in the way
of the spiritual, and the habit
of honesty gets in the way of truth,
I have gotten in the way of myself.
I’ve slipped into solipsism when I
merely meant to speak about all of us;
I’ve risen up to the universal
when I simply meant to speak about
the Liberty Bell or a Philly cheesesteak.
I saw the cracked chime on a school trip in
’76 with my kindergarten class.
I scarfed down the sandwich at 2AM
on a bender after nights of vodka
and misgivings. Because the world seemed huge
and full of autumn, once, I almost prayed
again. I got to thinking about the self
and identity, how they’re shadowy
and rewriting themselves along the way.
How they’re their own alibi for being.
The snowy egret with its signature
pompadour and the hidden privileges
of a window with an open vista
are my seminals. Before it was
the language of blue jeans, the accoutrements
of smoke, embodying every word
I said, putting my body on the line.
Now I rarely ask for forgiveness.
Keep my sins for myself. I see no
undulations behind the sky. Trying to
get in touch with feelings, I seem to feel
indifferent most of the time. That’s why
I think I know there are gut-choices, bone-
choices, things the body know the mind has
to catch up to. If worse comes to worsen,
I don’t mind being a beautiful fake.
Oh, the solace and the suffering of
the imagination. I seem to have
this way of getting in the way of my self.

David Floyd was born in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Rutgers University-Camden and Temple University. His book-length manuscript The Sudden Architecture of the Dark was recently a finalist for the 2005 TampaReview Prize for Poetry and the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize.  He lives in Lansdowne, PA, and can be found reading poems by Jack Gilbert; Plato’s Republic, and Lauren Grodstein’s collection of short stories, The Best of Animals.

Untitled

D. B. Hoeber

I am crossing the street
and the cars are coming too fast
as in a cartoon or a dream.

Life makes bad dreams now
One little story of failure after
Another story of failure

in the morning
I start again and try
work move breathe cry.

when words fall out of my hands
I get the glue and fix them.D. B. Hoeber is an artist and writer who received her art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Moore College of Art. She has been writing poetry since about 1980 and attended Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Her poetry has been published in the Ohio Review, Gumball Poetry, the Aurelian, and in the Drexel Online Journal.

Missing your station

Jeanne Obbard

Slow anguish filters dustily
through cracks in the pavement above

and staticky words dive under the wheels
in an act of weary irritation,

and you are leaning back in resignation
while the cigarette curled in one hand

goes on breathing, the idle corner
of an unnamable beast dozing in the dust

that rises like a desert and drifts to never:
the guileless list of how we came to this

minute by minute forgetting.Jeanne Obbard is a former recipient of the Leeway Award for Emerging Artists. Her work has appeared in APR and Atlanta Review, and is forthcoming from Poetry Motel and Philadelphia Poets

Fireflies

T. Nicole Cirone

The little girls invade the lawn
stalking their prey with mason jars poised,
seeking the ever-elusive lights
yet trapping air again and again.

The fireflies have won this time,
but the little girls
had already surrendered.

Hair damp from the night air,
the girls flutter in the party lights
on the patio,
avoiding the periphery
and the darkness
they do not wish to contain. T. Nicole Cirone is a writing instructor at Widener University and a, graduate student in the MFA Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her publication credits include poetry in The Schuylkill Valley Journal.

Pickin’ ’em

Margaret A. Robinson

Light gets cruelly overworked. Sweet June
comes last, pentameter’s fifth stress,
almost always rhymed with good old moon.
To make fresher verse, sonneteers obsess,

scan thesauri, i. d. Eden’s snake –
rattler? garter? asp? Not a moot
point. Antoinette talked generic cake.
We think bombe or torte. A woman – beaut?

hag? fox? felt-hatted Greta Garbo,
pinafored Snow White? (While iambs play,
a real cop grabs his stick, beats a hobo;
unmetered lines will speak another day.)

For now, the couplet’s wrist – zircon? rhinestone?
Which spritz – My Sin? lavender cologne?Margaret A. Robinson has had over one hundred poems accepted in publications like California Quarterly, Fiddlehead, and Bathtub Gin. A print chapbook of thirty of her cheekiest poems, "Sparks," is from Pudding House Publications.

Called

Kelley White

as if pale doves lit
my kitchen with their wings
beating smoke

as if a shell sang
silver coins
into my bed

and your answer
turned to sapphire
and stayed spoken

as if the water
in my bath
turned to wineA New Hampshire native, Kelley White studied at Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School and has been a pediatrician in inner-city Philadelphia for more than twenty years. Her poems have been widely published over the past five years, including several book collections and chapbooks.

Familiar

Alison Hicks

My son claims
when it suits him
that he is afraid of birds.
He likes them otherwise,
can name robin, crow and cardinal,
and recognize the call
of the mourning dove.
But a flock of gray wings rising
knocks air beneath the ribs,
and who does not know this,
really, the bared-knuckle teeth
of the familiar. Alison Hicks’ poetry has appeared in Amoskeag, Eclipse, HeartLodge, Philadelphia Poets, Literary Mama, Peregrine, The Ledge, Pinyon, The Wooster Review and other magazines. A novella, Love: A Story of Images appeared in May, 2004. She founded Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio to offer community-based creative writing workshops using the Amherst Writers & Artists method.