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Poems of the Pennypack – (Moonstone Press)

g emil reutter’s Poems of the Pennypack has just been released by Moonstone Press. The chapbook captures the respite the park provides to residents from the bustle of city life, reutter’s affinity for the park and the nature that thrives in it.

What Others Say:

Poems of the Pennypack is a forthright book, which reflects a lifetime of exploring a place and one’s self in relation to that place. The poems have a quiet clarity as the book becomes both guide and map. g emil reutter writes, “Beauty and violence of nature in plain view / in this nature sanctuary of Philadelphia / called Pennypack.” Reading the poems now in the spring of 2020 readers may find some of the solace they have been seeking and noticing again in nature. As reutter writes, “nature has reclaimed it, meadows, forest and wildlife are abundant.” There is always more to explore, but there are no pyrotechnics. The book is direct and unselfconscious and the poems keep hitting closer and closer to home. -Thomas Devaney

On Line at : https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/g-emil-reutter-poems-of-the-pennypack/221?cs=true%20

Now available: The Pennypack Environmental Center, 8600A Verree Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19115.

Bad Things Happened by Holly Day

church
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Bad Things Happened by Holly Day
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We could feel the spirits only when we sat
by the walls. There was something left behind by those who sat
just there, under His eyes, in the back row of hard, wooden pews
the fear of God. There was such an obvious difference between where
the good Christians and the bad Christians sat in that place.
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They were as powerful as they were exotic, the ghosts
of terror, His omniscience, the flapping of stained sheets
just out of sight. Their eyes bent spades into old train cars
huddled shadows in the rusty quiet, dreams of wheels turning.
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I wanted so badly to stand in the room as a light
to take a small bit of their pain into me and survive it all
next time. There are bodies in the lake out back
that need to be counted. My visions can wait
but He will never come.
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day
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).
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Hollywood Rain by Scott Laudati

walk
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Hollywood Rain by Scott Laudati
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You started off looking for Rome like I did.
In poems, in love letters,
written for a city planes fly to every day
but you knew
or decided
you hadn’t earned it yet.
So
you went to West Hollywood,
a walk each night down Sunset,
not exactly The Malecón
or The Rue des Rosiers
but the girls are skinny
and sometimes you follow the one
with the German Shepard
up Rodeo
to a house her father couldn’t afford
until they painted the walls
with Sharon and her baby.
The neighbor’s thought a murder
would sink the value but they forgot
the California sun can
baptize anything.
And when the tourists come
she puts her yoga mat in front of the bay window,
falling into downward dog
like she doesn’t know what she’s doing.
And the men snap pictures of her
stretched out on this cursed land,
almost as rare
as a Hollywood rain
but nowhere near as beautiful.
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Scott Laudati’s recent work has appeared in The Cardiff Review and The Columbia Journal. He spends most of his time with a 14 year-old schnoodle named Dolly. Visit him on social media @ScottLaudati
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The Cave by Rustin Larson

shaft
The Cave
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The most beautiful thing I saw today
was a damaged square of sidewalk
where an old butternut tree had fallen
and cracked it like a pie crust
revealing a hollowness that plummeted
forty feet down into an abandoned coal-
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mine shaft.  A room with walls of coal.
I once entered a cave, felt an ancient comfort.  Today
I woke in my room.  When I meditate I plummet
and imagine I can understand bird song, the sidewalk
robin, “For this day we thank thee, for thy pie crust
we thank thee, for our lives…” The song falls
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down the long shaft of being to where I sit, fallen.
The cave was in Missouri; I felt at home inside; no coal,
just graffiti from Jesse James.  I could see the crusts
of bread strewn in the bandits’ grotto.  Today
however is blind.  I pound the sidewalk
with a stick, hear its hollowness.  Coins plummet
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as I throw them into the crack.  A buzzard plummets
from an invisible mountain, roses have fallen
and light the cavern with embers, onions walk
out of the garden, sugar burns into a lump of coal,
the pie becomes a rock, the robin creates day,
our ancestors’ bodies sleep in the earth’s crust.
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If I have time for stories, I trust
so many things are subtracted, plummeted
down into nothingness, just like daylight
without earth for it to shine upon, the fallen
soul’s limitless with wings soaring around a coal
of intention in uncreated space, a walk
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without soil or solidity.  No, my fragmented walk
is what it is, my mind broken like the crust
of a communion wafer, the lit coal
on the tongue, the destruction, inevitable, plummeting
around and dependent upon and part of the body fallen
from its tower of ashes into unending day.
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rustin
Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival.
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Supermarket by Lou Gallo

