Spring 2012, Issue Six

Word Fountain:  Spring 2012 Issue No. 6

 Editors:
Rachael Goetzke
Iris Johnston
Edward Lupico

Harajuku Waitress
by Iris Johston 

No one ever writes, ‘the morning sky
looks like nothing so much as cotton
candy or the eyeshadow palette
of a Harajuku waitress.’

She rubs the sunrise on her eyes
because there is no sky outside her window,
just a neighbor’s wall, one hour
the color of sardines, one hour
the color of boiled wool.

 No one ever says that children
laughing sometimes look like children
crying, and a mother might turn
smiling at the laugh of her son
but clap her hands on her mouth when
she sees the sprawl of corduroy
and blonde curls on the sidewalk.

No one ever warns us that we are living
in cavemen bodies we are books
of biochemistry lasered on papyrus
and our bodies hate our brains
like the waitress hates her neighbors
and the restaurant, she hates her filmy lace gloves
it’s all she can do not to fold
a note under the egg custard in the blue fluted cup
that says, “meet me in the Ladies’ Room
and I’ll do whatever you like.”

***

Sunday
by Laura Duda

It was Sunday – no longer an acknowledged day to her, but rather a gap between two others. The day of rest, the day of the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day; the day to pile the kids into the family sedan and drive to the local house of worship to repent and pray, drink the wine, break the bread, and beg forgiveness. Except, of course, if you were Haydn Andras. Haydn was different. For her Sunday was not for any of those things. Just a gap, an empty shell of darkness overflowing with memories, dreams and nightmares, fire and thunder. Things she wanted desperately to forget. Sunday used to be special when Haydn was younger – but Mathujan, the beautiful flame-haired sorceress whose jealousy driven evil had plagued her family for centuries, had changed that. She’d taken away her mother, her friends, and her home. Stolen the heart of Sundays, and left her an orphan in an imminent world of mortality.

      Everything had happened so fast.

Sunday had never been a religious day for Haydn or her family, except in those sparsely scattered years when a solar Sabbat fell on one.   In the year 2010, Samhain, the “End of Summer Harvest Festival” – the final celebration of the Pagan and spirit year when the veil between the mortal and immortal worlds is thinnest – fell on a Sunday. For Haydn and her mother, Vanaura, this Samhain was to be one of exaltation and joy; a long awaited  reunion of souls and family. It was to be the night that Haydn’s father, Calder, would return to them to fulfill his mortal obligations and earn his place among the gods of Annwyn, the Welsh afterworld.

The evening’s festivities were highlighted by dancing fiddles, twirling belladonnas, and a playful merriment that swept through hearts and shone on the faces of all – young and old, infant and teen, boy and girl, woman and man. An immense bonfire glowed and warmed the air at the center of the clearing where they’d gathered to celebrate. Fireflies flirted over the drifting embers to light the night with sparks of green, and bring it to life.

The fire.

It had appeared to dance. Flickering red and orange, yellow and blue flames licking high into the night wrapping themselves in a passionate   embrace, and weaving tendrils through wood and branch seeking breath from the cool autumn air.

Then, it had roared.

The sky reached down in a thunderous rage. Lightning streamed from its clouds, an explosion of red escaped its grasp. The fire pulsed and raised, flames forming the jagged edge of a woman’s robes. The sorceress, in a fury of heat and rage, descended from the dark into the very heart of the flames. Women screamed and rushed to find their children, gathering them close as they all watched the fire transform. Men, hypnotized by her terrible splendor, moved as though in a trance, falling to their knees at her feet. Fiddles silenced. Whispers of her name, “Mathujan,” carried on the wind. She twirled in her birth-pyre as her midnight eyes searched the motionless flock. Mercilessly they sought until falling upon Vanaura, they held.

“Restless souls and spirits damned seek closure from this mortal world,” her voice crackled and hissed. “They wish their sins to be forgiven and erased, their debts to be fulfilled, their prophecy   realized, and their existence to be passed from uncertainty to the heavens. Well, not tonight.”

Gasps of disbelief rippled through the darkness.

“Tonight, it is I who will fulfill a prophecy.  Tonight, I’ll have vengeance and will take from you.” She pointed a blazing finger at Vanaura.  “As you have taken from me.”

Haydn stood fast at her mother’s side. Some of the men and boys had gathered branches, spruce and firs, and were beating the flames at Mathujan’s feet.

She spared them a glance. “Cease! You mortal fools!” Balls of fire sprang from her hands and knocked them back, fully engulfed, screaming.

Her fiery stare returned to Vanaura. “Calder is mine! To you he shall never return, his debt shall never be fulfilled, and you shall spend your days in Limbus. Never again will you share his love, his life or his bed. He is MINE!”

Too quickly for Haydn to cry out or protest, the sorceress’s arms reached out from the night, flames dripping to scorch grass and earth, as she wrapped Haydn’s mother in a fiery embrace. They vanished, whisked up through the clouds from whence the evil one had come.

That was inRhode Island. That was nearly a month ago.

Haydn now sat in her new bedroom. A converted attic on the third floor of a dingy white, aluminum-clad, low-income house on a dead end street called Elm. She stared out her one small window at the desolate street below. Amber, orange, red and brown leaves performed an autumnal waltz across the potholed asphalt street. The wind swirled and floated and dipped them along. Over the cracked concrete sidewalk flirting with the trunks of maples and oaks on their way to the nearest storm drain, where they would end this final dance of the season.

At least they had company. Unlike them, she was alone.

Haydn didn’t know where her father was, or how to reach him. He hadn’t made it through that night after her mother was taken. She couldn’t even be sure he knew that either of them were gone. At seventeen, alone in this world, she’d been forced to leave her life, her friends, and the only home she’d ever known. She’d become the custodial ward of Elna Pickett, a childhood friend of Vanaura’s. Elna, the devout Catholic who had no idea of her old classmate’s beliefs and rituals, no idea that she was now sharing her home with a young woman whose beliefs did not match her own; whose divine spirits and deities were not of the Holy Trinity. Elna Pickett; a childless, husbandless, truck stop waitress in a one light, one God town in rural Pennsylvania.

