Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Linda M. Crate

the sun was shining brightly
pittsburgh was shining in all her splendor
i was waiting for the bus that would
take me to philadelphia,
but i had some time to kill;
so i remember dragging my luggage into subway
no one said anything but i saw their weird
looks and i must have screamed
tourist with my presence—
uncomfortable i ate as quickly as i could manage
without making myself sick and departed,
i walked across a bridge with bright yellow rails
watched a boat drift across the vast river
that almost seemed an ocean
in it's wide girth;
remember walking down the stairs with my luggage
thinking i'd be just fine but in my over confidence
fell down the stairs
was embarrassed to find some good Samaritans
had seen me fall and they rushed over
asking me if i were okay,
blushing i nodded and insisted i were fine
i was more embarrassed than anything,
and i couldn't wait for the bus
to sweep me away on the edge of oblivion's tongue.
- linda m. crate

Two Poems • Erren Geraud Kelly

Champaign - Urbana, Illinois

this town is a john cougar
song coming to life
midwesterners are clannish
and they don't like outsiders
and they don't care if
nobody likes them
they drink pop, not soda
"no coke, pepsi..."
and they love football as much
as southerners do
a couple of amish men
watch me as i write this
our worlds apart in more ways than

[+]

South Street, Philadelphia PA

every time i ride through a
town
i see the ghettos

the perfect reminders of capitalism
in amerca

so many lives placed together
row to row

the problem with capitalism
is that in order to have rich people
you gotta have poor people

the palace wouldn't exist
if someone didn't make
the concrete and build it

Two Poems • A.J. Huffmann

The City Awakens

after Awakening City, artist Osnat Tzadok

in a strange waterfall of light and sound.
Motion boorishly tramples that strange solace
of pre-dawn silence. Streets virtually erupt
in guttural gravel crunching. Screaming
horns and tires act as otherworldly roosters,
crowing at the sun, childishly playing
peek-a-boo between garishly gleaming skyscrapers.


[+]

The City Looks

better in reflection. Backwards but distilled
in window’s glass. I watch it waiver behind me,
diminished to something only slightly larger than myself.
I am conqueror of this emerald fortress. This giant
who cannot be slain has met its minotaur. I devour
the shine of silver, retrofit remnants to keep me
warm in bitter winds that howl against all I have
accomplished. Something cracks
in the distance. Lightning reminds me
all images are fleeting.
I continue to watch the pane as both of us melt under drops
of acid rain.

Paris '06 • Dieter Rae

click image to enlarge

The Old Lafayette Club • Nancy Lewis

Norfolk, Virginia, 1997

The vacant club house squats
brontosaurus-like in marsh
grass, in the sunrise shadow of the bridge. A lone
seagull issues a raucous cry
and flaps away. A single
easy chair stares blindly
out across the water
from the end
of the concrete dock
which heaves like the queasy dream
of a seasick sailor. The marshland
harbors a long-necked bird
with eyes black-ringed. Bandit.
Inside, the building buckles,
bulges. Red spray-painted graffiti
shouts from stark white block walls,
and fluorescent light fixtures
strangle, noosed
by their own electrical cords.
Bunk cubicles stand
at odd angles to each other
in the ruin of a ballroom floor.
An empty can of green beans
tips its hat to an aerosol
of shaving cream. The dry
and well-worn leather toes
of a pair of tan work boots
crease upward, shreds
of white paint hang
like stalactites from the ceiling
of the kitchen, and
someone has fashioned
a shiny bedroom
from the walk-in, stainless steel cooler.
Outside, the murky water
of the Olympic-sized pool rusts
ladders, slides and chairs
that jut menacingly
from the depths, while in the
slime of the kiddie pool, unidentifiable
dark streaks that are creatures
dart for the cover of islands
of trash. The only color,
the confetti of rainbow
mosaic tiles littering the
ground like New Year’s Day.
Mud-brown mussels sprout
like packed crocuses, and bleached
snail jewels lie tossed beyond,
near where the grass grows.
A band of marauding gulls
screeches past the army of
pilings that once moored
more than a hundred seagoing
craft at a time. The
afternoon’s low tide exposes
moss-bedded barnacles on the
aluminum-topped soldiers.
A neon-headed duck drifts
lazily by on the channel’s inbound ripples.

Skagway • Clyde Borg

Skagway, some white,
Always damp with
Pervasive nothingness,
Only a dubious past
Of gold seeking
With little reward.
That's Skagway,
Always.

Alive, Paris • Barbara Buckman Strasko

On the way to the bar
I counted seven birds flying into
an open window on a rooftop.

