Once Each Year We’d See Them Dance

Robert Fillman

on their anniversary

to a song from the forties,

sisters singing harmonies,

horn pops, a muted-trumpet

or clarinet soloist,

the television turned off,

he in his bed shirt, laughing,

she in her nightgown, bare arm

softly draped around his back,

the other arm letting him

take the lead for once, hands clasped,

turning slowly in circles

lumbering to the downbeat,

tipping over as they turned,

usually by accident,

laughing as the circle grew

more wild and uncircle like,

bumping into TV trays,

inching closer to the bed

in the middle of the room,

laughing as if we weren’t

there to watch the performance,

their faces shining with glee,

enough happiness to last

them another whole, sad year

of insults and bickering. 

Robert Fillman is a Ph.D. candidate and Teaching Fellow at Lehigh University, where he also edits the university’s literary magazine, Amaranth, and runs the Drown Writers Series. He was named the judge of the George S. Diamond Poetry Prize by Moravian College for the 2015-2016 academic year, and has been featured as a “Showcase Poet” in the Aurorean. Recently, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apeiron Review, The Chiron Review, The Common Ground Review, Glassworks, Kudzu House QuarterlySpillway, Third Wednesday, and others. He lives in eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and his two children, Emma and Robbie.

Aquaria

Ruth Rouff

I had this idea I would

write about the

old aquarium in Camden,

not the new. The old one

had indigenous fish

that live in the slate grey

waters off New Jersey–

the kind few deigned

to see.

 

That is why they renovated

the place. Set aside or killed

the flounder and bass  and

bluefish you might just

as soon find on

a dinner plate as

in a tank and

replaced them

with tropicals:

floating mosaics from

a Byzantine ceiling.

 

These are the creatures

people pay to see.

Now the turnstiles

are humming and I

find myself viewing

delicate beauties,

as well as sharks

swimming

overhead, ram-

bunctious penguins,

and one lone

alligator lying in a

tiled tank, waiting, as

we all are, for something

 

good.

Ruth Rouff is an English instructor and educational writer living in Collingswood, NJ. In addition to being published in a number of literary journals, she has written two young adult nonfiction books.  Her poetry/creative nonfiction collection Pagan Heaven will appear this November.

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.

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.

Once Each Year We’d See Them Dance

Robert Fillman

on their anniversary

to a song from the forties,

sisters singing harmonies,

horn pops, a muted-trumpet

or clarinet soloist,

the television turned off,

he in his bed shirt, laughing,

she in her nightgown, bare arm

softly draped around his back,

the other arm letting him

take the lead for once, hands clasped,

turning slowly in circles

lumbering to the downbeat,

tipping over as they turned,

usually by accident,

laughing as the circle grew

more wild and uncircle like,

bumping into TV trays,

inching closer to the bed

in the middle of the room,

laughing as if we weren’t

there to watch the performance,

their faces shining with glee,

enough happiness to last

them another whole, sad year

of insults and bickering.

 


Robert Fillman is a Ph.D. candidate and Teaching Fellow at Lehigh University, where he also edits the university’s literary magazine, Amaranth, and runs the Drown Writers Series. He was named the judge of the George S. Diamond Poetry Prize by Moravian College for the 2015-2016 academic year, and has been featured as a “Showcase Poet” in the Aurorean. Recently, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apeiron Review, The Chiron Review, The Common Ground Review, Glassworks, Kudzu House Quarterly, Spillway, Third Wednesday, and others. He lives in eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and his two children, Emma and Robbie.

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.”

Aquaria

Ruth Rouff

I had this idea I would

write about the

old aquarium in Camden,

not the new. The old one

had indigenous fish

that live in the slate grey

waters off New Jersey–

the kind few deigned

to see.

 

That is why they renovated

the place. Set aside or killed

the flounder and bass  and

bluefish you might just

as soon find on

a dinner plate as

in a tank and

replaced them

with tropicals:

floating mosaics from

a Byzantine ceiling.

 

These are the creatures

people pay to see.

Now the turnstiles

are humming and I

find myself viewing

delicate beauties,

as well as sharks

swimming

overhead, ram-

bunctious penguins,

and one lone

alligator lying in a

tiled tank, waiting, as

we all are, for something

 

good.

 


Ruth Rouff is an English instructor and educational writer living in Collingswood, NJ. In addition to being published in a number of literary journals, she has written two young adult nonfiction books. Her poetry/creative nonfiction collection Pagan Heaven will appear this November.

The Fight

Fabi

Down in the shoebox

it’s summer. The bonsai trees

are arranged at random, their stubs

stuck with hot glue. I’ve cut the cardboard

windows open with an exact-o knife

to let the light in, a quick

spritz of Febreeze showering

down on us. At our corkscrew

table, you are dense

like a bear, the chair underneath you tilted

and stained a tinted pink

from popsicles. I raise your

clay elbow and close your fist

around a Blue Moon, the foam I make

overflow with cotton. I leave my wiry

back to you, chopping bits of real orange

slices at the counter, the knife

just an extension of my arm.

Is that our apartment? you say

as I swing around

to find you, leaning

against the doorway. You kneel

next to me, eyes

aligning with our bedroom window.

It’s not, I say, believing it.

The Black American Gets Her Travel Fellowship and Goes Abroad

Irène Mathieu

I. an exercise:

 

the positionality of placeholders

                                                   there is something that wants to be said

                                                   there is something that wants to be said

                                                   there is something that wants to be said

there is something

that wants the dark birth

of words.

she is on a line

the passport holds her up

little blue woven book

little blue book

little blue

little

she

the empire machine is dreaming. the empire machine rolls over. the empire machine wakes up. the empire machine stretches. the empire machine does not have a lover. the empire machine makes coffee. the empire machine goes to work.

 

II.

I promise you,

that girl she looked

just like my sister

cousin daughter

niece comadre

you know –

la morena

who lives next

to the colmado

that always smells

of raw meat and

plátanos.

 

III. what she says:

 

one day I dream myself

on the outside of a flying plane.

I grip a rope twisted through

a loop on the wing, and the

wind scoops everything

out of my mouth.

 

inside my bones an unborn

old woman is stretching and dancing.

my skin feels too tight.

 

I return

swallowing Spanish.

Border Control squints

interrogates

x-rays

finally says

welcome home.

 

I am overflowing

and the taxi driver sees.

ah, you miss your country?

his eyes are soft.

I cannot speak.

(and regarding a bra Made In ______)

I wonder what woman with

a transatlantic face like mine

has worked calluses into her

fingers for the comfort of

nude-colored breasts. nude

being khaki, as in fatigues

or nude being cream, as in

of the crop.

 

try wearing:

a river

barbed wire

gold

black

dried blood

a harvest

lost languages

a seam

I mean a border

and how will you find

your way home?

and how will you find?

and how?

will you find?

and you how?

how will you?

how you?

how you.

home will find

you and how.


Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and author of the poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press). Her poetry, prose, and photography can be found in The Caribbean Writer, The Lindenwood Review, Muzzle Magazine, qarrtsiluni, Extract(s), Diverse Voices Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Callaloo Journal, HEArt Journal, and elsewhere. She has been a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Callaloo fellow, a Fulbright scholar, and currently is an editor of the humanities section of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Irène is the 2016 winner of the Bob Kaufman Poetry Prize; her first full-length collection entitled orogeny will be published by Trembling Pillow Press in 2016.