***

Practicing Faith
by Dawn Leas

I.
Sunday morning, drowsy from incense,
we kneel with mom at the marble
altar of Holy Name of Jesus, Eucharist
on our tongues. It sticks to the roofs

of our mouths as we sign the Trinity.
In the pew we bow our heads, and pray.

II.
Sunday morning, dad talks to his Higher
Power as he runs between cypress and oak
trees inAudubonPark. His spirituality
sliding free like Louisiana Pine Snakes

flying like Red Tail Hawks, thirteen
years of Catholic school forgotten.

***

driving with the windows open
by Dawn Leas

a voice from the past called today.
fluid baritone cuts static. its timbre
slices long-forgotten lines, entwines

words and wind in hair let down
to roam summer heat, its song
laced with belief in second chances.

***

Insomnia
by Michael Lindgren

Through sleep among shadowed signs
Haunted by strangers
Kept static, awaiting
dawn’s silent hush;
Restless, unbidden,
a tremor still vibrates
under angles and planes, of
hidden surface, now banished,
buried sight, crown unseen
below hardening eyes
and masked by indifferent rays.
A summons: who calls?
What bright chiming figure
alights among rubble
glistening silver, shard-like
and slivered
mirrored by unblinking rays?
Only thoughts, restless, rotating,
clicking on schedule
awaiting this discordant fray
upon the bower, still pensive,
endlessly patient,
a procession in balanced dismay.

***

Moonpies for Misfits
by Andrea Janov

 

 

Hot Water Music rasps

Mark walks in,                                                     Where the hell

his hands shoved in                                         have you been? Nick asks

his pockets

wearing his ‘shoot pigs in the face’

shirt, he’s worn every day this August.

                          The Grey AM was playing at Metro

                                  told Jamie I’d meet him there

                                                Wow, a show. Remember when…

                                                                        Jibo in his faded AFI T-shirt.

Isn’t that how                                                                               I miss                                     Rianna laughs                we all met?                 those days

the bands

               the kids                                                                my hair still blue

 the energy            our purses covered in pins

                                                                               

                and drinking 40s out of  paper bags. Nick’s

tattoo sticks

out of his shorts

Don’t get all sappy on me  Mark’s

hair hangs in his eyes.

***

We’ve Got a Thing That’s Called Postal Love
by Rachael J. Goetzke

“You need to buy that hat,” Cathy insisted as we stood in the “Mart of K” as she calls it. It was a bowler hat, the kind you might see in the 1920s when people not only knew that jazz existed but celebrated it. Cathy is warm and radiant, her wavy brown hair encircling her cheerful face. A writer, and confessed shopaholic, she is sturdy in her support of impulse buying. But Cathy is always
attuned to nuances of her loved ones’ tastes. She is so
considerate of her loved ones, in fact, that even on long days, she stays up to pen letters to them that she would send out by way of her beloved “U.S. Postal gods.”

“Yes, but it’s brown,” I contested, “and I have too much brown.  And it’s twelve dollars. That’s a visit to the vet…and, it—it’s just not practical. Besides, it won’t keep my ears warm in the winter.”

The truth is that I’d been a fan of the color since age ten, staring up at the life-sized Eddie Vedder poster next to my bed. That corduroy jacket draped over hidden biceps could persuade a vegetarian to crave meat. Beneath those brown ripples, a lighter brown, form-fitted tee stretched over the lean, yet muscular chest, concealing my view.  But I knew it was there. It held mystery in the way a plastic Ken doll’s flesh-colored skivvies did. Above that beautifully sculpted chest were the most haunting and  brilliant blue eyes I’d ever seen.  They reminded me of  my own.

***

     Mom had hope that we might one day win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. To be entered into the drawing, one had to purchase a magazine subscription.  Mom didn’t read magazines, really. She read Real Estate Reviews and bank statements. Whenever we’d travel to another state she’d pick up the house magazines just to dream about the houses. I grew up in these houses. The lock box was such a sacred invention. Her lockbox keys dangled from a large, spiraling red keychain. The keys to the universe, I thought, we can go anywhere.

I read magazines from back to front. People always want to start at the beginning.  Even though this magazine was the most expensive subscription of the lot of them (a bi-weekly publication, in fact) Mom ordered Rolling Stone Magazine for meWhen I got the magazine, I sought after whatever intrigued me. Any glint of brown corduroy and buddy, I was there. I think to get where you were meant to be you need to dive right in—especially when the water’s cold. After all, warm water isn’t usually a good sign.

Most children have two times a year to feel the postal love:  Birthdays and Christmases. Unless you were born in December like me and get the all-in-one treatment. Shortly after the divorce, Dad made his presence known in the form of a $50 dollar check sandwiched between the parchment of a Chr-birthday card I valued more. It was signed off in nearly illegible left-handed scrawl, much like my own:

“I love you, Dad.”

But that, like the idea of having something constant in my life, disappeared too quickly. And there I stood on that summer day, the kind that hugs you with its humidity, pulling my treasure out of the compact, metal box. In a white rectangle at the bottom cover of the Rolling Stone it read: Recipient: Rachael Goetzke.

When my parents still lived together in our glass    mansion I used to check the mail regularly. My heart would thrum at the sight of the capital “R” followed by the “C” and the “H” and the “A” until I focused in on the “I” the “R” and the “D.”   Richard, instead.  Mail for dad, though he went by Dick.  I still don’t understand how the appropriate nickname for Richard is Dick. Even as my brother and I stood in the breezeway of our modest, brown wooden paneled house and he taught me the latest swear word he learned at school that day, I knew that Dick just didn’t sound right for Richard.

Staring at the cover that first day that music and     writing eloped in my head I knew this bond would be postmarked on me forever. And when Eddie sang between the pages, I sang along from a spring hidden deep inside my rib cage, below the more obvious scar tissue.

