I’m happy to announce the official online version of our music issue. Thank you to all of our contributors! Enjoy!
Note: Some of the spacing is slightly different online than in print. We apologize for the inconvenience. The spacing rules and regulations made some of the works unreadable. Sorry, poets! 😦
Story of My Life by Andrea Janov
Keep it forever, he said
smiling at me
as he ripped a strip of
brown fabric off the sleeve
of the Little Devil shirt
he was wearing the first
time we met and tied
it around my wrist.
See you next week, or
Keep it forever, he said
picking up an Uno card
from the floor of Metro
as we left a show. It was
a trampled and dirty
wild draw 4. You know,
hang out sometime.
Keep it forever, he said
handing me a flyer he pulls
from his pocket. The ink
already faded in the creases
from being unfolded
and refolded. You should
come, I’ll be there.
Keep it forever, he said
sitting in the café as he tossed
an IBC root beer bottle cap
across the table at me.
I had a good time tonight.
Happy birthday and keep it forever, he said
holding a blue tinted clear ball
between his fingers – the ball from inside
a spray paint can. It’s lucky,
the can didn’t explode in my face.
I know you’ll keep this, he says
when he visits me. He places a dirty
grey guitar pick in my palm,
I used it this weekend, the first time
I played with Bedford.
Earl Grey Tea with a Principle of Moments by Stephanie Harchar
Blonde curls flying, sly smile, joyous
Wearing and tearing rewind,
Loves Earl Grey Tea.
“Care for a ginger snap?”
“Thru with the Two-Step”
“Stranger Here…than over there.”
Beautiful lyricist, “Ah, sweet music what you do to us!”
Front man, harmonica-playing jokester.
“The times change and move along, these moments here,
all dalliances, ideas caught,
Courted and eagerly pursued.”
Principle of Moments.
Rite of Spring by Edward Lupico
Aspirate from silence:
by nascent sound.
Blare and cadence:
a spear hurled
severs heaven and silver;
Thundered, the world.
Crux descends, precipitate
wood scrapes stone—
roots scratch bones—
One death atones.
Maybe I’ll Find Love in the Frozen Food Aisle of
My Grocery Store… by Rachael Goetzke
Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” piped through the overhead speakers at Food Lion during my ten-year class reunion trip back to Virginia. My eyes taunted me into trading my Yoplait Light for the Ben & Jerry’s gleaming through the freezer glass. Abandoning the dairy dilemma, I closed my eyes and tried to savor the song through the beeping checkout tones and a woman neurotically chatting to her husband on her cell phone, questioning whether he would prefer the Dutch chocolate or Chocolate Lover’s ice cream.
Had my soul mate had been here to help me with my ice cream dilemma, I would have touched his shoulder and said, “Shh, babe. This is this best part! Poetry in motion! Listen…(and I would have sung along, too) Sometimes it feels like someone took a knife, edgy and dull, and cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my skull. At night I wake up with the sheets soakin’ wet and a freight train runnin’ through the middle of my head. Won’t cool my desire…who-o-oa, I’m on fire.” My eyes would be closed, of course, and when I opened them, he’d be smiling back at me, ready to wail the train-whistle “woo-woo-woo” part with me that only The Boss can do so hauntingly. Then, I imagine, we’d agree on a Ben & Jerry’s flavor and share it later.
I opened my eyes to the bright emptiness beside me—the usual. Maybe I should stick with the yogurt, I thought. A few less pounds and I just might turn his head. Springsteen’s train swayed on, singing a call-and-response with my desolate loneliness. It’s hard to be 28 and out of love for eight years. This is the season in life where your childhood friends send you wedding and/or baby shower cards at regular intervals and you’re almost embarrassed to go without a date. But I still have hope for my “happily ever after”—also residing under the alias “hopefully-not-too-much-longer.”
At one point in my childhood I’d heard that it was appropriate to make a wish if you were driving underneath a train trestle when a train came. A short time ago, I was walking to the park near my apartment in northeastern Pennsylvania and I saw the train thundering by, going south. I longed to follow it. “What should I wish for?” I wondered aloud. I thought of my wooden wish box I’d bought in my favorite hippie town of Floyd, Virginia, last summer. In the heat of that July I stepped out of the New Mountain Mercantile and sat on the wooden bench. I pulled out my small notebook and jotted down some wishes on scraps of notebook paper, slid the lid back on, and kissed the wood-burned heart on the back.
I held the box in the palm of my hand, my small fingers clasped around it. I rubbed the heart with my thumb and put the box into my purse. Foolishly, I had developed an attraction to a music-loving poet who could’ve cared less for me, if that was possible. But more wishes for a music-loving man piled up in the wish box nevertheless.
