“Silhouette” by Allan M. Heller

Silhouette

I glide through hordes of homeless who congregate in the dirty urban streets, surrounding their unwary prey like zombies who shuffle quietly, discreetly decreasing the radius from several yards to a few feet before attacking, and by then it’s too late for the pair of unsuspecting ladies with their fancy leather purses who don’t realize that they’re surrounded until they hear the dreaded mantra “spare change?” but fortunately they “plead the plastic” and incredibly, Romero’s extras seem to buy that fib about their quarry having nothing but credit cards and grudgingly disperse, but of course they’ll be back the next night, or even the next hour and will approach the same pair of pedestrians if the latter are foolish enough to stay in the area.

We call them “homeless,” but of course they’re not really homeless; their home is every big city and even a few small cities and towns, but most of them hang their hats, if they have hats, in Philadelphia or Detroit or Los Angeles or New York, so how can we say they’re homeless when a park bench can accommodate two or three sleepers, bundled close together, which is good for keeping them warm during the winter, especially if you don’t have blankets?

Some of them have eyes full of desperation or fear, some are angry, but the rest project resignation and apathy and although there are plenty of shelters, they don’t want to come in from the cold so to speak because they don’t trust their own kind and why should they? I don’t trust them, either, no matter who they are, and most of them are middle-aged black men, and a few women of different racial tones but never any children, I never see any children no matter what the statistics tell me, lies, damn lies and statistics.

I see a certain white guy from time to time who looks borderline normal, if I can use that term, although he is a bit scruffy, and if you see him enough you’ll pick up on the fact that he always wears the same clothes but oddly, and this is really odd, he doesn’t smell. He stations himself outside a small Korean grocery along Spring Street and mumbles the mantra at every third or fourth passerby who usually pretends not to hear him and every so often he ambles into the Korean grocery and swipes a bottle of soda the proprietors pretend not to notice because they figure that he’s part of the cost of doing business in the city, and they don’t want all of the homeless advocates, who themselves would never adopt a homeless individual, to get all bent out of shape. This guy never says anything to me, though; he knows that it would do no good.

I walk at a normal pace, past the undead mendicants, remembering all of the good things I’ve been blessed with, although my business is gone and Ruth went with it and a lot has changed for me but then again, a lot changes for everyone. My ninth-grade math teacher told the class on our first day of school that there were three constants in life: death, taxes (Wow! Big surprise there!) and change. But Mr. Eastman is long dead, and I don’t know where my fellow ninth grade math students are; they could be anywhere, but I have a good idea where I’m going – Get out of the way, you lousy panhandler! You know better than to ask me! – but I’m kind of reminded of a song from a Lerner and Loewe musical, “Paint Your Wagon:” Where are we going? I ain’t certain! When do we get there? I don’t know! All that I know is I am on my way!

I spot one of them lying on a sewer grate, a grate spewing ample steam, which I guess is why he chose it on this chilly February night, so I stop and give him a swift kick, not a hard one, and then I deliver a second booted assault and he gives me a dirty look, but one that says “Damn you,” rather than “Let’s fight!” so he hauls himself up, straightens his trench coat, and moves on. I’m tired and my feet hurt, so I settle down on the grate – my grate now – and go to sleep.

 

 

007[1]

 

Allan M. Heller is poet laureate of Hatboro, and his work has appeared in Mad Poets Review, Mobius, Writer’s Digest, Brevities, The Compass, and Plainsongs. He is also a published short story writer, author of five non-fiction books, and a collection of short stories, 40 Frightful Flash Fictions.

 

“Set your Mind at Ease” by Allan M. Heller

SET YOUR MIND AT EASE

Don’t worry about that group of young men on the corner.
They’re just kids, really.
Smoking and swearing are all part of the act.
If one of them spits, he’s probably just clearing his throat.
And those snide comments could describe a lot of people.
Not necessarily you.

As a pedestrian, you have the right of way.
The signal flashes in your favor
And the borders of magic crosswalk protect you
Like the confines of a large pentagram drawn on the floor
Protect the sorcerer from the demon he summons.
The long line of cars knows that
As does the macho pinhead in the souped-up 1973 Chevy Nova
Revving his engine.
Just keep on walking.

Surely you’re not afraid of some little dog?
Okay, so he’s a medium dog, but he’s no Cerberus!
Most dogs won’t bite.
Besides, he doesn’t own the whole sidewalk.
Yea, though I walk through the valley…
Enough!
Straight ahead. March. Show no fear.
Set your mind at ease.

007[1]

Allan M. Heller is poet laureate of Hatboro, and his work has appeared in Mad Poets Review, Mobius, Writer’s Digest, Brevities, The Compass, and Plainsongs. He is also a published short story writer, author of five non-fiction books, and a collection of short stories, 40 Frightful Flash Fictions.