There, in the middle of K-mart, he was serenading me from my internal radio as I stared down at the brown bowler hat. “Oh dear Dad, can you see me now?  I am myself, like you somehow.  I’ll ride the wave where it takes me…I’ll hold the pain release me, release me….”1

Recently, I paired together those same shades from childhood without fully realizing their significance. The light brown shirt, the dark brown enrobing the light brown the way a Milky Way bar does. In fact, I called it my Milky Way get-up. These earthy browns made me feel closer to Eddie. A new friend of mine told me, “Girl, you need some color in your wardrobe. You look like the UPS guy.” At first, I was hurt by her words. I’d tried pink but it didn’t feel right on me. Cathy always wore pink. Purple was her favorite, but she sparkled in pink and she had an affinity for sparkly things.

“Try it on,” her golden voice urged beneath the glare of fluorescent lights. But I already knew that this hat would feel right on my head.

1 Pearl Jam_“Release”_Ten_Epic,1991.

***

Until I Say So
by Andrea Janov

August –

we mill around the yard          and in the streets

Sharon’s 17th birthday party

the whole crew together again

we   mill   around   the   yard   and   in   the   streets

I hug RJ         careful to avoid Dave

the whole crew together again

along with new friends we each brought along

Dave flirts with Steph  :  Mandy  :  Jess          careful that I notice

we leave old friends mid-         sentence

for new friends we each brought along

the sun sets   :   street lights stutter

we leave           old friends mid sentence

distracted –

the sun sets   :   street lights stutter

we flirt with crushes

distracted –

break up           with boyfriends : girlfriends :  best friends

we flirt

comfortable in our selfishness

we break up with boyfriends  :  girlfriends  :  best           friends

I wander          to the Swoyersville Little League Field

comfortable alone

shouts and laughter             leak from the party

the Swoyersville Little League Field

stare              at the spot where the paint doesn’t match

shouts    and    laughter    leak    from    the    party

I sit on the curb :  legs rest against blacktop        still warm from the sun

stare               at the spot where the paint doesn’t match

sneak a glance of my past

the blacktop still            warm from the sun

Justin laughs,       they were never able cover it…

sneaking        glances of our past

Sharon’s 17th birthday party

Mark looks at me, I guess not everything fades…

August –

***

Mousetrap

By Edward Lupico

When spring has sprung,
raining down on neck and wood,
red sometimes flows
as from a Tudor beheading,
on a replenishing altar,
bloodstained by purpose.

Unobserved, by the baseboard,
preserving the Heisenberg;
until, licking the last of the peanut butter,
the unwelcome pest catalysts
eternal rest;
then we measure…
you are in the red, you rascal,
no way out of this one.

I hear your tiny claws on the roof of my dream:
Here, hovering as I awaken,
like a chanced-upon image
from a silent film—
black and white, flight, never to land—
I pick you up with my hand
and bury you in the dried ferns.

What device did the Prince conceive
when he baited for a poisonous exeunt?
We hold our breath for the snap of death.
It is all suspense, moving our stories forward;
after each release, renewing the spring.
Will we trap something gray and ordinary,
or catch a king?

***

A Poem by Frank Walsh

The tyger leis
Down with the ewe
A man kind has his view
While miss this stage
Crew cut for a cast
Called for playing with stuff
With some of the stuff dug
Down in the flats, under
The red velvet fire curtain
Only the peak of a nose
And smile at the end
Of his awning snout
The lambs hocked and screwed
Up even as a green lion stalks
Even as the tigers shout
“Evermore, old boy romantic
Dust even now, you seasoned chump.”

***

iCharity by Mortification
by Iris Johnston

Pocket the panic of steel-speared fish
the boredom of cardboard box men,
steal the thirst from the tongues
of the ducks bound with twine
on the live market floor,
and sponge up the tears of the shinershy wives.
Then make a paste
with all of these
and all the love
he did not have for me,and pour it in my ears.
Make my head heavy and hard, so dense I cannot think
or hear, can neither nod nor frown.
Put me to bed on a bamboo grass mat,
wake me when the clocks all run down.

***

On the Highway Home
by Brian Fanelli

 Long branches stick out, narrow and dull,
as you drive along the highway,
praying for overbearing winter to end.
You think of your kid, your wife
at home, if they shoveled
the sidewalk, if the remaining car
is buried beneath mounds of white.
Your chest tightens as you remember
the low amount of milk in the fridge,
the few slices of bread left.
You think of the basement furnace
that chokes like a smoker’s lung,
the cold that pushes against the house.
You remember Frost’s poem “Storm Fear,”
the raw winds that squelched the cabin fire,
the family of three trapped inside, their safety
so distant. You think of night, so cold and heavy, and count
the hours until you’re home,
safe, back from the business trip. You wonder
how you’ll drive over black ice, through pelts of hail,
how you’ll survive, knuckles white on the wheel.

***

Perspective
by Luciana Celestine

As I walked down the hallway, I never lifted my eyes from the floor. Medicinal disinfectant lingered in the air, stinging my nostrils. The cacophony of beeps, buzzes and whirrs composed a symphony for the sick and dying. Hurried footsteps rushed past me. I listened to hushed conversations amongst family members as I continued on. Furrowed brows. Pained eyes. As I approached Mr. Stewart’s room, I could not help but sigh. Everything was wrong. From the hallway, I saw the shape of his feet buried underneath a pile of blankets. I hesitated before rapping on his door with the lightest touch, hoping maybe he wouldn’t hear me at all.

No response at all. Fine, I thought. I shouldn’t have been there anyway. I stuck my hand into my coat pocket and pulled out my keys. Then, I heard, “It’s ok. You can come in.”

Dammit.

I took a soft step around the corner, and I did not even recognize the man in the bed. His cheeks were hollow and his blue and white printed hospital gown hung off of his skinny shoulders. Completely bald except for a few patches of fuzzy brown hair, he looked weak, not like the apex of manliness and strength I envisioned as a teenager. He was chained to so many tubes and IVs that he reminded me of a prisoner locked away in some archaic jail. But then, he smiled faintly and his brown eyes sparkled just a little bit. That sense of familiarity rang, and I smiled too.

“I barely recognize you without your beard,” I said as I ran my fingers through my hair.

