Bensalem

You take Street Road back to the world,

pine needles fall nearby.

These places still exist, revisited

like a box of wilted baby pictures in a storage locker.

On a Sunday, you take Broad to Vine to I-95

and you take the exit to Pain and Mercy

and go to the places that kill you.

It all stands before you confident as ghosts.

320 Pine Court is still there and you drive slowly

and out of the passenger side window you see yourself

sprinting out the door

and you see yourself

walking behind Holly

over the pine needles

to the bus stop and the third grade

and your Oldsmobile is not where mom parked it

and a steakhouse replaces the woods you rode your bicycle through

and a wrought-iron gate keeps Street Road from Beech Court

and you want to call Kourtney Melendez and tell her she was the best friend you ever had

but you know that Cyprus and Spruce and Willow

are not to be revisited today.


Greg Probst is a teacher, writer, and filmmaker. He is the recipient of the Pam Perkins-Frederick Memorial Scholarship for the Marriage of Art and Poetry and the Dr. Allen Hoey Memorial Scholarship for Short Fiction. His writing has been featured in The Centurion, The Temple News, Hyphen, Rathalla Review, and through the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia. Probst is currently pursuing an MFA degree at Drexel University where he will be teaching first-year composition and creative writing.

Free postcard from the saint shrine

Deliciously dark confession

booths and big lightless

pupils with golden

grapes and dead guy

in a glass box. Everyone

so so still. So silent.

Backs of their heads

devotional. Guy restocks

the votives. Clink,

clink, the color glass.


Mary Zhou (they/she) is an artist based in Philadelphia. Their poetry is also forthcoming in Oversound and Philadelphia Poet Laureate Trapeta B. Mayson’s Healing Verse Poetry Line. Poetry, both read and written, has carried them through the last two years. You can find them online at marzhou.com.

’69 Mustang

To read ’69 Mustang by Joshua Barnes, click HERE.


Joshua Barnes was born and raised in Boyne City, Michigan, and is now a Philadelphia transplant with a career as a Nurse Manager. His poetry has previously appeared in Kairos Literary Magazine, The Bloom, and has been featured on the Lake County Arts Council website. He’s been a devoted comic book nerd since he was ten. When not writing or working, he can be found reading poetry and horror fiction, perfecting his handstands, or binge-watching Drag Race.

Kulikitaka

Dominicano soy!
Dominicano soy!
Dominicano soy
in a city of cold.

‘toy cruz’ao
in my heart.
My body, made of bark,
and hair of mango fibers
is rooted to the orderly lines
painted on perfect concrete.

Mi sangre de zapote
doesn’t move with
easy mountain river speed, here
in the
fluorescent white
banks of
fluoride streams.

No puedo bailar
como los arboles de palma en la brisa,
because in the mirror
I see a rigid oak tree
wearing a stiff shirt with tight collar—pero

Dominicano soy!
in the choking alleys
of montaña tall skyscrapers.

Dominicano soy!
barred outside the wide
finca de arroz bright
fashion avenues and high
art boutiques and white
spaces.

Dominican soy!
morenito con sol
in the cold.

Dominicano soy!
while American.


Michael Angelo Abreu is a leaf. He takes frequent walks through the Wissahickon woods, musing about life and its many particulars, such as love, happiness, suffering, and spiritual growth. These kaleidoscope ideas find themselves splashed across his poetry. Through his exploration of writing, he seeks not only to further develop his voice but also to obtain a deeper understanding of who or what he is.

Authors’ Tea

In school we learned that there are four types of sentences

classified by their purpose:

To tell, to command, to exclaim, to ask.

I decided that I would not make demands of the world—

even my statements lacked the confidence of a real person.

Even they were a kind of asking.

 

There’s always one crayon that won’t fit back in the box.

I learned to take up the least amount of space,

saving room for the others.

I wanted to erase myself like a misspelled word

rubbing the paper so hard it tears

leaving nothing behind but pink crumbs.

 

The teacher wanted our best work for the authors’ tea,

but I knew my writing was asking too much.

So I wrote a new story, one that was a little charming,

a little funny, but not a lot of anything.

I used as few words as possible

to shorten the length of my voice against the gnawing silence.

 

In my retelling, I stand as tall as an exclamation mark.

I look you all in the eyes and I ask you—

no, I command you

to place your hands on my shoulders, gently, and tell me that one day

I will learn to use my voice to put out fires,

and also, to start them.


