Regrets

Wes Ward

When we didn’t move to Philadelphia,

we didn’t buy the hanging flower basket

for the front stoop in Old City.

We didn’t ride bicycles to the market

and fill your basket with Roma tomatoes

and eggplant. You don’t like eggplant.

And you thought Philadelphia would lose

its lure if we had a mailbox, a sconce

in the foyer, stairs that creaked.

We kept our distance and bought a dog

in a small town beside railroad tracks

that haven’t railed trains in forty years.

It’s quiet beneath these stars.

And tonight on our walk, when you asked

if I had any regrets, I had already begun

writing a poem about hanging baskets

and a love that follows us

wherever we have and haven’t lived.

 


Wes Ward earned his MA in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. His poetry has appeared in North American Review, Sewanee Theological Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Bridport Prize in the UK. Wes teaches English and lives with his wife and children in Pennsylvania.

Light Rings

Bernadette McBride

I point 6-year-old Joey’s attention to the lime-green

baby caterpillar curling itself along the sidewalk

in front of our homes, and before I take a second breath,

he lifts his miniature Nike and stamps the poor thing to goo,

 

spreads it from the bottom of his shoe to the curb, scraping

and scraping it away like Lady MacBeth unable to stop

washing her hands. But without her guilt. My horror is visceral

—it’s all I can do not to glare at him like a school marm

 

shaking a long finger. Then I recall summer nights

long ago—gaggles of kids on the block—allowed

to run free till parents called us in for baths. How many

fireflies we caught those nights, dropping them into glass jars,

 

holes poked by the boys with an ice pick into the tin lids.

They were the lucky ones. Others we stripped of their

tiny lamps, lined them around our fingers—brilliant rings

turning us into lords and ladies, queens and kings.

 


Bernadette McBride, author of two poetry collections, is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a second-place winner of the international Ray Bradbury Writing Award, and a finalist for the Robert Fraser Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in the UK, numerous U.S. journals, and on PRIs The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She is poetry co-editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and was the 2009 Bucks County Poet Laureate.

I See You

Claire Scott

Time folds back and back on itself

like my uncle’s accordion

          in our airless attic

pleated patterns create

shortcuts to the future

          I tumble through trap

doors & silent tunnels

at the speed of light, arriving

          breathless in a world

where our boots still crackle

pine needles & scales of sun still

          float through dark branches

where we stop by a secluded stream

share sandwiches, apples, cookies &

          each other

I see you walking down West Ridge

A wooden box under your arm

          I call out

I see you kneel & raise the lid

your back toward me

          I see your shoulders shake

I hear the sound of a polka

played in a distant past

          I can’t breathe in this airless place

I see you

 


Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Healing Muse, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. Her first book of poetry, Waiting to be Called, was published in 2015.

End Run

Joe Bisicchia

They cut the fog like ghosts

amidst ghosts.

Their lives are lived too fast

to accurately photograph.

The list of  “also ran” grows.

 

And soon almost new,

the almost men,

barely teens,

are men in the least,

men soon at the most

like ghosts.

 

This, the earthly mist knows,

and even the end zone

can never hold them

forever close.

 


Joe Bisicchia writes of our shared spiritual dynamic. An Honorable Mention recipient for the Fernando Rielo XXXII World Prize for Mystical Poetry, his works have appeared in various publications. The former TV host was born in Camden and grew up in South Philadelphia in the close orbit of Veterans Stadium.

Standing In The Stand

Cameron Conaway

He didn’t know the thrill

of the kill, but he knew

 

he didn’t want to kill

the thrill for his father.

 

Everything in him felt scared,

told him not to do it—

 

words he could not echo.

He sat in the tree stand

 

with his coloring books,

glanced up if something

 

quieted the loud silence.

The father knew that all

 

books are coloring books,

that knees on hills tell

 

time better than clocks

on walls, that a bullet

 

and a mountain are about

the same size. But here

 

was the best shot

to pass something down:

 

Stand up slowly, son.

This is your time.

 


Cameron Conaway is the author of 5 books, including Malaria, Poems, which was a “Best Book of 2014” by NPR. His work as a journalist has appeared in Newsweek, The Guardian, and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Conaway helps creative teams focus at GetFlow.com. He’s on Twitter @CameronConaway.

Light Rings

Bernadette McBride

 

I point 6-year-old Joey’s attention to the lime-green

baby caterpillar curling itself along the sidewalk

in front of our homes, and before I take a second breath,

he lifts his miniature Nike and stamps the poor thing to goo,

 

spreads it from the bottom of his shoe to the curb, scraping

and scraping it away like Lady MacBeth unable to stop

washing her hands. But without her guilt. My horror is visceral

—it’s all I can do not to glare at him like a school marm

 

shaking a long finger. Then I recall summer nights

long ago—gaggles of kids on the block—allowed

to run free till parents called us in for baths. How many

fireflies we caught those nights, dropping them into glass jars,

 

holes poked by the boys with an ice pick into the tin lids.

They were the lucky ones. Others we stripped of their

tiny lamps, lined them around our fingers—brilliant rings

turning us into lords and ladies, queens and kings.

Bernadette McBride, author of two poetry collections, is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a second-place winner of the international Ray Bradbury Writing Award, and a finalist for the Robert Fraser Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in the UK, numerous U.S. journals, and on PRIs The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She is poetry co-editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and was the 2009 Bucks County Poet Laureate.

The Thing About My Ears Is

Aminah Abutayeb

I am afraid

of noises miles away.

It’s like presence in a room

filled with

   jazz

   claps

   bangs

all active at once—

fifty people talk in chorus.