He laughed a little then said, “You always loved to pick on me for that.”

“Actually, my favorite target was your sunflower tie,” I said as I sat down on the pleather mauve chair.

“Ah yes, that’s right. Every time I turned around to write something on the blackboard I heard you laughing.”

“It was all in good fun,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. It was an impossible task.

He looked down at his hands, which he folded gently in his lap. His knuckles were big and knobby and I tried not to stare. He glanced up at the soccer game on television and then asked, “Why are you here?”

“I came to hand in my Latin homework. I know it’s a little late,” I said with a completely straight face. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was really there because my favorite teacher was dying from leukemia.  I wanted to see him one last time and make fun of him for nostalgia’s sake. He probably knew that reason at least.

“Do you remember your first declension endings?” he asked, a big smile spreading across his gaunt face.

Finally.

Feeling as though I had accomplished the greatest feat in the world, I sat up straight and stated, “Agricola, agricolae.”

“What case is that?”

“I have no idea,” I said with a laugh. “That’s why you had to give me that book. I only know that word means ‘farmer’ because it was the first word in the text. I am truly clueless about the rest.”

He raised his eyebrows and smiled. Yes. I was the absolute worst Latin student who had ever lived, and Mr. Stewart had me sitting right in front of his desk. Dead languages were not my area of interest. In fact, Latin class was my favorite time to plot my next dirty deed. As I looked at him   lying in that bed, I felt a sudden pang of guilt but was reminded of a particularly hilarious prank I had pulled. I spent an entire period penning a fake love letter in Latin to my future class valedictorian. At the end of the day I slid the letter into his locker, which read, “You are a Roman god and I want your body.”

I nearly laughed out loud but held my breath, sure that Mr. Stewart had noticed my broken concentration. I recovered with, “So why did you give me that book anyway?”

“So that you could graduate.”

“Thanks for that,” I said, “I really needed the help.”

“Well, we didn’t want you around for another year. We were all tired of hearing you scream, ‘Fetus!’ in the hallway.”

Just as I was about to apologize for being the annoying student, a nurse walked into the room. “Excuse me, could you step out for a moment?” she asked, her hand filled with all sorts of vials.

I looked at Mr. Stewart and said, “It’s ok. I really should be going anyway.”

“Thanks for coming,” he said without meeting my eyes.

“It was no problem. I knew you were here, and I just wanted to stop by,” I said as I stood up.

The air in the room changed. Mr. Stewart clenched his jaw. I could not imagine what it had been like for him, having to depend on strangers to keep him alive, unable to even shift his own weight in bed. It was so unfair, such an unbearable tragedy that I found myself fighting back tears.

“You’re the only one of my students who came to see me,” he muttered.

My throat tightened. The nurse looked to the chair where I had been sitting. I unbuttoned my jacket and slid it off, then threw it over the arm of the chair. Slowly, I walked into the hallway. I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall,    exhaling deeply. I hung my head and listened once again to the buzzes, beeps and whirrs. This time, they built to a hopeful crescendo. Nothing is fair. Mr. Stewart lay in the bed on the other side of the wall, fighting long after they had told him to stop. And suddenly, my breath felt precious.

***

Recycling
by Charles O’Donnell

I’ve seen this work before:
the peregrine has torn
you from your spine
which lies by
your unlucky foot,
your tufts of brown-gray fur.
I used to watch you feed
on summer clover.
So little flesh
is left on you
the flies don’t even care.
I drop you at the dump
on piles of Spring debris.
When I look up,
the rest of you is circling.

***

Firewood
by Dawn Leas

A shy sort of soul, he still prefers her voice,
a velvety alto, to the silence. When she says

there is always time,
his mind goes to work,
a mental sketch. The rise and fall of his

powerful arms splits wood so splinters
become embers. He contemplates

the image, turning it over and over, pauses
to sketch, folds paper into pocket for later…

his breath heaves into fall air. In the evening,
he climbs plank stairs to the  studio. His body

curls over work bench, the sketch tacked
to its surface. Intricate handiwork and metal.

One precious stone. Her voice…it’s never too late…
His back kept warm by an ancient stone

fireplace, its pops and hisses dwindling
as night turns to morning.

***

Contributors

Luciana Celestine always wanted to be a scientist, but her horrible math skills made her think that maybe science was the wrong path to follow. She discovered that her unique way of describing things translated well to writing, so she picked up her pen. The rest is colorful history. Luciana  received her BA in English from King’s College and her MA in Creative Writing fromWilkesUniversity. She lives in Pittston with her boy and her dog.

Laura Duda and her husband own and operate a horsedrawn carriage business inFell Township,PA.  Laura is the mother of a 23-year-old daughter.  She is a graduate ofLackawannaCollege, where she is also employed, andKeystoneCollege.  She is presently a student inWilkesUniversity’s Creative Writing MA program.

Brian Fanelli’s poems have appeared in The Portland   ReviewHarpur PalateSolstice Literary MagazineWord Riot, Boston Literary Magazine, and other journals. He is also the author of the chapbook Front Man, and his first full-length book of poems will be published next summer by the small press Unbound Content. For more, visit: www.brianfanelli.com

Rachael Goetzke is co-founder and Managing Editor of Word Fountain.  She hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her poetry and prose have been published in Word Fountain, The Cohort Review and Ripasso. She has her MFA in Creative Writing fromWilkesUniversity. You can find more of her writing here:

http://kindalikeapoet.wordpress.com

Andrea Janov is a recent transplant to Pittsburgh who was raised 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 Creative Writing degrees from SUNY Purchase and Wilkes University.  www.andreajanov.com

Iris Johnston can’t decide if she is more satisfied by    flowers and ponds, or Sephora and Thai food. She currently hopes to discover the existence of a Nail Polish Tree.

Dawn Leas earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Her work has appeared on goldwakepress.org, Willows Wept ReviewSouthern Women’s      Review, Literary MamaEast Meets West, American    Writers Review, Interstice, and othersFinishing Line Press published her first chapbook, I Know When To Keep Quiet, in 2010. Currently, she is a middle-school English teacher.