Sarah Mills is a former English teacher who now works as a freelance writer and editor. Originally from Delaware, she received her bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of Delaware and her master’s in Literacy and TESOL from Wilmington University. Her poetry has appeared in Glass Mountain. She is currently writing a YA novel. You can visit her at sarahmillswrites.com.

The Night Diana Died – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

 

Was sticky in the streets & I wanted to linger

in the theater with the girls on the screen:

girls called girls for a reason: soft, tragic, funny,

swimming in sweaters that could last a lifetime,

like Diana’s black sheep knit the year she flirted with the horse guy.

But it was midnight. Time to blast our bodies

through the tunnel. That night I wanted to walk for hours

instead, not because the subway was hot

or crowded and certainly not unsafe, but because

it was one of those nights when the outside air

belongs inside and the inside, outside, and it appears

all our structures, even our cells, had failed their most basic function,

to keep the insides, inside, and the outside, out;

The way our rooms fail us now, a two-inch band of ants

appearing next to our air-conditioner; they’ve taken wings,

in hope and preparation for a colony. It’s a poor choice.

Pushing them outside an act of mercy.

Many will not make it.

 

& so, the night Diana died I walked twenty scorched blocks

until my shoes gave out, like in the blues songs &

I was somewhere strange & it was two

before I made it up the flight of my little breadbox, turned

on the radio and heard how Diana had gone

into another tunnel and not come out. Just

that day I’d been arguing with a friend about the royals &

their worthlessness & now there she went and was gone.

The words ended but the voice went on,

top of the hour, announcing the weather &

that her dying would go on & on &

I listened for hours, open-mouthed. Come morning I still

had no one to meet and nowhere

to be. I used to think the worst fate was this,

to be a being with no people. I now know this

to be true, and yet, that night

did not last, it was not the only night that has tilted

into vision & there have been thousands of tunnels

in the years since that night & not one of them

has swallowed me whole.


Laura Tanenbaum writes, “‘The Night Diana Died’ is part of a chapbook entitled Dear Mother which weaves together meditations on private and public and forgotten griefs. Poems from this chapbook and other of my poems have appeared in Rattle, Catamaran, Aji, Trampoline, and other venues. I have also published essays, book reviews and short fiction in publications including The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, Entropy, and Cleaver Magazine. I teach creative writing, composition, and literature at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York.”

In the Wake of Heat – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

 

The summer keeps on swallowing

My loved ones

Whole and crushing

Their bones.

 

I did not get to bury my brother.

The flowers are all gone       all gone.

The world won’t stop

Spitting my people out.

 

My city is burning and there is no

Trace of a memorial beyond the parade of black.

 

Where does life go, in the

Blood-heat?

A mother’s baby is devoured

And the sun is still hungry for someone

Else’s heart to eat.

 

The steam wave carries the names

I cannot hold.

 

The ashes are singing on,

In what a body can join and what

The ground longs to cradle.

 

We burning up down here,

Where it keeps turning out bullets for

Sons and daughters.

 

The city keeps eating and,

And the sun keeps shooting,

and the summer keeps smiling as it feasts.

 

It is hungry out here.


Mikhayla Robinson writes, “I am currently studying English at the University of Georgia, in Athens. I released my first chapbook, Dichotomy, in May of 2020 (Nightingale and Sparrow Press). My work has also been featured in War Crimes Against the Uterus, a reproductive rights anthology, and the Toho Journal.”

Ars Poetica Caught in Eternal Recurrence – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

 

You use the gas burner to set dreams on fire

while stirring beans. You’ve written your name on

10,000 lines yet have nothing beyond

these four walls. In between the job applications,

the taxes, the transmission on the car throwing itself

like an untamed horse, I fold laundry until the creased fabric

becomes my skin. Our 3 a.m. bodies buzz like fireflies

whose only electricity was trapped when the jar lid

twisted shut. You whisper, my life is a series of still images:

us at 20 with bloodshot eyes, hopeful and hungry, summer

sun flushing your face like embarrassment,

the first friend from college dead already.

And I assure you everyone has a God—

the woman next door waters her flowers with the words

of a forgotten prayer, the man at the bus stop makes a religion

of nicotine, gray rings are his angels. And me, I have this poem.

I write her with the same fingers that scroll through your hair

on nights when you can’t sleep. My love, know one day we’ll flip

through our photos and see a narrative, but

for now know that calculus sees infinity in loops.

Forever caught in the spiral of the coffee mug you fill

each morning, swiveling in the shape of my lips as I kiss

you good-bye and hello. Listen to the song. Watch,

the lines of time you see marching on are really the legs

of a ballerina, revolving in some endless pirouette.