The crush on the music-loving man wasn’t all for naught. I fell in love with new music and tried on new fashions that suited my personality. People said my new hats were fantastic and really suited me. This discovery pleased me because I always thought I looked goofy in them. My new hat collection included a brown bowler hat and a gray cabbie hat. The baseball cap, though seldom worn, makes me undeniably “Goetzke.” By this, I mean, I look a lot like my distant father. Most of my features came from my maternal Grandma Hartman but a ball cap instantly turns me into “Dick’s daughter.”
The other wishes are for peace and happiness for my family and me. Yeah, I also wrote that I’d like to find my soul mate—and I do believe I will. Picture it: some random night in my later twenties, I’ll be choosing frozen Chinese cuisine from my neighborhood grocer and we’ll reach for the same bag of stir-fry and wham!—connection. Maybe we’ll start talking about how great chow mein noodles are. He might compliment my Pearl Jam concert tee with the tree on it—this tee is my usual day off attire choice. Instead of nuking sodium-infested noodles at eight p.m. on a Sunday, I’ll find myself sitting across from an alert and earthy-looking, music-loving man. He’ll listen patiently to my blabbering about each of the Pearl Jam shows I’ve attended. He might even have brown hair and the whole goatee/mustache thing going on—something Eddie Vedder-esque. We’ll spend the whole evening talking about music and random things like how annoying it is that people have no manners their cell phones. Courtesy is, after all, synonymous with sexy.
This man will be patient and good-natured and totally accepting of me. That man will appreciate that I hold the door for people, that I whistle a lot, that I turn pennies to heads so that someone will pick them up, and believe hope lives and good things are on the way. He will absolutely drop whatever he’s doing to sing and/or dance with me in the middle of the grocery store just like Mom still does.
“Yeah, I’ll wish for him,” I tell myself, picking up the pace. About ten feet from the trestle the caboose thundered by, leaving only sky behind; my wish hung in the pale blue July sky.
Frozen to the concrete, I laughed until the disappointment bent my face into a frown. For a moment, I considered the destiny of unbound wishes. It’s okay, I decided; I’m sure he heard me, wherever he is. I picked up my pace and continued to the park.
Hello/good-bye Mr. Calibash, wherever you are.
[Lyrics from Bruce Springsteen “I’m on Fire,” Born in the USA, Columbia Records, 1985.]
Saturday Soul Singer by Brian Fanelli
Her face pains against the mic,
pulled back as she releases, wails
a long note, backed by trumpet,
bursts of sax, steady bass.
After she holds the note, finishes,
her lips curve into a smile.
She tugs at her blue velvet dress,
steps off stage in stilettos,
away from white lights that shined on her fine black skin.
White men in iron-pressed khakis
puff their cigars, smile
next to clapping wives who’ve never heard
Miles moan what it’s like to be blue,
or Billie’s burned voice against sleek piano.
They’ll go home humming a few bars.
Alcoholic Orchestra by Frances Kwok
walk into a bar
tap the counter
order the pina colada
finger the glass’s rim
ride the eighth into the half
as the leader bangs the stick
and the crowd goes wild
watch the face of every good boy come to life
heavy breaths in between
the groups of sixteens that are thrown at the men
and the ladies in red fade away, screaming
take the change and grab the keys
note the time, its antiquated tick leaves
an elegant signature in a brazen environment
out the door you go
sit in your car, and
look up and start the solo-ridin’
don’t look back as multiple crashes lead to a
silence for a moment
The Night that Pop Died by Patricia Kinney
I sat on the fake-marble counter, watching my mom get ready to go out. She wore a black denim mini-skirt, and high heels that clicked on the tile floor. She paced back and forth in the kitchen, leaving behind cloying whiffs of Charlie as she waited for my stepfather, Ed, to finish getting dressed for a night of carousing at a local dive bar.
“The NeverEnding Story” song was on the record player. It was the first song I remember hearing, which makes sense since it was pretty popular when I was two; my mom bought the album, and played it a lot because I was infatuated with the movie. That was before my stepfather came into the picture, when she actually cared about my sister, and I.
I loved popular music because it was all that my mom listened to in those days. That night, I was singing along with Limahl and Beth Anderson. I knew all the words to this particular song, and many others. I was belting them out, trying to get my mom’s attention, when Ed came out of the bathroom. “You ready?” he asked, straightening his collared shirt, and running a hand through his wet hair.
She walked over, and kissed him, a long kiss that made me cringe, as always. They got their coats, ignoring me still sitting there.