Carolina_Wren-27527
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Supermarket by Lou Gallo
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When she went out to scout
for ever-dwindling supplies
I sat on the porch rocker
and watched a tiny wren
hop about the front yard
pecking for seeds.
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lou gallo
Three volumes of Louis Gallo’s poetry, Archaeology, Scherzo Furiant and Clearing the Attic, are now available.  Three forthcoming volumes, Crash, Why is there Something Rather than Nothing? and Leeway & Advent, will be published in the near future.  His work will appear in Best Short Fiction 2020 forthcoming. A novella, “The Art Deco Lung,” will be published in Storylandia. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
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New From The Poetry Editor

I am pleased to congratulate our hard working Poetry Editor Diane Sahms on some recent publications. Diane has always been committed to the promotion of the art as well as promotion of poets. I thought it proper to promote her art with our readers. Click to have a look.

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… The Poem Monarch at Tiny Seed Journal.

… The poem Shoes at Coffin Bell Journal.

… The poem Tonight, I bid them all a crowned farewell in the spotlight  at e c l e c t i c a.

… Three Iris poems at Yellow Mama Magazine:

Iris’s mind eclipsed.

Iris’s musings as a single mother.

Iris’s freedom of self through unlocked words.

Dead Shark on The N Train by Susana H. Case

By Lynette Esposito

Released in June 2020 by Broadstone Books,  Dead Shark on the N Train by Susana H. Case is one of those volumes of poetry that reaches beyond the pale to explore gender. sexual politics and violence. The poetic range in this seventy-nine- page tome of poems is broad and compelling.
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Case divides the volume into three sections: Living Dolls, Crime Scenes, and Storm Clouds.  Each section carries the theme of the titles. For example, the poem Diva (After Maria Callas) on page five in The Living Dolls section explores the roll of an expensive and talented mistress who must sneak in a side door to see her dying lover. The poem is in two stanzas with the first stanza dominating in length.  The poem speaks of a songstress being forced to sing since she was a child and turning from it to love.  The first stanza ends with the power play of one lover over another.
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                        If the man you love leaves you
                        to woo the most famous woman in the world
                        because she represents America—more
                        refined and even thinner than you—you’ll hole up
                        in your apartment until he begs you
                        to take him back, threatening to crash
                        his Mercedes into your building if you won’t.
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The poem clearly represents the woman on the side who must sneak into the place where he is dying and calls herself his canary with her voice cracking on high C. The poem is successful in both implied and literal images that tells a story both of love and betrayal.
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In the Crimes Scene section, Jane Doe a short three-stanza poem on page thirty-seven, mixes the image of the unknown female cadavers who are tagged with the name Jane Doe with a Smith who is only a Smith a per centage of the time.  In the second stanza, aggression is hidden in the linen clarifies the situation. The third stanza of the poem is powerful in referencing the fragmented lives women lead– coordinated but undefined.
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                               Fashionable teal and beige heels
                               at the foot of the bed.
                               Matching jacket on the chair.
                               Under the blanket, who is she really?
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The stanza shows the image of a woman who outside of the bedroom presents one image but really is nothing more than a Jane Doe when protected by the bed clothes. Or is she?
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In the final section, Storm Clouds, her title poem is presented on page fifty-two, Dead Shark on the N Train. The narrator speaks of a dead fish being admired then left behind on the subway to smell it up.  Tongue in cheek, the narrator says nothing surprises New Yorkers.  The poem then turns to a confession of how the narrator escaped the place she grew up but only makes it across the river.  This is a clever way of showing how connected we are and that somehow, we don’t stray too far. The reader then sees a picture of not a dead fish on the N but a man on #1 who has a heart attack and dies. His corpse rode the loop.
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If life is about a journey, both the fish and the man were involved with a major difference, one was noticed and the other was not.
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                                 .. .Like a man
                                  in his habitat, he seemed to be napping
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The poem is effective in its presentation of human nature in an everyday setting with an ironic twist.
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I enjoyed this book.  Case takes a consistently fresh approach no matter what subject she addresses.  She has a light touch but profound meaning in her poetic work.
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You can find the book here: www.BroadstoneBooks.com

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.