Simultaneous listen

makes my tasks impossible

and activation of the switch

switches on the panic trigger.

The whisper approaches

from the room downstairs

   smells

             lights

             vibrations

 

pseudo- sounds mask the

noticeable sound—phone

rings but just an air

conditioner. The worst sound

I hold is the continuous beeps

behind cacophony.

 

It’s just noise domination

with more noise elevation

embodied in the rebel

that lives deep in—

side my head.

I guess I can’t

be a firefighter

anymore.

Aminah Abutayeb is a full-time MFA candidate at Fairleigh Dickinson University concentrating on poetry. She is an Assistant Editor at The Literary Review and currently works at the Writing Center in William Paterson University. Her poem is forthcoming in Common Ground Review.  She lives in Northern New Jersey.

At Your Tribute: A Black T-Shirt, White Letters: “Not Dead Yet”

Julia Blumenreich

We forgot to water, we forgot to open the flue, so the living room quickly filled

with clouds, smoky gray, a locomotive engine had taken a wrong turn,

ending up against your parents’ figurines, gold frame caught in mid-undulation, draping over

the fireplace mirror,  bubbling milky-blue paint and the bar wheeled in for special occasions.

Sliding open to be washed by winter, we had years of thirsty African Violets, not dead yet.

 

I found you prone with a tiny angel, your hands folded to hold it.

Blue angels climbed to the top of flagpoles posing in mid-flight

reigning over that spring day 19 years before when there were orange-robed singing monks,

and smoke-damage was covered in grape vines painted,  roaming the room.

Sliding open to be washed by winter, we had years of thirsty African Violets, not dead yet.

 

Violet-themed bedclothes, lavender bath rug, the flowered towels, thick enough

to grab fistfuls, digging my nails into my numb palms, your dead ones already cool to the

touch.  Wading into wailing, all the while, picturing you up in blue and purple and orange

sliding open to be washed by winter, we had years of thirsty African Violets, not dead yet.

Julia Blumenreich is a poet and finishing her 19th year of teaching 4th grade at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA.. A recipient of a Pennsylvania Arts Council grant for her poetry, she has read her work in various venues including the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and Muse House in Philadelphia. In 2012, she collaborated with the visual artist, Wendy Osterweil, on ‘Reforesting: An Homage to Gil Ott’ a poetry/ sculptural installation/print show at The Painted Bride Art Center. Four of her poems have been set to music composed by Kyle Smith and were performed as part of “Lyric Fest” in 2014. She’s published two chapbooks: Meeting Tessie (Singing Horse Press) and Artificial Memory (Leave Books) and has completed a poetry manuscript called “So You Wonder.”

Those Late Afternoons

Dorina Pena

I’m sitting here ankle deep in the brown blues of this creek,

hoping the slim oak board bridge we made doesn’t break.

Yoda is completely absorbed by the colors in the water

near the gray rocks a few yards ahead of me. His chocolate fur

always seems clean even after his usual afternoon dirt bath.

My mom told us to stay up on my yard away from the evergreens

where our small bodies always get lost in this forest between

our houses. The green of the trees touching the grays in the sky

and I hope you snuck out the back window

climbing over trash cans and those scratchy bushes.

The afternoon settles into night and I finally see your flashlight

through thick branches and can almost spot your orange Converses. You rush

and dip your feet in, bringing bug spray and pizza pockets,

and we pop out the tape-deck with my homemade radio recordings.

Next year we’ll be able to drive and our late nights will extend

to Taco Bell runs and Evanescence on a car stereo

instead of these shared headphones. Yoda’s shaggy mane

is tough and gnarled with mud and I soak up the earth and sounds and you

my best friend Amber, not hearing the rumble of my mother’s voice

beneath the sudden hard dropping of rain

 

Dorina Pena graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with her B.A. in English Writing: Poetry in 2008. She got her M.F.A at Carlow University in Creative Writing Poetry in 2011. She has a chapbook published titled Family Tree by Monkeyman Press and she has individual poems published in Voices in the Attic anthologies and the Pittsburgh City Paper, as well as the journal Girls with Glasses. She is currently sending out her full length manuscript Masking White and her second chapbook Black History. She resides in Philadelphia, PA with her husband.

Three Blues on The Delaware

Peter McEllhenney’

The soul of the world sings in blue, sapphire

Midnight cerulean stone periwinkle Aegean

Egyptian steel, shadow shimmer, silver glint,

Flow tide breeze and sun, musics of smooth

Chaos soft violence restlessness dissolution

Concord mystery beauty revelation change,

My blood singing back to the singing waters.

 

Furious machines burning anger, fume and

Rage to the choke point, ferocity of sound,

From here all silence and twinkle, sweeping

Slow rise and fall, rust blistered blue towers,

Harp-strung, Buddha serene, light and heavy,

A mountain of stone and steel engineered to

Rise like thought and dance in the delicate air.

 

Spring has uncorked all her bottles, pours her

Sparkling vintage into the coupe of May with

A liberal hand. Winter’s damp gloom is swept

From the vaulting sea and a convoy of cloud

Blusters at full sail. I will fill my pockets with

Rubies and expectations, book passage on a

Perfect merchantman and trade with heaven.

Peter McEllhenney’s work has appeared in the Seminary Ridge Review, Referential Magazine, Blast Furnace, the Apeiron Review, and previously in Philadelphia Stories. His poetry was part of the 2015 R.S. Thomas Literary Festival in Aberdaron, Wales. He blogs at PeterGalenMassey.com.