Michael Lindgren is a poet and musician who divides his time betweenPennsylvania andNew York City.

Edward Lupico is a librarian who enjoys dogs, requiems, Belgian beer, and words, though rarely at the same time.

Charles O’Donnell works at Arts Seen Gallery onPublic Square inWilkes-Barre where he organizes the Third     Friday of the Month spoken word events.

Frank Walsh hails from the Miner Mills “parish” ofWilkes-Barre. Possessed by reading/writing enabled by the graces of the Osterhout. Underground LiteraryAlliance. Asst. Editor for Poetry, DeaddrunkDublin.com.          Philadelphia poet since early 1970’s having attended Drexel andTempleU. Back in the area working for       National Emergency Grant, Flood Reclamation.

email: wordfountain@osterhout.lib.pa.us

Submission guidelines:

http://www.osterhout.lib.pa.us/WordFountain.htm

http://www.facebook.com/thelibrarywordfountain

https://thelibrarywordfountain.wordpress.com

570-823-0156 w  Fax: 570-823-5477

 

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Music Issue, No. 4

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
whenever.

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,
we should,
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:
black enaction
presaging violence.

Irruptions purge
indifferent ground;
Air impinged
by nascent sound.

Blare and cadence:
a spear hurled
severs heaven and silver;
Thundered, the world.

Crux descends, precipitate
wood scrapes stone—
Mythic choreography
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

inhale
and
walk into a bar
tap the counter
order the pina colada
finger the glass’s rim
bottoms up
and
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
fermata
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
rest
look up and start the solo-ridin’
don’t look back as multiple crashes lead to a
bang
silence for a moment
and
exhale

***

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
around them
under them
as they migrate towards one another.

Her braces blink
pink
green
disco ball blue—
His face shines squeaky with sweat.
Their fingers lock like a knot
as they whirlwind around
swooshing in circles—
flying wingless
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
desire

I pace back and forth
across your apartment
across my mind
sifting through the tension
like the chaos of Zorn

legs
lips
sex…
jazz

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
another night
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.

***

Contributors

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:

http://kindalikeapoet.wordpress.com/

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.

manic-frustration.blogspot.com/ 

fin

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
570-823-0156
wordfountain@osterhout.lib.pa.us

The First Youth Issue

The following is the literary portion of our first Youth Issue. Enjoy!

“I looked out the window and I saw…” by Christina Cherkis

I looked out the window and I saw a bushy-tailed squirrel. I continued to watch the squirrel because he seemed to be running around without a purpose. Soon I found out he did have a purpose. That purpose was gathering walnuts from my neighbor’s tree for food for the winter. The squirrel ran all around my backyard on the alert for some animals or enemies to take his precious stash. He soon buried the nuts to be found later in the winter when needed.

After a while, I noticed other squirrels visiting the neighbor’s tree. It
reminded me of grocery stores and people shopping. The squirrels ran up and down the tree just like people run up and down the aisles looking for their
groceries especially during the holidays and a forecast of bad weather.
The squirrels were hurrying to prepare for winter.

I wondered what else the squirrels do to prepare for winter. How do the squirrels remember where they hide their food? Where do they live? How do they survive the winter? You never know what you will see and the questions that may come up when you look out the window.

***

Untitled
by Anissah Baht-Tom

It’s funny how the little things
Can simply be fascinating
From skies of blue
To ants on the ground
A child’s laugh
Every smile
Every frown
The morning sun’s graceful hello
And the full moon’s angelic glow
Oh, how I love to watch the little things
With their special brand of enlightening
It’s funny how the little things
Can simply be fascinating.

***
Who’s There
by Kristen Cunningham

As I walk through the room
Made of glass
I feel like someone is following me But
Everything is silent
It was only a
Dream

***

Untitled
by Bizzy-B

Listen students you all are aware of the rules. You don’t like it tell it to the Principal of the school. Summer vacation don’t start till June. Until then stop dreaming about the sand dune. If you and somebody decide to get in a tussle, just think school is for your brain, not your muscle. She likes kids who always use their manners, and always remember the Star Spangled Banner. When you’re in class don’t worry what time is on the clock. You’ll be out of here when the hands are on the dot. Listen kids there’s no time to play tag. Just turn around and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag”. Don’t cause the Principal any frustration cause you’re just here in school to get an education. You’re not alone. Everybody has to do it across the nation. In class don’t even eat your brunch. You hungry? Just save it for lunch. You’re a classroom you’re all in one bunch. If there’s an argument don’t use a kick or punch.

***

Everlasting Days
by Larissa Stucker

Building sandcastles until our
Fingers turn to prune,
Singing songs when we
Know we’re out of tune

Running in the rain
Even though my mom will yell,
Sharing our deepest, darkest secrets
That we thought we’d never tell

There is nothing we can say
That we won’t understand
We do everything spontaneously,
Nothing ever planned

I find it hard to believe
That you won’t be around
Just remember you’re my friend
A friend that I have found.

***

Walking
by Cassidy Lupico

I walk along the street
the tall lamps reflecting off
the wet road

I keep my head down
I don’t want to be noticed

I think of you
I don’t know why, but I do

Why would I want to?
The pain you have caused me

I’m lost for a moment,
Lost in thought

I shake it off
I keep on walking

***

Help Me! (By Tom Goblet)
by Laurel Nestor

I’m Tom Goblet. I am a turkey. Please don’t eat me. I’m going to ask you not to eat me. I say this because I’m better off in a meadow. My whole chest is a copper plate. And finally, I have mold growing in me.
First, I’d do much better in a meadow. You think killing animals is wrong? Trust me that boat goes both ways. There is a new thing called a tofurky. It doesn’t hurt me. Plus you get a good and tasty meal. Plus it saves the time plucking and taking off my feathers and taking out my organs. It’s the right thing to do.
Second, I’ve got a copper plate in my chest. When I was a kid, I was hit by a car. Putting in the plate was the only way to save me. Plus I’ve got no meat in my chest. I can’t eat spicy food, and I don’t breathe in my sleep.