“Mommy, I don’t wanna go. The song’s not over,” I said, my five-year-old voice was immature, and tinged with whining.
Without saying a word, she reached over, and ripped the needle off the record. The music died, and I felt lost in the sea of silence that crashed down around us. “I wanna listen to your records, mommy,” I protested, as Ed walked out to the car.
“Get your coat,” she told me, firmly. “You can listen to them tomorrow.”
“But, mommy,” I sniffled as I walked over to the chair where she put my coat. “I wanna listen now!”
“Then listen to them at Grandpop’s,” she said, exasperated. She slipped her arms into a black leather jacket that made her look like Pat Benatar.
“Grandpop won’t let me! He doesn’t like music at night. He watches the news!” I told her, desperately trying to get her to remember what it was like living with her father. My grandmother was a warm and loving lady, but my grandpop was rigid, hard and cold.
Before she could reply, my stepfather came in the door.
“Are you giving your mother a hard time?” he asked, as he grabbed my arm, and jerked me around to put his face in mine.
“No,” I whispered. Satisfied, he let go. I put my coat on without another word, tears streaming down my face. My sister came down the stairs when my mom called her, backpack in hand, and we left the house, the records on the counter like left-behind teddy bears.
My mom and Ed went drinking every weekend. My older sister, Becky, and I were shipped off to our grandparents, the only set we had, so my parents could pretend they had no responsibilities. My parents often rewarded Becky because of her cooperative, adult-like behavior. But they didn’t realize her cooperation was only an act to disguise the fact that she had become hard.
My sister was a wonderful actress, even in our childhood. She would often agree with our parents, who favored her, to get what she wanted. But deep down, she absolutely hated them both. Older than me by three years, she often took it upon herself to educate me in the ways of our parents. “They suck,” she told me most days. “They don’t care about us, so why do you care about them?”
I never believed all of her bluster, just as I could I never understood how she held all of the hate inside. My mouth always got me into trouble. If I felt it, or thought it, I said it, which earned me a lot of slaps and lectures. Still, I clung to the belief that someday my mom would care about us again, until that night, when I realized all hope was lost.
“Here, jerk,” My sister said, and threw a walkman in my lap as we sat in the backseat next to one another. The lonely moon glared down at us, illuminating her frosty eyes. In that moment, I saw through her mask of indifference; I saw the sorrow for me that she harbored in those oceans of blue. Her words were harsh, but her hands were gentle as she helped me to adjust the clunky headphones over my ears, and pushed play.
I’ll never forget the chills that poured through my body as the haunting melody of “Hysteria” pulsed through my ears. It was a far cry from the pop music I played over and over with the hope that my mother would see that we had a connection. I didn’t understand the words to the song, nor would I be capable of it for a long time, but I understood the feelings that those guitar chords and drum beats from Def Leppard’s fourth album produced. A dark hatred washed over me as I saw my parents for what they really were, and recognized that I would never win their love.
In that moment, I hated their attitudes, the way that they would slap me for being a five-year-old kid, and I hated the way they tried to control my every thought. In that single moment, the popular music was turned off for the last time, and the gut-wrenching riffs of hard rock were introduced, courtesy of my sister.
Couples Only by Amye Archer
Skateaway is abuzz
when the purple “Couples Only” sign clicks on.
Hot pink wheels
slide to a stop
and perch like pigeons
atop the furry mushrooms
waiting for the brown wheels
to make their move.
My sister and her boyfriend
glide like cranes
wingtip to wingtip
air between them
as they migrate towards one another.
Her braces blink
disco ball blue—
His face shines squeaky with sweat.
Their fingers lock like a knot
as they whirlwind around
swooshing in circles—
over the lacquered floor.
Legs, lips, sex and jazz by Dale Wilsey, Jr.
wanting my fingers to dance across your thighs
like Jarrett gliding soulfully across the keys
to sip the sweetness from your lips
and know the calming taste of you
a warm tea of beauty and soul
a Coltrane cut
sweet notes of
I pace back and forth
across your apartment
across my mind
sifting through the tension
like the chaos of Zorn
I want to feel your supreme love
naked and hot against me
but I keep cool like Miles
never cross the line created
between friend and lover
I’ll never dance that lover’s dance
never see that skirt sway back and forth
back and forth
not with you
we’ll sit together sipping wine
listening to soulful horns
and you’ll wish for love
but not for mine
I’ll sip the calming taste
from another glass
a simple glance
the last note
Erosian Exile: Past and Present by Marie Landrigan
Her voice sounds angelic – angelic and pleading, grasping you and shaking your senses, saying please, please believe in something more than what’s in front of you, more than what’s on the surface. “I was born in a box, where the crazy people sing…love was just a dream…” Our down-to earth angel is Erica Xenne; her band, Erosian Exile, released their debut album Slave to Freedom on Valentine’s Day 2011. By the end of the first track, “Born in a Box,” you will believe “life is but a dream.”
