Enter the City

“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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“A Philly Afterlife” by Diane Holmes

Thunder announced itself through the overcast sky like sheet metal waves on the old radio shows. The gray Southeastern Pennsylvania clouds hid the sunlight, as they usually did. No one ever felt like waking up on days like this.  Snooze alarms everywhere just buzzed, and rang, and sang their ringtones on smartphones.  Secondary alarms went off, the sort one might set across the room without snooze features to force oneself to awaken and get moving at the last minute.  The trees and grass, lush green from the plentiful rain, swayed in the gusty winds of the impending storm.  The rain hadn’t started yet today.  But the storm indeed loomed close.

Continue reading “A Philly Afterlife” by Diane Holmes

“The Election that Changed the World” by Linda Romanowski

In 1952, ten men assembled in a modest two-story building, in the Spring Garden Section of Philadelphia at Ridge and Callowhill Streets. They worked as technicians for Remington Rand Inc., founded by University of Pennsylvania graduates, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. One of these technicians was my father.

That night, the group set out to do what had never been done before – with six Univac computers spread out on their test floor, they’d predict the results of the 1952 Presidential election. It worked out according to plan – they determined early on that evening that Eisenhower would win the election.

Continue reading “The Election that Changed the World” by Linda Romanowski

“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.

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.

“Christian Street Caruso” by Linda Romanowski

A quest in the present can help us to access eras, events, and people who are meant to live on forever. My pilgrimage to the Mario Lanza Museum was such a quest, evoking memories of one of the greatest tenors of all time. It would include visiting the museum, the Mario Lanza mural, Lanza’s birthplace, the Italian Market, and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church. 

The most recent South Philadelphia location of the Mario Lanza Museum at 7th and Montrose Streets was sold to a developer. The new location at 12th and Reed Streets was scheduled to open during the late spring of 2019. My cousin lived across the street from the now “former” museum, and I called her and excitedly told her about my upcoming pilgrimage. She would join my husband Ken and I on our visit to the church.

Continue reading “Christian Street Caruso” by Linda Romanowski

“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.

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.

“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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“That Night on the Old Girard Avenue Bridge” by Ken Romanowski

In the early 1960s we were a young, row home family. Dad was employed while Mom was a homemaker. My parents saved enough money to take the four of us, including my younger sister and me, to a Big Five college basketball game in West Philadelphia. For us, this was huge.

Our destination was the Palestra, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). This 8,700-seat arena was the hub of the Big Five, which included LaSalle, Temple, Penn, Saint Joseph’s (St. Joe’s), and Villanova.

Continue reading “That Night on the Old Girard Avenue Bridge” by Ken Romanowski

“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.

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.