“Abandoned Tenements” by Peter Mladinic

I lose the insomnia contest.
Someone stays awake the longest
who looks like but is not yours
truly. In a drawing contest I draw despair
as walls of black windows, hollow space.
Crossing the street I step up my pace
in the contest to see who leaves wins.
I stay on the street abandoned,
not wondering where did they go,
only mesmerized by the dark hollows
that were windows people looked out.
The next contest, to see who’s proud.
Yet I’m fixated on the empty street,
abandoned tenements, summer heat.

Peter Mladinic’s poems have recently appeared in Neologism, the Mark, the Magnolia Review, Ariel Chart, Bluepepper, and other online journals.  He lives, with six dogs, in Hobbs, New Mexico.

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Two Poems by Danny P. Barbare

The City of Charleston, SC

I like the old city. It fills me full
   of ghost.
How the horses still clop on the
   cobblestone.
A clipper ship floats in the harbor
   as if it has cross and bones
when the only lantern seems to
   be
   the moon
as steps draw nearer, between the
the shadows and the Spanish moss.

The City at Christmas (Greenville, SC)

These buildings are a little
   smaller
the sidewalks no longer run
nor the lights so many and
   magical
but I know they are there
somewhere in the
moonlight’s little coat.

Danny P. Barbare resides in the upstate of the Carolinas. His poems have recently appeared in Blue Unicorn and Ethel. And his poetry has been nominated for Best of Net by Assisi Online Journal. He has been published locally, nationally, and abroad.

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“Fourteen” by Joshua Ginsberg

Saw New York again last night
reflected, distorted
just like it never was as a kid,
inverted through a droplet
on the edge of an icicle
hanging off her balcony.
Suspended there for a frozen breath
before falling, shattering like a snow globe
spilling out its magic
into the slush and dirty tire tracks
over uneven cement three stories down.
On that day of crisp red brick against
a sky-blue no earthly painter can mix,
when she snapped a perfect picture
of our shared inexperience,
diffuse light gentle over smooth alabaster
and her lips an uber-clever citykid smile
that concealed everything I didn’t understand;
didn’t need to yet.

The world has kept busy
these thirty years since,
wrinkling and rending flags and flesh
planting planes in the side of buildings,
clawing endless pits – future home
of all tomorrow’s monuments.
Still through its stained fingers slip
one photo
of me and that girl
with the heart-shaped face.

Joshua Ginsberg is a writer, entrepreneur, and curiosity seeker who relocated from Chicago to Tampa Bay in 2016. He is the author of “Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,” (Reedy Press, 2020), and his poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in various print and digital publications. He maintains a blog, Terra Incognita Americanus and has been a business proposal and resume writer for over 10 years. He currently resides in Tampa’s Town and Country neighborhood with his wife, Jen, and their Shih Tzu, Tinker Bell.

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“Downtown, California” by Matthew J. Andrews

On streets placed as precisely as floor tiles
in the shadow of soaring office towers,

the zombies roam,

shuffling their feet in stunted, uneven steps,
staring blankly, eyes fixed firmly in the past,

muttering unintelligibly.

With reclaimed treasures stacked in shopping carts
and claims staked under stone doorway arches,

they live as ghosts

while the wind-whipping flag animates the
extinct bear and blood-red stripe

serpentines.

Matthew Andrews

Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer who lives in Modesto, California. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orange Blossom Review, Funicular MagazineRed Rock ReviewSojournersAmethyst ReviewKissing Dynamite, and Deep Wild Journal, among others. He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com.

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“Empty Venue/Full House” by Linda Romanowski

Performance played to an empty hall
live audience deprived they played on,
our lives depended on it.

The question begged of Orchestral performance,
who would hear their sound in an empty venue?
Their Facebook page unleashed a virus of its own
virtual seating unlimited, Livestream untethered.
The Fifth and Sixth symphonies of Beethoven,
the Fifth called “Fate,” four notes that changed the world.
They say those prime first notes came from bird’s singing
while Ludwig van inhabited Deaf’s door.

No time to lose, musicians dispatched mastery,
bound to inject perfection to its core
their bodies concentrated, driven, focused
to bring that bastard, Covid, to its knees.
At the Fifth, 4th movement, Livestream comments
exploded upward, hidden keyboards volleyed.

Multitudes heard the silver lining of sound.

