Black Diamonds and Pearls

He tells me of days when even dreams can’t wriggle free.

I see him struggle to hold
the laughing child

once alive inside him,
watch him strain to remember
how beautiful it can feel to be gentle.

There are walls and there are walls,

and now I only see him through gun-proof double-thick glass,
in this place where chained hearts steadily drip
onto already stained concrete floors,
and I don’t waste time telling him

I miss him. I find ways to smile,
even manage to drag an actual laugh through his
ragged lips, and his fingers

aren’t too torn
when they line up mirror-image of mine. He worries, you see,
that I will let go of even this, and I can offer no reassurance

for that same fear has already seized
my own broken heart.

As a mixed-race child of the 80s, Martin Wiley grew up confronting and embracing a world that was as jumbled and confused as he was. His current work attempts to examine what it was to search for manhood in that time and place. For the past few years he had labeled himself a “recovering poet,” but his children’s love of words has dragged him, mostly happily, off the wagon. After receiving his MFA from Rutgers-Camden, he remained in Philadelphia, working at Project HOME, being a dad and husband, and finding time, when possible, to write.

Tea Scars

To read “Tea Scars,” click HERE.

Mariah Ghant (she/her) is a Black woman artist based out of Philly. An alumnus of Vassar College, she studied Drama and English focusing on Acting and Poetry Writing. Mariah’s work has been featured in three print publications with Z Publishing, as well as online with Distance Yearning, Lucky Jefferson, MixedMag, and Passengers Journal. Forever fantasizing on the phenomenal, Mariah’s writing explores relationships, identity, and the cosmos. Visit her poetry Instagram @mariah.g.poetry or check out her artist website,

Answer a Poem with a Poem

Among the things I dislike so much about our national political discourse, in the news as well as on social media (maybe especially on social media) is the lack of introspection and the ignorance of nuance. Pundits, politicians, trolls, and neighbors are quick to attack each other without thoughtfully probing their own motivations.

Luckily we have poets. Imagine what political debates, or just regular conversations, would be like if they were done in poetry? We actually have a good example of what that would be like in the form of Shakespeare’s plays, but don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to talk to your neighbors in blank verse.

Instead I want to talk about the tradition of poets responding to other poets in poems. One of the most well known is Sir Walter Raleigh’s poem The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, which is a response to Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.

Writing response poems is a good practice for several reasons. First, it forces you to look closely at the tools, including the quality of the metaphors and references, the poet uses to make their point. Second, with a starting point essentially created for you, it eases you over that first hump of a blank page that can give writers so much trouble. Third, it’s fun.  Look at how Denise Levertov uses, and even subverts (though they actually agree on the main matter), the title of Willam Wordsworth’s poem The World is Too Much With Us.

O Taste and See

By Denise Levertov


The world is

Not with us enough.

O taste and see


the subway Bible poster said,

meaning The Lord, meaning

if anything all that lives

to the imagination’s tongue,


grief, mercy, language,

tangerine, weather, to

breathe them, bite,

savor, chew, swallow, transform


into our flesh our

deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,

living in the orchard and being


hungry, and plucking

the fruit.

Try a response poem yourself, and if possible, incorporate a line or title from the original poem in your own poem. It’s easier to do if you start with a poem that makes bold or clear statements, such as Maggie Smith’s Good Bones,  Archibarld Macleish’s Ars Poetica, or William Carlos Williams’ This is Just to Say.


Grant Clauser is the author of five books including Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Prize), Reckless Constellations, and The Magicians Handbook. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, The Literary Review and others. He works as an editor and teaches at Rosemont College.

ONLINE BONUS: The Thunderstorm

After slaughtering the moon and stars

The storm stills.


The night piles up like black angora

Then sleeps.


Summer’s crickets come to trill

And I rest into the blackness

And write this poem

To still my body from that storm

Nowhere to be found now

But in me.

Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming.


Ghosts have a way of knowing where all the keys are hidden. –   William Evans


As though we, the living, are locks.

Or doors with locks.


Or small latched boxes,

lacquered or decoupaged with pansies,


or scorched like the unpainted dime store kind

you tried to inscribe with your name


with a neighbor kid’s wood burning kit,

all of them with a tiny hasp


and padlock worked by a thin gold key

that even a ghost could lose.


As though there are ghosts, real ones,

not simply regret.


As though regret were simple.

As though it were made complicated only


by our intricate tricks for containing

the ghosts of what we can’t let go,


but grieve and grieve and grieve over,

as though we were not the lock,


the latch, the lid, the door, not the rue,

not the sorrow, not the ghost with the key.

Hayden Saunier’s books of poetry include How to Wear This Body, Say Luck, Tips for Domestic Travel, and Field Trip to the Underworld.  Her new book of poetry, A Cartography of Home is due out in early 2021.  (


this is not what you thought you’d be reading

and honestly it’s not what I thought I would be writing

either, but this makes us allies, companions

in an unknown landscape, like students moved midyear

to a new school— cue up the cafeteria humiliation reel,

light the cheek’s fierce burn that sends hot sparks

to pock holes in the tiny hope chests tucked inside

our preteen hearts and most of us are still packing

some of that sorrow. The story we thought this might

be telling with its breadcrumb trail has slunk down

at the loser table to foot funk level in a plastic seat

with corroded chair legs, or better yet, it turned tail

and ran before even walking into the room

like we wish we had done instead of trying to sashay

across the page in the wrong clothes wearing

the cheap perfume of fake it till you make it like it’s

the kind of story that never sat alone at a table

pretending it didn’t want to die, but that story

and that story’s lie is long gone. So we begin again.

Each day. And look, whatever we didn’t think

this would be has been taking shape beneath our faces,

kneading its own dough, punching it down, letting it rise,

checking the oven, and now warm brown loaves

cool on a windowsill like in a book of fairy tales,

curls of steam lifting from their dark aromatic crusts,

delicious, whole wheat, gluten-free, or however

you need it, bread to pass between us in a story

we didn’t know would have a kitchen or windowsill

or cupboard where you find butter and I find

strawberry preserves, or a table where we sit down

together, take out our hidden knives, use them to spread

these slices, smooth the sweet jam, share the bread.

Hayden Saunier’s books of poetry include How to Wear This Body, Say Luck, Tips for Domestic Travel, and Field Trip to the Underworld.  Her new book of poetry, A Cartography of Home is due out in early 2021.  (

(cape may)

like scraps of paper

folding themselves into birds

the sea gulls settle


the shimmering light

on the water at sunset

keeps its promises

Peter McEllhenney is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA. His work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, the Seminary Ridge Review, and others. He blogs occasionally at

full sun

To view full sun by Tyler Campbell, click HERE.

Tyler Campbell is an artist outside of Atlantic City. He enjoys making tiny pancakes for many friends.

goode for who

To view goode for who by Edythe Rodriguez, click HERE.

Edythe Rodriguez is a Philly-based Afrikan Renaissance poet who studied Creative Writing and Africology at Temple University. Her work is published or forthcoming in Tulane Review, Sonku Literary Magazine, Call and Response Journal and Bayou Magazine.