Finally, I have mold in me. I was on a plane to Berlin, and the plane crashed. I ate moldy food for a month. Because of the mold, I now have mold in my lungs, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and acid reflux. I’m not fit to eat anyway. I hope I’ve persuaded you not to eat me because I have mold in my lungs, I’m too much work, and I’m not fit to be eaten by you.

***

A Fairy Tail by Ike
by Jeremy Klapat

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess, a very dumb villager, a village, and an evil demon. The villager named Steven, JD and stuff, he was very dumb, saw a beautiful Princess, named Alee, crying. Steven asked her why she was crying. She said that her brother Prince Trevor was captured by an evil demon. Steven told princess Alee that his fish’s will to dance on land was taken away by the evil demon also. Right then, Steven pulled out a large bass he caught from the river and threw it to the ground and yelled, “Why did you stop dancing, fishy?”
He paused for a moment listening for an answer from the dead fish. He then went on to say, “It’s ok, fishy. I will get your will back from the demon, you’ll see.”
Alee and Steven went into the village to look for clues. When they went into the village they met a two-headed witch named Coblestoneonlivingroomfloor. The witch was once two witches, but when they married, they joined together. Coblestoneonlivingroomfloor told them that they saw the evil demon named Sammy entering the Forest of the Evil Demon Sammy. The princess Alee told Steven that they should have looked there first.
Steven said back at her, “But what about Fishy?”
Princess Alee and Steven went into the forest and walked the trail for two days where they found a hot spring with a very evil-looking castle next to it. Alee and Steven went to the hot spring and found the evil demon chillin’ in a lounge chair next to the hot spring. Alee and Steven looked at the castle and saw it was only a cardboard cut-out so that people wouldn’t go into the forest and find the hot spring.
They then captured the evil demon Sammy and removed his hood. The evil demon wasn’t a demon at all. It ended up only being Prince Trevor in a black robe with goat horns taped onto his forehead.
Princess Alee said, “Why did you do all this?”
Prince Trevor replied, “I found a hot spring, and I didn’t want anyone to find it so I made it look as if an evil demon lived here so no one would know.”
Steven then said, “Oh my gosh….the evil demon took the form of Prince Trevor, but where is my fishy’s will to dance?”
Prince Trevor told him to throw the fishy into the lake, wait four minutes, go back and catch him, and he will dance again.
Then Princess Alee and Fairy Thomas lived happily never after all of this.

***

The Accidental Discovery
by Asher Smart

As Denzel Higgerman took a last look at the debris and ash that took the place of what used to be his house from Lilison Dock, it seemed to him as if his life had taken a big drop like a roller coaster. He looked out over a boat tied to the dock with the name Splotion painted across both its sides.

He had no sailing experience at all, though he knew he had to leave. As he stepped into it, he felt as if someone else’s presence was in it. He slowly searched for the control area. Finally when he found it, someone walked from behind him.

“Are you Mr. Higgerman?” he asked.

“Yes,” he answered, completely caught off guard.

“Welcome aboard,” the strange man greeted.
Then he took the wheel while Denzel untied the rope. In a moment the man had steered them away from the dock. Denzel noticed that the man non-stop steered the boat without saying a word. As land approached, things started to get a little bit treacherous and the sky started to get furious with angry rain clouds.

Waves started toppling over each other. Before they knew it, a gigantic whirlpool appeared in their path. Each second they drew closer to their doom. Then, suddenly, the boat plunged into the deep, dark, and dangerous whirlpool.

Gradually they opened their eyes. They figured that they ended up in a trench in the Caribbean Sea. However, the surprising thing was that they could breathe and they were underwater! When they stood up everything felt closed in. Many undiscovered creatures swam around them, but the most mysterious thing was a big structure covered with the tan sand. Their curiosity led them to go explore the hidden structure. As they drew closer their mouths opened wide in amazement and awe. They realized that they had discovered the lost city of ATLANTIS! They knew it was the city because there was a huge sign that said ATLANTIS!

The man ran towards the main Atlantis hub (the big structure). His weight caused an underwater avalanche. The building started to break down. Denzel and the man fell down on their faces. Denzel quickly got up and ran as fast as he could away from the site forgetting about the man. Soon, Denzel realized that the man was no longer with him. He waited days for him in the trench, but he finally decided that the man did not make it.

That same day, Denzel swam up to the surface of the water. A couple hours later a trading boat found him and took him in. He had suffered from hypothermia from being in the water for too long, but he survived and slowly recovered.

A year later he got married and had kids. He never told about the Atlantis discovery to any soul, not even his wife and kids.
After twenty years, Denzel thought of searching again for the lost city of Atlantis. He went to the same location where the discovery was first made. Unfortunately, there was no sign or trace of it.

Today the mystery of Atlantis remains unsolved…

***

Untitled
by Aaron Pekar

One day in the state of Kentucky there was a state park with lots of trees, but an evil cat lady put catnip in the trees to attract all the cats in the state. The cats walked through the city bothering all the citizens by eating their food, knocking plants out of windows and attacking bald people. When they finally got to the park they started scratching at the trees because of the catnip. All was well until the trees came to life for no reason and started a war with the cats. They started smacking the cats with their branches and the cats were clawing at the trees with their claws. In the end the trees were victorious and attacked the crazy cat lady for attracting the cats in the first place.

The End

***

Untitled
by Said Abdul Qayir

I walk the halls like
A ghost
I’m Casper with no
Coat I’m a nobody with no
Notes nobody cares nobody understands
Me ‘cause I’m me. Everyone thinks
They know me but they don’t know me
I smile and rhyme every time but deep down
Inside I’m cryin’ shouting for help
But no one cares ‘cause I’m me
So stop playin’ like you care for
Me ‘cause no one cares for me I’m
A nobody
Who are you
Are you a nobody, too…?

***

Haiku
by Cassidy Lupico

fish in the ocean
moving along flip-flipping
their fins they swim forth

***

An excerpt from
Atmosphere’s: Greatest Fears Series / Zombies and Trolls
by Jacob Allen

(Previously: a zombie attack has plagued the boys’ house and town and they are in the midst of trying to defeat the zombie invasion…)

“What are we going to do?” they asked.

