The Elements

 for Delaware City Oil Refinery

 

From here I promise you will see it all —

 

those clusters of towers

their various diameters and heights

lifted into cloud-clotted sky

 

bespeckled by summer sun

grounded by a low plinth

composed of wide shallow domes

 

grounded by marshes clotted with nests and lairs

clusters of golden phragmites

rising up there

 

then water, lapping

where eels unscroll, abiding in the dark patches

on their way to the Sargasso Sea

 

not a sea as you’d imagine it, just

the ragged floating place they dream of —

 

a falling sequence of materials

from solid to liquid to gas, a game

of animal vegetable mineral —

 

old cast-iron composed of scraps of dying stars

grounded by a burning fall

torn caterwauling out of the ground

 

casting fire and steam into that floating sky

while within, the compression of life forms —

fern bones and beetle wings from long ago

 

transformed to gasoline and other gases, or lighter fuel

diesel laced with hydrogen, or propane —

gases, liquids, steam, fire — fluid forms

 

in drifted tatters lapped by sky and water

smithereens unfurled, swarming

toward some remembered place.


Anne Yarbrough’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Delmarva Review, and Gargoyle. She lives along the lower Delaware River.

The Color Absence

The color absence is yellow and blood

red, bones of glass shattered on the floor

with no broom or dustpan in line of sight.

 

Did you see me walking the other day?

I was delivering you in the flex of my arms,

sleeves folded back to conceal the rips

 

of laughter. I wonder if you still hold

the last words you spoke to me in your

pocket like a brand new set of car keys.

 

Don’t you worry that I forgot my jacket

in the freezing cold rain? Or maybe the wind

rubs its hands together on the front porch

 

waiting to come back inside. The color

absence glazes its palette in the summer

fallow, knocking sugar skulls against pine

 

doors, brittle to the touch and slapped with

salt water. If endings spring forth like a geyser,

then let me catch the steam on the way down.


Ezra Solway writes in Philadelphia where he received an MFA in Creative Writing at Temple University this past spring. His writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured in The Jewish Literary Journal, North of Oxford, and Small Leaf Press, among others. You can follow his writings on twitter at @SolwayEzra

What Our Fathers Didn’t Tell Us About the War

To read What Our Fathers Didn’t Tell Us About the War, click HERE.


Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

Dear Renee

We used to sit together every day, the dusty bus, those long dirt roads.

Your father, old when he was young, hobbling to the barn at milking time.

My sister keeps embroidered pillows in the closet with her holidays, hums

all through the house, long and slow. Are you that kind of woman now?

Renee, my dumb heart cannot remember If I ever played with you in school

or if I left you by the swings for those girls who only let me be the monkey.

 

Did I forget you, your long braids in that wet field of grass? I was the one

who swallowed all the knives, key tied round my neck with a grey ribbon.

Today, I brought out the flour bowl and rolling pin, the salt and baking powder.

Habit you’d do without. Kitchen quiet, emptying, its low deliberate light.

Renee, I didn’t use the wheelbarrow. Nor stripped the chicken from the bone.

Can you understand my lumbering, my rusty hands?  Do you miss our home?


Ellen Stone grew up in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania.  She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ellen’s poetry collections are What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013.)  ellenstone.org.

Just Before

In a hospital room

I stand next to your son,

watching you drift

in and out of consciousness.

I give you flowers,

their stems clipped.

You drop them in a pan

of shallow water.

 

Outside, I can see the bus station

near the last stop on the subway line.

 

Remember when you moved to Mount Airy,

on the second floor? We talked all night

about politics. Then Watergate broke, and

you foresaw that Nixon would fall.

You always drove me home

pounding your palms on the steering wheel.

 

Kamal takes a napkin and wipes your mouth—

“Are you hungry Mom, do you want a drink?”—

while I keep asking if you know my name.

You raise yourself and say it once,

just before you fall back.


Since 1990, Robert Coles has published over one hundred poems in various literary journals, anthologies, and magazines. His most recent poems have appeared in Peregrine (Spring 2017), Mudfish (vol. 20, 2018/vol. 21, 2020/vol. 22, 2021), and Cura Magazine (Fordham University, Spring 2019).

Freeze All Blue & Black

Should I just leave you in this frozen night

since you’re no help? Go there and plop that heart

in the gut bucket. We’ve packed the fridge tight

with cabin food already, so for the parts

we’ll keep, we’ll pack some snow on them. Your deer

should make decent venison jerky. Look,

it’s just dead meat. There is nothing to fear

about a dressed deer. Now, down past the brook,

Dad leaves the organs deep in the thickets

and then he wipes the blood off his hands.

Here’s his rag for that. Take that gut bucket

then go dump it in the snow like a man.

But that heart, I always chuck it far back

where it can wait for spring all blue and black.


Having grown up in Chester County and worked in Philadelphia, Andrew Weller has a deep connection with Eastern Pennsylvania. He just graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Masters and Bachelor’s in English. He continues to write in his spare time while starting his career as a technical writer.

The Time on Dali’s Watch

To view The Time on Dali’s Watch, click HERE.


Nick Cialini lives in Lancster, PA where he teaches literature and is a PhD candidate at Temple University. He adheres to Joy Harjo’s principle that “life begins at the kitchen table” by sharing food and games with those who matter most to him. This is his first poetry publication.

Summer’s End

Don’t talk about them.

Don’t talk about that family at the end of the street, don’t talk about the house with the woods beside it.

Just ignore them, and don’t talk about them.

And they didn’t really talk about the grass that always grew too long. Nor the disarrayed wooden front porch, which rotted away a little more with each season. Nor the tattered screen door, hanging limply on by its rusted hinges.