The rushing notes as cells divided fast
beat that sucker to its knees,
bowed heads to Beethoven’s 5:4,
they played that most beloved, breathing gem,
played like penicillin bows, strings, elbows gliding,
brass kicked ass, feet stomped, pedals struck timpani,
racing, throbbing veins pounding an enemy.
Fingers smiled, pulled the trigger, rushing notes pulsing
thunder through the bloodstream, headed for each
tip of Covid’s crown.

Relentless notes, the antigen, music antibody gone viral-
Beethoven vaccine, set to vanquish the Invader.

Thousands of Yannicks conducted, fencing cell demons
to their jugulars, punched air in time to thwart destruction
chapped washed hands listened,
slammed favorite air instruments
pounded surfaces in kitchens, dens, cars.

Upraised thumbs, floating fireworks, streamed up screen,
signs of relief, healing, momentary pause
encores of hearts and bravos soared.

The most moving of all movements
no movements at all,
when the Philadelphia orchestra stood and faced
their empty venue hall.

Linda Romanowski, a resident of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, traces her roots to South and Northwest Philadelphia. Linda obtained her BA from Rosemont in Psychology and Elementary Education. She is currently enrolled in Rosemont’s MFA Creative Non-Fiction Program. Her primary focus is portraying her Italian heritage experience.

Since 2017, Linda has served as a reviewer for “Rathalla” magazine. Her essay, “Pot It’s Not,” was published in City Key in 2018. This year, she is a poetry reviewer for “Philadelphia Stories” for the Sandy Crimmins National Poetry Prize.

In 2019, Linda and her husband, Ken, participated in the Rosemont College Global Studies Program at the Sant’ Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy. Her blog appeared on Rosemont’s Facebook page and was published in RoCo, Rosemont’s online publication.

In 2015, Linda received the Bonnie Hilferty Freney ’64 Memorial Award for volunteer service to Rosemont and currently serves as president of the college’s alumni board.

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“Carrol Avenue” by Joshua Ginsberg

You never promised
to make me a writer or an artist;
only that you would beat me like one –
backbreaking barbacking
reeking of beer and dragging ass home
just in time to curse the sunrise;
you hardened me to the clatter of the L,
showed me who serves
the best Chicken Vesuvio,
taught me to drink bourbon neat, and
where to find a stone mermaid
carved by the shore of Lake Michigan.
Whispered to me all the dirty things
you never told Sandburg.
On days so cold I thought I might shatter
you slid a warm sly smile into my pocket
waiting for a cab at Chicago and Milwaukee
while I read the inscription at the base
of Nelson Algren Fountain.
You lowered me down below the streets,
entombed so deep under
prairie style terracotta and concrete
that sunlight’s just a myth, where
you stole my teeth and wallet, left me
drained and dreaming, straining in the dark
to see through two bruised and swollen slits;

but it was there in the shadow of the bricks
of that rat’s nest palace of filth,
that at last you spread wide
your tarnished gold wings
and blessed me with
your secret face.

Joshua Ginsberg is a writer, entrepreneur, and curiosity seeker who relocated from Chicago to Tampa Bay in 2016. He is the author of “Secret Tampa Bay: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,” (Reedy Press, 2020), and his poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in various print and digital publications. He maintains a blog, Terra Incognita Americanus and has been a business proposal and resume writer for over 10 years. He currently resides in Tampa’s Town and Country neighborhood with his wife, Jen, and their Shih Tzu, Tinker Bell.

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Three Poems by James Croal Jackson

Writing a Break-Up Album in the Underworld of Los Angeles

parking garage stone and yellow emergency
the microphone’s metal web against my lips

to vomit last year in haphazard dollops
of song, wolf, and waterfall dry music

career in loneliness this lifetime achievement
many-tailed and thick porous semiconscious

rambling strummed brown fingernails clacking
away at my hard reverbertion of longing the car

window closed to keep the sound in

Passing Claudia

in this city is a familiar intersection /
brick / unlike the old: stone / spotted
your doppelganger waiting the stoplight
/ stalled behind a truck and called your
name / as I drew closer / turned green
you waved back / could not halt my car’s
slope southbound after hello / goodbye
all acquaintances become ruins / friends
who shift faces / places to call home first /
my mother’s / my skeletal wandering to
belong / shell possessing consciousness
beneath acacias / humid summer of moss
between the cracks of historic buildings

in this city my heart is polluted

driving in circles everyone talks
about the same thing love weather
politics rain this summer gone
in a flood another day awash
in the lust pitter-pattering
off the black hot concrete
incalescent the days we
drive in circles around
each other, lip symbols
tiny trinkets the tiny purple
piggy bank I bought for you
from a quarter-slot machine
in a mall outside Youngstown

download

James Croal Jackson  (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Reservoir, and Rattle.