And now the clatter of silverware,
espresso machines, and the waiter
who mimes John Travolta

as he dances from table to table
singing “Staying Alive” in a thick
accent. Just last night, I spent

hours with a woman afraid
to go home even though she’d changed
the dead bolts. I told her about

my friend Beth: killed the night
she went back to her husband.
I may have been the last one besides

him to see her alive. I’d walked with her
across the field because she was afraid.
At the funeral, some yelled at him,

some looked down, unsure. Silent,
I could not look him in the eyes.
At the trial suspicion was cast on him,

but no conviction. I remember a night
I’d stopped to see them. Mark had just read
How to Save Your Own Life. So had I.

He said, “Don’t you think Beth should?”
Maybe if she had, or if I had put her
in my car that afternoon, she’d be alive.

Years later I saw him at a bar. I looked
into his eyes, then went into the toilet
and threw up. It was then that I knew.

As I leave this Paris bar, it’s the feathers
in the courtyard that I gather, that I worship
and then toss into the Boulevard. When

the light hits them on the street,
when the traffic crushes them,
that’s how I want him to feel.

Trestle • David McNaron

Melbourne, Florida, 2010

One witness heard the screeching
brakes, the screams,

saw it all. You could hear the unspeakable
taking shape between his words,

a grief that will surface again and again,
like a field of mushrooms,

the same and not the same, returning
each spring. He thought he saw a blanket

twisting beneath the wheels.
The swamp twenty feet below

and full of alligators—was there time
to think, or choose? Late Friday afternoon,

three teenagers.
Sunday morning, empty town, a vagrant

newspaper blowing down the street.
Yellow tape. Blocks of intense sunshine,

shaded sidewalks. Asphalt that reflected nothing.
Desolation of the off-season

Space Coast, place of permanent off-season: boarded
up ice cream stands,

washed out roads—major hurricanes and the end
of Space Shuttle.

Cape Canaveral, name so lovely, launch
pad overgrown by weeds.

And in every crest
the big waves clutching darkness

like a bunch of dead flowers.
I wanted a weekend, wanted it like a
         sudden

impulse to cross a train trestle with friends, eating an ice cream cone.
I wanted the waves, that

empty sound of eternity, a call
to oblivion disguised

as adventure. Cheap attraction
of the carnival barker.

My Florida.

Three years earlier the launch site visible
from our balcony twelve miles away. Enormous

fireball erupting—

Themis III streaked past, leaving a smoke signature.
It drifted a little, smudged,

disappeared into the watery blue
early evening sky.

You Get No Princes From Queens • Michael Mark

We’d warm up by taking the 17A bus and then the subway to
the village and walk around seeing the girls but never talking
to any and then we’d find ourselves over by the whores on 46th
just window shopping we never touched any and then we’d go
back down to the Village and get pizza and look at the hippie
girls dancing to the street musicians hoping for some free love
and then midtown where Studio 54 was like a big neon sign blasting
YOU CAN’T COME IN - NOT FOR YOU even though we wore our $45
Hukapoo shirts unbuttoned to our thick belts showing our gold
chains and we’d stand outside on line with the girls waiting in their
skimpy dresses blowing around getting a peek of some boobs and
ass, lots of legs and take each other’s dare to say This line isn’t going
anywhere – come hang out with us, and at best they’d smile and say
Where you from? and that would end it right there. And they’d get
in but wouldn’t help us get in by saying we were their dates – they
never did, not once. We’d tease and push each other that if we didn’t
hang out with such ugly losers we by ourselves would be in there dancing
and drinking with the celebrities and going home with one those uppity
girls and we’d head back to Washington Square Park, see what freaks
we could see, because you’d see some crazy people dancing and shouting
wild funny stuff, then get a last slice of pizza and ride back home as we
were what the girls called us, Bridge and Tunnel Boys, putting us in our place,
which didn’t kill us too bad because saying that meant they thought
we had a car at least. Snag.

Balto Pierced • Spider Thorndal


What Do You Miss Most About New York City? • Philip Dacey

The island within an island--Central Park
(constructed nature) nested in Manhattan
(hardly a deserted one). Dog-walkers with a fan
of breeds coming behind like a ship’s wake.

Overhearing the music of Hebrew on my block,
(thank you, Synagogue). Yarmulkes and brownstones
wherever I look. Being first in line,
me junkie, at Juilliard, where students rock.

The subway, best possible church, all the intimate
strangers, crowded, face-to-face--grace
abounding. The view of downtown, walking across
the Brooklyn Bridge--faerie castles. Friends, like Colette.

The Fairway, where grocery shopping’s a contact sport.
And everywhere a U. N. of voices, peaceful consort.