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My Mother’s Transvestites by Tiff Holland

tiff
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By Charles Rammelkamp
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As in her 2011 flash fiction collection, Betty Superman, winner of the Rose Metal Press’ Short Short Chapbook contest, the star of this poetry collection is the narrator’s mother. But she’s not the only star. There’s so much else going on in these poems, from reminiscences of a Midwest childhood to fluctuating gender identity to sex, death, marriage and parenthood.
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But the title poem and the prose poem that begins the book, “Hot Work,” both focus on the men who come into her mother’s beauty salon, men who “would like nothing more than to mingle under dryers, nibble donuts, discuss The Enquirer with the other ladies.”  The poem concludes:
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My mother applies the transvestites’ make-up. I feign sleep in a shampoo
chair, sneak peaks at finished products: wingless angels with five o’clock
shadow, tottering in circles between the dryers and the styling chairs,
trying in that small space to learn to fly.
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How like her mother’s female clients, whom Holland shows us in “The Beauty Shop Ladies”:
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They really want to be movie stars
Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Vivien
Leigh. They’ve seen “The Women”,
and they like to lounge on the settee-
shaped shampoo chairs while awaiting
their turn as the focus of my mother’s
attention.

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They all smoke in the way
of the rich and famous, holding
Salems and Winstons with just
the tips of their middle and fore-
fingers, close to the filters, calling
attention to their manicures,
the hue of their lips.
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The narrator’s mother skillfully juggles the fragile egos, like a magician. Other poems involving the mother include “Vanilla” (“Still in rollers, cigarette clenched between dentures, / Mom sat at the kitchen table….”), “Resemblance,” which is also about the narrator’s daughter, “Kenny,” “Orange, Brown, Yellow, Red,” “Thanksgiving,” and “The Vagina Tax,” in which she alludes to her mother’s death. This poem also concerns the narrator’s daughter.
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I admit, when the amniocentesis came back
Girl, I suggested murder-suicide: you, me
the Girl in my belly. I refused to birth into
this world another being to make only
seventy-six cents for every dollar
a boy would make.
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The mother appears in others, but this is a nice place to segue to two of Holland’s other potent themes, gender identity and sex. Early on, we get a picture of the narrator as a tomboy. In “Vanilla,” the mother dresses her son up like a girl, and of course the kids on the bus picked on him. The narrator pounded them. In “Flared,” we also read about clothing, and the narrator’s distaste for girlie clothes. “Foundations” which also deals with feminine garb, begins:
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About the time I was trying to decide
whether to have a sex change operation
but before I threw all my dresses and skirts,
my slips and nylons in the trash,
my boyfriend invited me to a fancy nightclub
for New Year’s Eve.
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This poem is neatly balanced by the final poem in the collection, “The Last Dress,” in which the narrator reflects on the last female garment she kept, but only for “wedding or funeral, over / seventy degrees, my / attendance obligatory.” As in the poems already cited and others like “Once I Wore a Red Bikini” and “”Don’t Ask,” the narrator’s ambivalence about gender roles as manifested in clothing and appearances is likewise upfront and center.  The poem – the book! – ends with positive self-affirmation:
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Really, I abandoned it because
I had no where to go in which
I had any reason to be someone
other than myself.
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Speaking of funerals, they are the subject of more than a few of these poems. “Carry On” is about the narrator’s father’s funeral. “Grandma Gone Out of Breeden West Virginia” is about burying her grandmother on the day she turned eight. “Eulogy for O’Toole” is about her mother’s second husband’s funeral. “Elegy for Uncle Bill” is a sweet tribute to a loved uncle, who in some sense still lives on. “In some theories of time, / everything is happening at once.”
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Indeed, the poems in which the narrator re-creates her childhood in Ohio are like this. “Purple Town,” “A Piece of August,” “Yanked” and “Burning Ghost Money in Akron, Ohio” bring the Midwest to life. The narrator married at seventeen to a boy going into the army, and several of the poems address this aspect of her coming of age, such as “Watch, Necklace, Luggage,” which is about the wedding, the reception in the Eagles hall where her Uncle Buddy’s band supplied the entertainment.  “Between home and homesick is the highway, / the Day’s Inn at Cave City, Kentucky,” she begins the poem, “No Need for Room Service.” It’s a poem about escaping from home. The occasion for this poem is not clear, though I like to think of it as the narrator and her husband after the wedding.  “Just past claustrophobia, we slip / from Central to Eastern Standard Time….” A vivid character named Tracy, a sort of “town slut” figure, appears in three of the Midwest poems, including the title poem.
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There is so much to admire about My Mother’s Transvestites, not the least of which is the humor that makes you smile on almost every page, the sympathetic characters, not the least of whom are the narrator and her mother, and the humanity that lies underneath it all.
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You can find the book here: My Mother’s Transvestites
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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was  published by Future Cycle Press.  Most recently Catastroika  was released by Apprentice House in 2020.
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