They didn’t talk about the boy who lived there, nor the two girls, and how they seemed to vanish each time a neighbor came much closer than the sidewalk.

They didn’t talk about the odd clothes those kids wore, like hand-me-downs, both too big and too small and mismatched from shirts to sneakers.

The closest they ever got to saying anything at all was a Sunday morning, where they had stopped by the woods to strip some bark from the loose branches, to play swords in a backyard.

One of the boys nudged another and breathed as quietly as he could, “look.”

They watched as the father and son got into the front seats of the tan-brown station wagon and the mother and teenage daughters into the backseats. The car drove up the gravel path and past them as they watched, gawking awkwardly from the corner.

The car drove away down the street and turned out of sight.

The neighborhood went quiet. It remained quiet for some time. And for that strange amount of time, the boys seemed just to wait, as though the scene had not entirely ended, as though the other shoe would soon drop.

Something sodden seemed to form over them, inarticulate and heavy. They stopped playing.

And after the short time had passed for waiting, they quietly threw down the sticks among the trees’ roots and picked up their bikes where they had left them. Without speaking, they began to walk home.

“Did you see their faces?” one of the boys asked after they had walked past a few houses.

“My mom says not to talk about them.”

“Yeah, that’s probably right.” A pause came, and then went. “But did you see their faces?”

“No. I don’t know.”

“Why did that boy sit in the front seat?”

“I don’t know. We shouldn’t talk about it anymore.”

“Yeah, I guess.” They quietly walked on for a bit. “Has your older sister ever let you have the front seat? – And he didn’t look any older than us. And – Why did their mom sit in the back seat?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it.”

The neighborhood fell quiet again.

The tread of the bike tires purred on the street as they walked back home. It felt like the only noise in the entire neighborhood – or the entire world.

A breeze passed, but it was not cool, and they passed under the shadow of one of the cedars.

Soon, very soon, the summer would end, and they would go away again – away from here, away to school, away from childhood – and these strange and quiet moments would fade.

“I mean–did you see their faces?”


Isaac W Sauer is a writer and poet currently working as an investment analyst in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Eastern University, studying literature, politics, and philosophy.

DAD, BECAUSE YOU MADE ME DESTROYER OF WORLDS, YOURS, TOO

Editors’ Choice: 2021 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

To you, connoisseur of cave mushrooms,
imperious orderer of the underground,

when you finally shuffle out from your hidey-hole
into the clean random dark
and look up in desperation again after a turn of stale seasons;
to you, gruff reactionary; to you, bigot;

the night will read as though
I, devilishly,
will have collected with the left hand
a swath of stars
and shaken them out again from between thumb and forefinger
familiarly, both too brilliant and made too strange.


Judd Hess holds an MFA and an MA from Chapman University. He won the 2014 Fugue Poetry Prize, the 2011 John Fowles Creative Writing Prize for Poetry, the 2009 Ellipsis Prize, has been a finalist for several other awards, and was nominated for the 2013 Pushcart Prize.

Warning, Do Not Eat Your Fortune: 40 Dating Reminders Every Woman Over 40+ Needs to Hear Now!

Editors’ Choice: 2021 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

1.      You are not a ghost.
2.      Welcome the change coming into your life.
3.      The world may be your oyster, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get its pearl.
4.      You must try, or hate yourself for not trying.
5.      Birds are entangled by their feet and men by their tongues.
6.      Land is always in the mind of flying birds.
7.      Nothing is as good or bad as it appears.
8.      Benefit by doing things that others give up on.
9.      Alas! The onion you are eating is someone else’s water lily.
10.     In case of fire, keep calm, pay bill and run.
11.      A man without aim is like a clock without hands, as useless if it turns as if it stands.
12.     You are often asked if it is in yet.
13.     Try everything once, even the things you don’t think you will like.
14.     Bend the rod while it is still hot.
15.     You learn from your mistakes, you will learn a lot today.
16.     Never cut what you can untie.
17.     Remember this: duct tape can fix anything, so don’t worry about messing things up.
18.     Finish your work on hand, don’t be greedy.
19.     Happiness is often a rebound from hard work.
20.     If your desires are not extravagant, they will be rewarded.
21.     Your tongue is your ambassador.
22.     Hard words break no bones, fine words butter no parsnips.
23.     Your mouth may be moving, but nobody is listening.
24.     Think of mother’s exhortations more:
25.     Don’t worry, half the people you know are below average.
26.     “Accept yourself.”
27.     If everyone is a worm, you should be a glow worm.
28.     It’s tough to be fascinating.
29.     Sometimes you just need to lay on the floor.
30.     The quotes that you do not understand are not meant for you.
31.      Today is an ideal time to water your personal garden.
32.     Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
33.     The secret of staying young is good health and lying about your age.
34.     Take the chance while you still have the choice.
35.     Being alone and being lonely are two different things.
36.     Some dream of fortunes, others dream of cookies.
37.     Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.
38.     Next time you have the opportunity, go on a rollercoaster.
39.     When all else seems to fail, smile for today, and just love someone.
40.     If you eat a box of fortune cookies, anything is possible.

This cento is comprised of lines borrowed from Fortune Cookie Message: http://www.fortunecookiemessage.com/archive*


S. Erin Batiste is an interdisciplinary poet and author of Glory to All Fleeting Things. In 2021 she is the recipient of PERIPLUS, Jack Straw Writers, and the dots between fellowships, and is a Writer in Residence at Prairie Ronde and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. Batiste is a reader for The Rumpus and her own Pushcart nominated poems are anthologized and appear internationally in Michigan Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, and wildness among other decorated journals.