Courtney DuChene (she/her) is a poet and journalist based out of Philadelphia, PA. Previous work has appeared in Furrow, The Blue Route and Glass Mountain. You can follow her on Twitter at @CourtneyDuChen2.

Eucalyptus – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

 

I.

In 1879 Presidente Garcia Moreno
brought silver dollar eucalyptus trees
from Australia

to dig their heels into these hills
to keep things from sliding    further.

 

II.

In the foothills of the Andes,
in a hush of eucalyptus
gnarled and knuckled bark

beckons me—  lie down
on pillows of hojarasca.

Forest floor soaks up noise,
sponge of days.

Streaks of sunlight anoint
this stained-glass cathedral.

Here you can inhale deeper
than you’ve ever breathed.

 

III.

My Abuelita, when her name was Deifilia
bundled eucalyptus branches on her way home,

hung their bouquets upside-down
until the cordillera rains would bring el resfrio.

In Guayaquil, when her name was Marianita,
when traditions were all she had left,

eucalyptus and manzanilla hung in her kitchen,
bought from las indias en el Mercado Sur.

Camouflaged in dark green leaves,
she shape-shifted into tropical hibiscus,

caged-bird-of-paradise pressed between
spiral bound pages. The crinkle of Scripture,

fragrance of Vicks VapoRub, her weekly rituals
the sacred aroma         that permeates everything.

 

IV.

The first time, I traveled there
in my father’s Volkswagen camper

the patina on the leaves
reminded me of greenbacks,
copper pennies, the Statue of Liberty.

I wanted to be a forest ranger,
so I could spend all day

in that temple, branches lifted in praise—
lifted to hold back the sky.

 

V.

I too have been uprooted
brought thousands of miles, expected
to thrive in foreign soil.

Decades later, I learn
eucalyptus trees suck all the water
from Andean aquifers.

My conscience pangs.
My roots are still thirsting.

 

VI.

Now, I still get congested, return
to lush Andean forests, my grandmother’s home

release the trees into the air above my mug

Una aguita de eucalipto, mijita
Gracias, Abuelita

I sip in the now, and breathe—
my ribcage the open and closed lung
of a blessed forest’s unleaving.


Lupita Eyde-Tucker writes and translates poetry in English and Spanish. She’s the winner of the 2021 Unbound Emerging Poet Prize, and her poems have recently appeared in Women’s Voices for Change, Yemassee, Rattle, [PANK], and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon. Lupita is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Florida and was a Staff Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers Conferences this summer. She is a Poet in Residence at Miami-Dade Public Schools through O, Miami’s Sunroom program. Read more of her poems here: www.NotEnoughPoetry.com.

Fiona Rice Does Not Talk to the Rabbits

Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

 

Dear Mr. Lorcan,

 

The last time I wrote to you the blueberries were here,

and Mom was showing me how to cut a tomato for the kill.

For one, the blueberry bush devoured my body whole

when I leaned in head first, hoping to find the perfect one for

you. A midnight pearl, musseled between two satiny leaves.

For two, you must use a serrated knife and saw, slowly. In

the kitchen beside the heap of pink seedy guts, Mom had said

garden gnomes do not make good friends. But you listen,

Mr. Lorcan, and you don’t tattle to the walls of the seventh grade

girls’ bathroom, telling them that Fiona Rice talks to the rabbits.

I talked to a rabbit. What was I supposed to do? Benny Wilks,

the eighth grade boy with the window-pane teeth and drawer-knob

elbows, snapped the baby white rabbit’s neck like a toothpick and

left her in a puddle of herself beside your ceramic shoes. She was

dead but she was also safe now—the honeysuckle vine that works its

way down the front fence and hooks around your ceramic pointed

hat was hooked around her, too, as if it were somehow you. When

Benny Wilks was gone, I scooped her soft, crumpled body into cupped

hands like a swallow of water. She needed a prayer or a poem. Leaning

in with my whole body, I said You were small and you were tender. It

made me miss being small and being tender. It made me want to cry,

but I didn’t. When mom saw the small ball of white musseled between

my two hands, she took it out to the dumpster and then scrubbed

my palms to the bone. Now use a serrated knife and saw, slowly, she

pointed to the three tomatoes waiting for their turn. I cut into each

one again, again, again until my hands were soggy with pink seedy guts.

How did you get to standing so still, Mr. Lorcan?

 

Sincerely, Fiona Rice


Mackenzie Kean is an English major and creative writing minor at Rutgers University. Her love for writing emerged from the poems, plays, songs, newsletters, unfinished novels, picture books, and online magazines she created and shared with her family throughout her childhood.