“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.

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“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.

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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.

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.

“Pot It’s Not” by Linda Romanowski

One of my Grandfather’s greatest pleasures and talents was his green thumb, which, because he was so tanned, I’d jokingly refer to as his “Italian Brown Thumb.” In the mid-seventies, when he came to live with us in Roxborough, my father and uncles made a small garden patch for him at the side of the house, and every inch yielded vegetables, plants, and flowers – there wasn’t a seed which wouldn’t grow for him. Grandpop’s favorites included the Italian herbs, oregano, parsley, basil, and rosemary. His summer harvest yielded far more than we and our neighbors needed, so he decided to dry the herbs and bottle them for use during winter months. He’d methodically cut the herbs, wash them gently, and then string each leaf with needle and thread in a long strand, hanging them on the clothesline, rigged up from our garage door to the end of our driveway. The herbs which dried best were oregano and basil.

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