Bless Amtrak

for their quiet cars, no raised voices, no phone calls
all devices muted or used with headphones
but how about a party car blasting Chili Peppers
passengers dancing with strangers
they sneak off with at the next stop

what of a weapons car where macho men
with shaved heads and skull tattoos
can flaunt their gun obsession disorder
while the rest of us are spared the sight
of a Glock 19 or an AK-47

or maybe a widows’ car, Kleenex at every seat
where you don’t have to explain
smeared eye shadow, mismatched socks
or the strange sounds escaping your mouth
a moan, a sigh, a sob, a shriek

and no one stares

Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.


I was stationed near Biloxi, Mississippi,
before the time of Martin Luther King.
One night I went to a restaurant
with some white guys from South Philly,
but the man told us go around back.
And if we got stopped by the police,
forget about comin’ home.
You asked me why I wear this uniform.
Because it’s the way I get respect
from those ladies sitting over there
who think I’m some kind of general.
They talk to me when I bring them gifts,
just like the young men do.
I spend my days at this coffee shop.
People think I’m important.
I give them advice or conversation
or money when I’m not broke.

Robert Coles has lived in and around Philadelphia most of his life. He writes, “Since 1990, I have published over one hundred poems in various literary journals, anthologies, and magazines. My most recent poems have appeared in the summer issue of Philadelphia Stories, 2021, and I placed as a semifinalist in the 26th Macguffin Poet Hunt Contest, 2021.”

My Father and His Sky

Lead foot in a Lincoln, nothing stops an object
so completely in motion.

My father has seen cornfields bigger than
the sheeted sea of my bed,

vast as ever, vaster without him.

He used to sit on the edge of my bed
and talk about the sky.

He’d throw constellations like pop-flies
through the windows,

stipple clouds with his swollen hands.

Children listen to sky stories as long
as they end in sunrises.

I didn’t beg the curtain of dawn from
his grinning mouth—

I wanted something newer than mornings.

My father isn’t new anymore but his car is,
black and big-rimmed.

He rattles a century of coins across

shaking them loose every mile.

I watch him in the curve of the Earth now,
a flickering corona.

He is the reaching horizon or someone
reaching for the horizon,

loosed by the wind and a rest-stop coffee.

I think he might still sing with the radio
like the leather seat is me.


I think he hears the hills sing their mappings
in return, their topography,

the echo of blue dreams in the brush.

Men can fly in the open like this,
wingtips splayed.

They tell as many stories of the sky
as the hot asphalt

is willing to listen to.

Dina Folgia is an MFA candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was an honorable mention for the 2021 Penrose Poetry Prize, and a 2020 AWP Intro Journals Project nominee. Her Her work, which has been nominated for Best of the Net and the AWP Intro Journals Project, has appeared in Ninth Letter, Dunes Review, Stonecoast Review, Sidereal Magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, and others. She is a poetry reader for Blackbird and Storm Cellar. Keep up with her work at

Baby Long Legs

I mourn two feet of hair so I arrange ragweed
in a halo until I start sneezing. Sometimes I call
myself Bulb Queen, sovereign burr-catcher,
playing house in the phlox like a big girl.
Sunlight arrives on Earth at 100 decibels
but still slips through spring leaves silent.
There’s a chalk line around a corpse
in my yard that still hasn’t been identified.
There’s a seed pod too, hanging from a sprout
and it’s probably better I lost sight of it
or I might have wanted to pluck it again.
Would you believe me if I told you that
daddy long legs aren’t spiders? Don’t ask
me what they are because I might say aphids,
round in the center, wreathed in knees, could
spin in a circle without moving their head.
If I thought I could stand the tickling I would
smear my scalp opilionid, something finally
living, ouroboros as head eating leg eating leg
eating leg. I don’t need to be a spider. Anything
can throw a web even without silk glands, even
if tripping over joints and wayward grasses seems
like the only thing left to do. I could cocoon
if I wanted. I could suck the water from my chest
until I’m nothing but leg. I could eat my skin,
huskicide, dry like irises once bulbous, now
crisped in the shape of paper-thin wings,
translucent. I could dehydrate, too.

Dina Folgia is an MFA candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was an honorable mention for the 2021 Penrose Poetry Prize, and a 2020 AWP Intro Journals Project nominee. Her Her work, which has been nominated for Best of the Net and the AWP Intro Journals Project, has appeared in Ninth Letter, Dunes Review, Stonecoast Review, Sidereal Magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, and others. She is a poetry reader for Blackbird and Storm Cellar. Keep up with her work at


The Jewel of Berks County

There are ten categories of competitive yodeling.

When I ask why, she purses her lips.

If it has to be said at all, she wants it yodeled.

Dot is dot.

She’s a daughter of the dotters of wisdom

and winner of the Under Twenty Hill to Hill.


Her voice carries all the way

to Lyons from Blue Mountain Motors,

where she’s bending over the hood,

leaning in, yodeling to the engine

in her polka-dot Capris,

the Jewel of Berks County,

trying to get the old Dodge tuned.


Even now, as far off as Macungie,

old men on benches reading children’s books

with very hard eyes and almost no lips,

on hearing her voice look up

and press their tongues to gums for spit,

bracing themselves for the eleventh yodel—

part rescue and part lift,

part egress and part crypt,

part substance and part mist and itch.