Erica Xenne, who sings lead vocals, also wrote and composed all the lyrics and music herself. She also plays piano, organ and synth. The band’s drummer, Jon Brand, is Erica’s brother. The siblings are the core of Erosian Exile, which otherwise includes a revolving band.
The guitars on Slave to Freedom let you feel the emotions of the songs by making the guitar weep, scream and wail, a resonance that creates near- perfect harmony with Erica’s voice.
As for Mr. Brand, his drumming is tight, controlled, yet still melodic, and his breakdowns just rock. Jon’s parts command the beat, lead the strings, and contribute to a “catchy” melodic sound. Erica describes her brother’s drumming as “the best thing on the album.” When I spoke to her recently she explained to me what she calls the “psychic musical bond” that is making music with her only sibling, “he already knows what I’m going to play before I play it.”
“I wanna dream like I won’t wake, live as though I’ll never die..” These lyrics from “Chasing Tigers” resonate with fans for different reasons, but for the songwriter herself hold a more intimate meaning. Erica was once so sick that she almost did die. When she was sixteen, Erica had secured an audition for Les Miserables. A week before her audition, she got a sore throat and couldn’t sing. Erica and her family figured it was just a cold, but she didn’t get better after months; doctors didn’t have a prognosis. Erica reflects, “My mom intuitively thought it was Lyme Disease, because she is a brilliant doctor,” but this was not yet certain. An ENT specialist gave her two courses of steroids—since steroids bring out Lyme symptoms, within a few days of her second course she couldn’t walk, and couldn’t move her fingers; her mom had to feed her with a spoon or a straw because she couldn’t swallow, and also help her get dressed.
Due to various factors, including allergies to many of her medications and the real complications of Lyme Disease, getting Erica to walk again became a long process. While the steroids prevented her muscles from becoming limp, they destroyed her vocal chords. As a young woman with her talents and ambition focused on a career as a singer, she was devastated.
After spending two years in bed, Erica went to college at Sarah Lawrence, a prestigious, mostly-female art school in Westchester, New York. She was faced with the harshness that her once operatic voice could barely be heard above a whisper.
Having a simple conversation was now a challenge. Erica still surrounded herself with musicians and artists. Her tastes evolved into a love for rock, especially angry rock like Nine Inch Nails. During college she spent much of her time her school’s color lab. “I was obsessed with photography as an emotional outlet.”
She told people she “didn’t do music anymore,” but later realized that she had recorded about 20 songs while in college. “A Muse,” which personifies those years, lets you know that piano is derived not only from string but also percussion! The beat comes in first from the keys before the drums join in and then they fuse and tap together synergy. After three vocal chord surgeries and enough hard work dedication and passion to last a lifetime, Ms. Xenne decided to keep singing.
Looking ahead, her lyrics are mostly focused on love and a belief in living life to its fullest, but Erica briefly mentions her struggle on “Hurricane Ruby.” She says, “I could sing to the crowds of the souls love could save, with the ghost of my voice that came back from the grave.”
In terms of Slave to Freedom, I love every song. “Sleep on the Ceiling” is a painful lesson in ethics, “Lullaby for Defeat” talks about sacrificing the self for love, “Apostasy” about lust and “game,” “Slave to Freedom,” “Ruby Roué,” “Hurricane Ruby” and “Rockless” all tell the love story of Erica and Ruby, a fictional character to whom the album is dedicated.
“Hurricane Ruby” may be my favorite track in terms of what I love most about a rock song—it has strong melodic drums, our down-to-earth lover with a little blues to back her up, whiny ‘verbs, and socially conscious lyrics – “I’ll give change to the homeless and protest the war, if there’s illness abound I’ll raise funds for the cure..” Ms. Xenne has not only the courage to spill her innermost secrets into her art, “I’ll heal everyone’s pain but it’s mine I’ll ignore, and nothing can take it away,” but also the insight to comment on the genre from which she emerges, “you said I traded my soul to resurrect rock ‘n roll, if passion had a price what would you sacrifice?” The end of the track is a guitar-solo turned into electrical lightning and booms into a thunder-bolt finish.
Through many evolutions, Slave to Freedom takes the brilliant and still ever-budding talents of Ms. Xenne, Mr. Brand and the album’s band mates—as they introduce themselves to the world.