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

“The Sweet Land of Del Sur” by Spencer Shaak

THE SWEET LAND OF DEL SUR

They could make a song out of me
stretch my torso like whole notes
like Coronado’s sunset.

They could dot my eyes
like floating staccatos
or fighter planes hovering
over clay cliffs.

Turn my stiff lips
into sounds of slurs
in the sweet land of Del Sur
where tequila pours
more than rain.

Lovely lady by the sea
make a song out of me
drown my soul in your endless
rifts and crests.

Transform me into your unsung feature
your hidden notes
and cast my lines in your long-lost boat,
the boat beyond Coronado’s sunset
where fighter planes hover,
where tequila pours like rain
to forget past lovers.

Capture

Spencer Shaak is an MFA graduate in creative writing from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

Four Poems by Christopher Mulrooney

entertainments

a quiet row succinctly handled
at the siphon stand down the street
and for something awfully sweet
hot cross buns faintly warmed over
and these are the oases after all
amongst the desert dwellers’ cubbyhole

fortress

well the gangbanging requires a mighty big area
to work with beams and lath and plaster
by the carload brought in special
and to cover all the noise the loudest décor
you have ever seen erected in Christendom

stalwarts
sure clean the house
drive the devil out at door
then quiet as a mouse
watch him come back evermore
sevenfold the dirty louse

pray you mater
what rubbish you luggage
the roundabout gits
not an ounce of leverage
to move a stone a pebble
and the world lies there

Christopher Mulrooney is the author of toy balloons (Another New Calligraphy), alarm (Shirt Pocket Press), supergrooviness (Lost Angelene), and Buson orders leggings (Dink Press).

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

Editor’s Post – Voyager in the Eternal

The searching voyager wants perfect pastel etchings, for this city sits adorned with lavishly accented terrains, hanging antique robes decorated deliciously by human hands, created for the creation of this city by an act of God. A chorus of noise resonates from that perfectly pitched instrument, the human voice, and as the quiet is pierced, the surrounding, splendid dark, filled with dim, amber lights creates the semblance of an ascending dawn or a dreary dusk. The myriad cafes are open late and exude the aroma of something softly baking. Nighttime inhabitants of this ancient and almost secretive city walk in the dark like supernaturals in search of feasts while the voyager sinks secretly into the background, and, by doing so, escapes everyday imprisonments. A cyclone of humanity, without name, mind, or material surrounds her while the wind floats softly covering her with color, breath, and fragrance.

1415653468395[1]

Ayesha F. Hamid is the founder and editor in chief at The City Key.  Ayesha has an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing from Rosemont College and an MA in Sociology from Brooklyn College. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Big Easy Review Philly Flash Inferno and Rathalla Review. Ayesha is a lover of cities, big and small.

Editor’s Post – “Entering the City”

Coming out of the dark bus depot,
the traveler is greeted by bright lights
like jewels streaming emerald, ruby, sapphire.

Glimmering entities, at times distinct,
at times coalesced encourage high hopes
as city dwellers swarm around them
like satellites to stars.

Thirst arises for knowledge
of this city, its history, its people.

This need to know is matched
only by a thirst for sweet liquid
which, when found, fills incomparably well.

Sublime sugar runs down the middle
of the mouth while sour lemon
seeps at the sides. Sipping the cold can
feels commensurate to absorbing everything
as the city swallows with its noise and sights,
the liquid drowns the senses.
For a few solitary seconds there is
a feeling of complete relief.

1415653468395[1]

Ayesha F. Hamid is the founder and editor in chief at The City Key.  Ayesha has an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing from Rosemont College and an MA in Sociology from Brooklyn College. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Big Easy Review Philly Flash Inferno and Rathalla Review. Ayesha is a lover of cities, big and small.

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

“What It’s About” by Spencer Shaak

I look for Charlie every time
on Sundays at the Bayou Bar.
He’s always on the same stool,
slugging down two-dollar Miller Lights.

We watch Eagles football together
with the rest of the Bayou.
We talk about what we like
about Philadelphia – Wissahickon Park,
fallen-fire crusted leaves,
hustle and bustle, food vendors,
barbecue steam,
bicyclists swinging in and out,
like bright crochet hooks
weaving their own section
of Philadelphia’s quilt.

Charlie tells me he’s lived in the city
for all eighty years of his life.
I say – Me? Barely one.
But right now, it’s not about then,
it’s about now – Main Street, Manayunk,
bikes in and then out, hickory smoke blocks away,
Bayou, two-dollar Miller Lights,

Charlie sitting on the stool to my right.
It’s about words never said:
You’re like a grandfather to me.

Capture

Spencer Shaak is an MFA graduate in creative writing from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.