He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com)

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Leaving the City by Shaun Haughey

A train of thought still connects me to the city

but I never reloaded my card to go back.
Instead, I left tall buildings,
letting them continue to pulse
and breathe and mingle at their block party.
I left the music of street performers,
the dancing legs of drunks in bars
and brilliant lights shining down from stars.

The stars faded,
dissolving into ribboned stories
cut apart by speeding cars.

Now, I sit slumped in my suburban chair
only moving to pull the blinds shut.
Here, in my room,
where acrylics dry quickly,
I no longer taste the toxic mixture
of turpentine and hair.

Here, I remain living a quiet, quaint life
and when I peak out the window to see
the city still beckoning in the distance

I want to go back there…

Shaun Photo

Shaun Haughey is an artist and writer from South Jersey. In 2017, he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts and Minor in Art History from Rowan University. While he attended Rowan, he was a proud member of the printmaking club. He also served as part of the editing staff at The Gallery. His work has appeared on a number of posters throughout the Philadelphia area for bands and events such as Circle of Hope, The NJ Proghouse, and The Tea Club. In his work, he explores mysterious anomalies to make sense of reality. Though he still doesn’t, he hopes that by delving into the mysterious, he can avoid an existential crisis. When Shaun Haughey isn’t ruminating on the meaning of life, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading comic books, listening to music way too loud, getting absorbed in video games, and flying in his TARDIS. You can follow his work on Instagram @shaun.hoy

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“Escalate” by Caroline Sipio

I.

The escalator pulls me above ground,
a maudlin monotony of movement
that cycles
tens
hundreds
thousands
of times a day.

I wait for the moment
the ridges of the moving stairwell
will halt the tips of my boots
so I can fall on my face.

What would it be like
to have strangers walk over me
or crack my spine like a book?

II.

The reel of you and me
runs through my thoughts
a faucet running on full strength,

relentless.

Are we filling the sink
or getting pulled down the drain?
Either/or
we’re drowning.

III.

Just
Beyond
The
Doors
I
Cannot
Reach

Words are written in black
against a yellow backdrop of caution paint:

WATCH THE GAP

The lettering is half-faded,
a mantra
that’s reinterpreted each day
to fit my mood, a horoscope
that I’m convinced will change my life.

csipio (1)

Caroline Sipio is a writer and bibliophile from the Philadelphia area with a penchant for coffee and imagining different arrangements of words. She has a Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University and a Masters of Arts degree in English from Boston College. She has previously been published in Crimson & Gray. She currently works at Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library where you’ll find her happily surrounded by books. Caroline loves to celebrate Halloween year round and watch her miniature, wire-haired dachshund named Lemon play in the leaves.

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“Beyond Power Lines” by Kyle Carrozza

For Chad Ostrowski

So many nights I walk suburban streets
alone. Porch lights send their luminosity
through trees, allowing me to write
between the lines of my journal.
I can write anything about the sun setting
over Central Pennsylvania, describe the burnt
orange hair of a girl I once knew or wanted to know, write
the words love, longing, or us — and still not say anything
as beautiful as the moon hanging in the sphere of the night
sky framed by power lines. Its face lights my way, maybe
not enough to see my destination but enough to know
that its glow is the sun waiting to come up another day.
Cell phone towers send signals into the sky:
Setting is temporary. Ending is illusion.
Calling a friend near midnight means
our voices, too, float out among the stars.
The things we say to each other
can reach across the distance,
our words filling infinity.

IMGP6158 (1200x798)

Kyle Carrozza lives in Coatesville, Pennsylvania where he teaches and coaches soccer. His journalism pieces have previously appeared in The Coatesville Times, Scarecrow Grin, and The Korean Quarterly. This is his first publication of poetry, and he fully intends on bragging about it to the English teachers at his school.

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