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.

Semantics of The Dead and Living

Patrick Swaney

We drive up to the graveyard

on the hill toward the top

of town just to see the evening

sun. “I don’t think people

call them graveyards anymore,”

you say. You say, “I think

a graveyard is part of a church.

People buried in the yard

of a church.” I suppose you’re right.

This is not a church, but it’s not

without ritual. We drive up

to the cemetery filled with

graves on the hill toward

the top of town. A new section

has been cleared of trees,

a toothless pocket ready

to be filled. We park and

pretend the sun will set beyond

the ridges spilled with green

into the ocean instead of more

Midwest. Turkey vultures circle

in the pines, their shifting like

a sail’s dry flap in a falling wind.

Below we watch three deer leap

headstones and then open space

making for the redrawn edge

of the cemetery separating something

from something from something.

Patrick Swaney lives in Athens, OH, where is completing a PhD in poetry. He is the editor of Quarter After Eight. His work has appeared in Conduit, Indiana Review, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere.

Considering Need

Shevaun Brannigan

Two domesticated parakeets will find each other

in the wild forest, the bell becomes unnecessary,

the mirror. Considering need, that binding honey, one

feels the cage bottom deep within her. Further,

 

so she might crack a seed open in her beak, for him,

the husk falling to the forest floor; so an unpredictable

sway in the branch, something leaps: the old

 

She remembers it dark like an eye. Blood-tinged

feathers can be covered by one newspaper sheet:

a sale, she saw, on mattresses. I know

bearing witness doesn’t stop the days

from going on. A lifetime ago, when

 

I held birds on our deck to free them from

an unsafe house, and my hands were small,

I knew the feel of wings.


Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at The University of Maryland. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Best New Poets 2012, Rhino, Court Green, and Crab Orchard Review. She is the first place recipient of the 2015 Jan-ai Scholarship through the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway, and a 2015 recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grant.

The Weight and Dimensions of my Prayers: Honorable Mention, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Irène Mathieu

prayers of lead
prayers of limestone and pages for

 

women’s bodies piled on the side of the freeway, no one rubbernecking.

women’s bodies filling art museums, blocking the paintings.

women’s bodies packing school buses, a whole yellow swarm.

women’s bodies lying in every pew of every cathedral in France

 

no one singing hymns of their hair, psalms of their palms

their multicolored skins painted in stained glass patches.

every wreck of a shadowed sister thumbs me deeper

into a pile of dust.

 

what is a woman’s body?

it cannot fit into any room:

the thousand sparks in my feet.

shipwrecks. kisses. whiskey.

soldered melodies. soldiered acquiescences.

brimming frivolities of vital importance.

turns at every turn. paper and strings. stone.

 

the first time I found salvation it was

in a library, on my knees bent before the spines

of books. before I knew the weight and dimensions

of my prayers I imagined them as nebulous supernovae

trembling toward gravities.

 

this is without having seen the

women’s bodies, feet to heads, lining dead cotton fields.

women’s bodies filling the cellars of every New England home built before 1950.

women’s bodies in the parking lots of fast food restaurants.

women’s bodies in the basement warehouses of office buildings.

women’s bodies carpeting the floor of the Atlantic, undulating softly forever.

 

I broke a thumb and a pinky finger once.

they were splinted and fretted over, so that I never

guessed my body could be broken and tossed onto a pile

of women’s bodies that no one recognized. so when I

recognized kneecaps and collarbones I began to pray,

asking the center of the Earth to put our pieces back together.

 

women’s bodies choking up the space under bridges.

women’s bodies packed vertically in vacant lots.

women’s bodies folded efficiently into plywood crates.

women’s bodies curled around cacti, all dried sockets and clothing of dust.

women’s bodies sleeping their un-sleep in the beds of eighteen-wheelers.

women’s bodies clogging construction sites, bones lined along naked beams.

women’s bodies tangled in mountains of dirt and abandoned machetes.

 

when you rise from peaceful storied oblivion and

realize your spine can be hunted and broken and no one

really needs the under-floorboard or trash bag or ditch

that will contain your woman’s body, you become unspeakably

sad. you might start preemptively disintegrating.

 

you had better have a story sewn into the lining of your jacket

when they come for your body. and if that doesn’t save you,

you had better have another body, preferably not a woman’s

 


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.