“I don’t know. I’m tired. Mind if I sleep and you guys cover for me?”

They said, “No, Jacob, focus! We need to concentrate.”

I said, “Fine, but when this is over, when we get home, I’m taking an extra long nap.”

They said, “Fine, but we were supposed to have a sleepover, not fight zombies.”

I said, “It’s not my fault they picked us, right?”

“Oh no!”

“What? He’s coming?”

“Great! He’s coming closer. Run! Split up!”

Baron Samedi said, “I’ll get you!”

I said, “I’d like to see you try!”

He said, “Ok, then I will come closer.”

I then said to the zombie, “Never!”

He said, “So be it, human. Let our war begin again, in my place!”

I said, “I’m not scared.” He said, “Oh, really.” I said, “Yep.”

He said, “Okay, see what you think of this!” Zombie guts. AAAAWWWWW!

“Ha ha,” said the zombie.

Aaron came out with a bulldozer. I said, “Yeah, thanks for blocking me!”
“Sorry,” he said.
“No problem,” I said, “Take care of him. I’m going to change.” All I could find was zombie clothes, but it will do.

Aaron said, “You look like a zombie. Go put some make-up on and steal some zombie power and pretend you’re a zombie.”

“Okay,” I said, “But I don’t think it’s going to work.”

“It will,” he said. “Go! Keep going!” yelled Aaron.

“I am!” I said.
Jacob did a flip and then, SLASH! BAM! CLAM! SLAM! BOMB! “It didn’t work, Aaron, “ I said.

“I thought that it would. I’m sorry. I just wanted to help trying to show all of you I was capable of doing more,” he said.

“You young punk! Showing off is the thing that gets us killed. This is war!” I said. “Say, where is Cody?” I said.

He said, “I haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s spying on Baron Samedi, the zombie.”

“Okay, I see him!” I said. “Yeah, here we go!” I said.

“I’m better than you!” he said.

“Oh, yeah?” I said.

“Yeah!” he said.

“Take this!” I said.
SLASH! BAM! BOOM! BAM! SLAM! AAAAAWWWWW! “That’s payback for your stupid zombie guts!” I said.

“Whatever!” he said.

“Sorry,” I said, “not okay. I don’t like you at all!”

“I know,” he said.

“Now when you stop being mean to everyone, maybe they will.” I said.

“Maybe,” he said. I blasted my gun. Four guns, that is my energy bolt, electric gun air fire. “I use my zombie guts!” he said.

“My strength is full,” said Jacob.

“You are just like the fallen from the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” I said. Well, that just blew him off! He got so mad he started throwing axes at us so we ran behind the big cat Tonka truck. I picked up one of the axes he threw and threw the ax at him. It hit his stitches and cut it open. “It isn’t that gross!” I’ve seen worse, like what, I really don’t want to talk about it. “Yuck! Where is Cody again?” I said. “I don’t know.” I said, “Cody, where are you?”

“SHHHHHHHHHHH…I’m over here!” he said.
“Ok,” I said, “Let’s make a map and follow the zombie and we will know where they are going, ok?”

“Complicated,” he said.

“Shut up!” I said.

“No!” he said.

“Knock it off!” I said. I’m nine years old. I’m allowed to say “shut up” except in front of my baby sister. She will copy and I will get in trouble. Great, just great. Here comes a zombie.”

Justin throws a pile of footballs and basketballs at him. “Ough, stupid!” the zombie said. “Shut up, glowboy!” Justin said.

“Justin,” I said, “the shot!” BAM! Right in his chest! “Pull the top! Squeeze!” I said. All greenish brownish blood! “Yuck! Do it where his spinal cord is, ok?” I said. “Go, Justin, oh yeah! Sweet!” I said. “Tie him up! What’s that black thing hanging out of his pocket? Get it!”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he said. “Don’t! Please, no!” he said.

“Please, yes!” I said. “Take it! It looks like a map, an ancient treasure strength map. There will be a special power in this treasure chest. It starts from here to the swamp. It says: If you can beat the big power rock.” I said. Scary. I now said, “Now tell me about it!”

“Shut up!” he said.

“Fat tart!” I said.

“No!” said the zombie.

To be continued…

The Polish Room by George Below

You can feel the pride, life, and history of community
All this concealed in one Boleslawiec eight-inch plate
Universal edge, touching its white rim
Eyes moving in to a blue band

Inside situated intermittently brown bars connecting on to
An undulating brown band, again those transverse brown bars
That melds to a blue band, yet traveling in
To pastoral green circling band

Centering in blue astron stars of flowering curves
Three platen astrum cobalt blue stars
Step out into history Polish image revealed
A head erect close people with identity to defend
Centrally large stands the Flag high
Gathered congregations conversing intimately
To the right, people tightly Catholic mingle
At the very forefront an agrarian scene

Man and a horse plowing the field, yet still closer
A woman sows seed by hand of life
Evening relaxes the day’s toil, the stars twinkle with release
Farmer and wife enter their hearth
She with her fertile picked bouquet of blue aster for centerpiece
The farmer at the head, wife setting the platter
To renew the pastoral cycle through genesis sustained
In her hand she held memories of family past
With intrinsic power she carries the future round
The proud unbroken glimpse is all unveiled
In a circular eight-inch plate