“Trysticide” is a triumph in realism, life isn’t perfect, relationships may end, and we all have to deal with responsibility- no matter what may transpire in our personal lives—sometimes just to keep our lives in a small sense of order. However, we get the message that keeping our heads above water isn’t as good as it gets— “Wake me up with the sunrise, wipe the crust from my dreamy eyes, the dream is over at least until tonight…” She gives us an opening, rather than a closing, as every beginning is an end; the story of Erosian has just begun.
The Rock Show by Rachael Goetzke
Tumbling in a sea of faces
Your blue-green eyes collide with mine
We rock back and forth in time
As the front man delivers
His famous rhyme
But my sight no longer takes him in
My eyes instead, graze your olive skin
I imagine what things could be
As you crowd-dance your way closer to me
Excited utterances swallow up the air
And I see your hands combing through my hair
Dancing between discarded seats
Our feet tap the ground, in time,
To double-bass drum beats
The show will come to its rolling end
But I wonder—
Will you ever call me
More than friend?
Ride Home, Rutgers, November by Brian Fanelli
Bob Dylan rasps on my car radio-
Days are gettin’ short.
Night comes in a’fallin’.
His dustbowl growl reminds me of cool
autumn nights we plucked LPs from milk crates,
listened to the scratch of needle against wax.
Now I drive home from her place
alone, under the wafer of moon,
this grumpy November sky.
I crank the volume, recall her words—
We should see other people—
and how I looked away,
focused on the fat Oak tree center campus,
its last few leaves clinging
against the pull and push of winds
as forceful as bursts of harmonica blues
blasting through my car’s stereo,
bringing me back to nights at her apartment,
our bodies stretched out on the floor, waiting
for the crackle of old vinyl spinning all night.
Amye Barrese Archer has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has written poetry, short stories, and many truths on bathroom walls. Her work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Twins Magazine, Provincetown Arts Magazine, The Ampersand Review, and Boston Literary Magazine. She has also been part of PANK Magazine’s This Modern Writer Series. Her chapbook, “No One Ever Looks Up” was published by Pudding House Press in 2007. She is currently working on a memoir. You can read her blog at http://www.amyearcher.com
Brian Fanelli’s poems have appeared in a number of journals, including Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Breadcrumb Scabs, and others. His first chapbook, Front Man, was published in the fall of 2010 by Big Table Publishing. He is currently working on a second manuscript of poems and teaches literature and writing at Keystone College.
To learn more, visit www.brianfanelli.com
Rachael Goetzke is currently seeking her MFA in
Creative Writing at Wilkes University. She is co-founder and Managing Editor of Word Fountain. She was raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia but currently calls Kingston, PA her home. Her poetry and non-fiction has been published in Word Fountain, The Cohort Review and Ripasso. To read more of Rachael’s musical musings:
Stephanie Harchar is a employee of the Osterhout Free Library. Her love of music is very deeply rooted. “I fell in love with the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun..” After that it was glam rock (i.e. KISS) then the 80’s and a little singer named Robert Plant. She likes Earl Grey tea, writing and reading.
Andrea Janov was raised in Pennsylvania by rock n’ roll parents who knew the importance of concerts and going past the no trespassing signs. She spent her adolescence in a small town punk rock scene where she moshed, fell in love, and produced a few cut-and-paste fanzines.
She holds a BA in Creative Writing, Fiction and Poetry from SUNY Purchase and a MA and MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry from Wilkes University and currently lives and works in New York spending her days dreaming of a rock and roll weekend. http://www.andreajanov.com
Patricia Kinney is beginning her senior year at Keystone College. Her work has appeared in Indigo Rising Magazine and on http://www.WritingRaw.com She is an avid hard rock fan.
Frances Kwok has been writing poetry since the first grade. Her writing is inspired by spontaneous emotion and random happenings. Her poems vary from rhyming to open writing. In terms of music, she likes to listen to all ranges of rock and indie with the occasional outlier. If you see her, she is most likely wearing ear buds listening to bands from Alesana to Tegan and Sara.
Marie Landrigan has been writing since she was a child. She is currently a resident of Wilkes-Barre. She started writing short stories when she was eight, poetry when she was 11 or 12 and has just “never stopped.” She is twenty-five years old.
Edward Lupico Librarian. Wilkes-Barre.
Puts words together. Also takes them apart.
Dale R. Wilsey, Jr. is a writer and poet living and working in Tunkhannock, PA. His work has recently been published on Young American Poets and will be featured in the Summer 2011 issue of the Boston Literary Magazine. Dale maintains a blog where he writes on anything from old boots to winding rivers.
If you would like a hard copy, please contact:
Word Fountain Staff
c/o Osterhout Free Library
71 S. Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701