And when I dream I’m Paul Cezanne,

a poor man who’s overspent on wallpaper

with no way to make ends meet,

her voice is there to comfort me.

Listen, she says.

With two large fries from Sheetz,

one for now and one as needed,

you can forget about l’Orangerie

and picnic baskets along the Seine.

La Santé has actual food fights

with Apollinaire and the Algerians,

with Jean Genet and Paul Verlaine.

Ken Fifer‘s poetry collections include After Fire (March Street Press) and Falling Man (Ithaca House). His poems have appeared in Philadelphia Stories, Barrow Street, Epoch, New Letters, Ploughshares, and The Literary Review. He has a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from The University of Michigan.


& now I’m google searching something like

good songs to recommend for someone trying to kick


heroin & clearing the oldest iPhone I have, deleting

my past life photo by photo, stopping at the one you sent me


when you had your first baby & I was at the Kimmel

listening to a live jazz band with Alex, & your son,


he was all tubes & wrinkled, so I kept the picture

to myself. he will be three in April & it feels like he should be


younger. the internet keeps recommending the same song,

some same stale drama, so I play it once, again,


but it’s all puppets

with their strings visible, like,


we’re on two street & you’re

pulling on my pocket & you’re asking


for the flask & I don’t even remember telling you

that I brought one.


my dad’s dad hated the mummers.

he called them feather merchants.


everything feels like giving up.

let’s steal a rifle & pick off the next


& then the next planet’s moons one by one

until we’re even, until it’s simple or simple again.


I really thought we had a chance this time.

I just had that feeling—you know?

Kimberly Ann Southwick is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey and currently an Assistant Professor at Jacksonville State University. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of the literary journal Gigantic Sequins. Her full-length poetry collection, Orchid Alpha, is forthcoming from Trembling Pillow Press. Find her on twitter tweeting about being a Philadelphia Eagles fan: @kimannjosouth.



Your words sound like my grandmother’s now

she speaks with her dead voice from your vocal cords


the sharp vowels try to pin my conscience

strong consonants devalue my power

the words themselves leak resin—


wife and children—escape her teeth

trying to catch me she cannot understand

I don’t want either


Her pyramid-scheme

of love is ancient. She drives to me


with prayer and I turn her away with fire.

John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Silver Blade Magazine and New Reader Magazine. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.


I wanted to grieve

but the garden

was in such a good mood

and the bubbly

blue sky

kept calling C’mon! C’mon!

and I swear

the wind lifted me

like a toddler

onto the burning back

of the sun

galloping in such

a wild and

unbroken way

that not once

did I think of

my mother’s ashes.

Andy Macera has received awards from Plainsongs, Mad Poets Review and Philadelphia Poets. His work has also appeared in Pearl, California Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Drunk Monkeys, Gyroscope Review, Straight Forward, Sierra Nevada Review, Old Red Kimono, Passager and other journals. He has lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania since 1998.


i wish the world would stop for me.

in its tracks, never felt such weight

gracefully crumble onto its palms.


i’ve added a couple of pounds

since i started walking the hypotenuse,

driving my life with triangular wheels.

what can i say—i came out of the womb horizontal.


how to lessen the weight?

starve yourself of these earthly pleasures.

shelter a cocoon and live and laugh all you want,

but wait until the world doesn’t glare anymore,


then the roads are open to rapture.

run as you will—lose more weight,

but swallow that impossible feeling.

it will be weightless gain.

full, impossible to hate again.

i swear i don’t miss the empty well,

where every sip of water is an echo in a spacious cave.


to be perfect is to cut skin and bone

and i no longer have to do so.

i am ever-molding surface no more.

my thinning love rhymes with pounds and mounds

and one day i’ll be loved and give love,

but still wonder if the jawline is sharp enough to cut.


when there is a way to measure how heavy,

learn to step down from the scale

and keep your worth (or weight) inside you.

after all, even a word sounding as nasty as rapture can mean bliss.

王潇 / Evan Wang is a 15-year-old poet from King of Prussia whose work has appeared in Juste Milieu, Bleeding Soul Poetry, The National Poetry Quarterly, etc. He is the recipient of the Youth Appreciation Award and a featured artist in the Our America Now festival. Evan is spellbound by the catharsis of the moving language and worships the pens of Savannah Brown and Ocean Vuong.

where something happens

how, at the trolley stop, we all have a common mountain.

morning like a tall pine the day starts with, strong and silent;


how heavy scarves and hats and gloves sleep

on our bones. that the silver tracks pull around the last stop,


by a wash-and-fold where something is always moving,

soap and water hiding the colors of soaked clothes.


how standing here is so easily understood: the patience

or impatience, the idleness of hands. how it’s acceptable


just to know you’re in the place where something happens,

where the route ends and then again, begins. it’s possible


to ride with spare coins, barely treasure, the range of it

like peaks and valleys: to creek or city, to streets and homes.


how the waiting here is a good thing, how everyone rushes

just to be in this, this very, this very happening place.

Rachel Betesh is a nurse and a gardener who writes poems – at a wooden desk in a 112-year-old house, with the window open. Her poetry has been featured in The New Yorker, long-listed for the 2022 emerging poet prize at Palette Poetry, and is forthcoming in Brink magazine. She rides the #13 trolley through Philadelphia.