Before and After Agnes by Cheri Sundra

The 8 mm film is still partially covered with mud. For many years, it sat in a dresser at my grandmother’s house, next to the dike built to hold back the waters of the Susquehanna River. As a child, I pulled the blue and white roll out of the dresser drawer countless times and tried to see the images captured by my grandfather, in the miniscule frames, by holding them up to a light bulb. All that I ever saw was something that looked like a hazy reddish blurb of illumination in the center, near the top of each frame, at the beginning of the roll. Still, I tried to catch a glimpse of something, time and time again. The film projector, like many other possessions, was lost forever to the flood waters of 1972.
For people of a certain age, life in Luzerne County is only measured in two ways–there is life before the Agnes Flood and life after Agnes. To my childhood self, this film seemed to hold a secret since it possessed the ability to exist in both the “before and “after” simultaneously.
About two years before Agnes, my grandfather’s obituary in the
local newspaper said that while he was working as a pipe fitter, he was “stricken with a heart seizure.” When I attempted to fill in the blanks of my family history at the library, I learned that death notices were often very dramatic before Agnes. The obituaries seemed to warn of innocent victims who were “taken” or “claimed” by death, allowing the insinuation to linger that implied you could be next.
During the last moments before Agnes, my grandmother sat in stillness, saying over and over again that she wished that my grandfather was still alive. A police officer knocked on the door and told us urgently to evacuate the area. There were sirens in the background screaming warnings into the night as rain beat down on the pavement. That is when the time known as “before Agnes” officially ended for me.
About 18 years after Agnes, my grandmother died. For the first Christmas after her death, I took that flood stained home movie to a camera shop to have it converted to VHS format so I could give copies as gifts to family members. The reddish blurb on the film turned out to be lights on a Christmas tree. It was a Christmas before Agnes, before the deaths of my grandparents and before the arrival of the last three grandchildren who would complete the next generation.
I don’t remember much about my grandfather who passed away when I was in kindergarten. I have no real sense of him as a person other than that he was a hard worker—which was a badge of honor in this community built by the history of European immigrants and anthracite coal. After he died, my grandfather was known to me only by his absence, just like on the last night before Agnes. It’s somehow fitting that a man defined by his not being present was also unseen in the one home movie that survived the flood.
I don’t know much about my family history. The lives of my great-grandparents have been reduced to nothing more than names from the pages of local obituaries only mentioned as the parents of those who have died. I only know the names of two ancestors who came before them. The best explanation I can think of is that they must have been people who were so caught up in the hard work and struggle of just trying to survive, that concern for the present always had to trump contemplation and preservation of the past.

Amelia with the Rock in her Pocket by Patricia Florio

Big brown eyes, a dimple in her chin,
Amelia with the rock in her pocket.

She captures my heart with a smile and a grin,
Amelia with the rock in her pocket.

She’s much more than my grandchild,
She’s much more than a friend:
A shadow, a playmate, a pleasure,
A namesake, a special blessing within.

We go to the beach on a Sunday
She buries her toes in the sand.

Seashells she puts in a bucket,
Rocks she holds in her hands.

One rock she says, “oh, so pretty,”
That one she’ll put to the side.

Later she’ll hide it, in the washer I’ll find it,
My funny little bundle of pride.

With her hair up so curly, a sweet little girlie,
That’s my Amelia with the rock in her pocket.

The Feathered Bathing Cap by Ivy Miller

I used to count the multitude of tiny blood blisters on her back. Her large body was tightly packed into an armored bathing suit. She was the only woman at the pool who put her lipstick on before she got into the water. She swam gracefully, careful to keep her feathered bathing cap from getting wet. I used to sit curled into a little ball following her with my eyes in total fascination.
My Aunt Leona loomed large in more than her physical appearance. She led an ordered life and if you were with her—you led one, too. I used to stay with her for a couple of weeks every summer as a child. She spoiled me rotten and planned every detail of my life for 14 days. We would go to the grocery store and she would say, “Get anything you want.” Anything I want? Powdered donuts, ice cream, pita bread. No request was too weird for Aunt Leona but I always had to wash it down with prune juice. For those two weeks each summer I found it easiest to forget myself entirely and just float along.

She glides across the water like a jewelry box ballet dancer. Her feathered bathing cap flutters lightly in the wind. The sun dries the tiny pearly beads of water on her back.

Aunt Leona was beautiful. I used to stare for hours at her “modeling shots” taken in the 1940s. They pictured: Aunt Leona rubbing her high-heeled feet as she sat on the side of a rocky mountain path; a spotless Aunt Leona sitting high upon a horse in the middle of a rodeo; a totally confident and warm Aunt Leona donning skis on top of a quaint little slope. Now, the Aunt Leona I knew wouldn’t get on a merry-go-round, take a walk in the grass, or go further than knee-deep in the ocean for fear something terrible would happen. But the contradictions only made her more fascinating to me because the same expression she bore knee-deep in the ocean was the same one she had high on the horse. And behind that expression I could almost hear her voice saying, “I am in dominion of all I see. I am in perfect control.”

I can’t see her legs under the water and it makes her look like she is moving by some invisible force. Whatever it is it keeps her pace steady and even.

My aunt took me on countless vacations. Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. New York City. Lake George. She took me shopping and swimming. To concerts and scenic overlooks. To art shows and plays. These excursions always had tight itineraries. No time for side trips, laying around, or between-meal snacks. She bought me dresses for high school dances and fixed my hair for parties. She got up at seven a.m. to bake and lay cookies on a three-tiered tray for my wedding. Everything she did was smooth and practiced. I saw her as someone who could conquer any situation and make it manageable, someone who could take chaos, grab it by the throat, and choke it into submission.
My aunt was a study in balanced perfectionism. She never got in over her head. She never went out of the house without being appropriately and stylishly dressed. At weddings and parties, she slid across the dance floor with my uncle the same way she slid through the water at Hammonds pool. And through it all she always had the same expression.

Her hands move in circles in front of her, swirling the water around her painted nails. There is silence as the sun dances across the pool. There are other people but they are diminished by her presence.

My aunt had the longest and most noble battle with breast cancer in history. In 1983, when I first heard her dire prognosis, I immediately fell down the stairs of my Philadelphia apartment into a heap of blubbering tears. My roommates, desperate to help me, exclaimed, “They have some drugs these days.”

Some might credit the drugs for my aunt’s 18 years of struggle with this awesome disease, but I believe it was her will and her will alone that kept her alive. Even in her last days when she was in a hospital bed and gasping for air—she was beautiful. And in her eyes I could hear her voice—steady, maintained, and unwavering.

I close my eyes so I can hear her breathing—but I can’t. All I see is that graceful body, that feathered bathing cap, and that face. She is in dominion of all she sees, she is in perfect control, she is at peace.