“Bus Station” by Eileen Moeller

You:
Mister Bulgy Hair Rasta Man

and You:
Miss Spike Heels short skirt geography tights

and You:
School Uniform Knee sock Girls whispering about school
uniform boys passing by

and You:
Mister White Hair Highland Fling braid down the back

and You:
Mister Prep School Tie and pinstripe attache case

and You:
Mrs. Old Lady like a dumpling

and You:
Mrs. Sleek Chanel gold chain and button everywhere sheer
stocking alligator handbag

and You:
Mister Buzz-cut Leather Jacket Pirate earring tooth gap football fan

NONE OF YOU EVER
NONE OF YOU
NONE OF YOU

NONE OF YOU
EVER WILL

GET INTO A POEM OF MINE

UNLESS I WANT YOU TO

AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

Photo 35

Eileen Moeller and her husband, Charlie, have lived in the Philadelphia area for the last twelve years. She has two books: Firefly, Brightly Burning, published in 2015 by Grayson Books, and The Girls in Their Iron Shoes, published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press, and has many poems in literary journals and anthologies. Her blog: And So I Sing: Poems and Iconography, is at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com

Two Poems by John Grey

ENCHANTED EVENING

Back alleys, dye works,
factory-crawling brown river,
drunken melancholy of the bars,
loneliness of traffic jams,
flashing sign with three letters missing,
burnt-out tenements,
shuttered grocery-store,
hookers and junkies
and beggars
and homeless hunched together
underneath the overpass –
and still the stars come out.

EIGHTH AVENUE, FIVE A.M.

On a trip to the city,
I walk through
early morning
subway fog,
pass an old beggar
with an empty cap,
women, painted, formless,
against a concrete stoop,
trace the light
of late shift traffic
to its natural conclusion –
a young girl’s waking face
in a basement window,
hear distant sirens
like wolf howls
deep in the skyscraper woods,
and muffled voices –
shadows speaking
and then slowly speaking less.

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John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review

“London: St. James Street, Out the Window” by Eileen Moeller

a woman, sitting at a desk
framed by a rectangle of light,
looks through a rectangle of dusk,
that sections off a tree, the curb,
two cars, a brick row house across the way,
lit by smaller rectangles, one of which
frames a fragment of room in which
I sit watching her as she writes.
Writing her as she watches.

*****

I don’t like getting dressed in unnatural light,
and want to fight the city this way,
leaving the curtains open,
as if we lived in the woods.

Then I turn my back to the glass,
move quick as a rabbit for cover,
mindful of keen-eyed foxes out there,
hungry to pounce on my privacy.

*****

After all, even I can’t resist
the lure of a big pink blur, clearly naked
swimming behind rippled glass.

I am caught like a fish
by this bear, as I lean toward
the window, waiting for coffee to brew.
Feel like an ass, watching an awful
reality show, titled One Man’s Toilette.

He reddens, and gawks, and scrapes at
his flesh, a magnifying mirror scissoring out,
so he can examine his every pore.
When he goes on safari
up cavernous nostrils,
the gleam of his clippers sends me
wheeling toward the cupboard,
and the zen of an empty cup.

*****

I clean mildew from window frames and sills.
Red, it is, like kelp, grown in a tiny
ocean of condensation: product of a dance
going on near the glass, as heat wraps itself
around the insistent thrust of each cold draft.

Which makes me turn to you, as snow blows
wild outside. Salty, warm, and damp will be
the dance we do,  awash in a gray tide of light.

*****

Two months we’ve watched the man next door
go across the street and through the gate
wondering what he was up to.

Dreamed him in one of those gardens
tucked like a beautiful secret behind the houses,
a bliss of vegetables in need of tending,
a bower of pale pink roses.
Something we yearned for
as spring crept over everything.

Him with his rusty knees and swollen feet,
wobbling over to Paradise day after day,
while we were trapped in this brick box.

That’s what I wished he would say,
instead of what he told me, when I finally asked:

My  neighbors eighty-five and a widow.
Weve lived here thirty years.
Her husband was my mate.
She doesn’t get out much any more,
poor dear, so I bring her groceries
and fix her a cup of tea. It’s the least
I can do, and pray that someone,
some day, sees their way
to doing such for me.

*****

I watch the girl,
in the garden flat below,
brick up her flower beds
to keep the cats out,
as my hands imagine touching
that damp earth, now choked, compressed,
unable to yield to the feel of skin,
or be stirred awake by the midwife sun.
Tomorrow I’ll plant purple pansies
on the sill in a white plastic box.

*****

The tree out front, caught plain-leafed now,
and jaded as a weed, belies its former life,
as a blushing girl looking up at her first beau.
All her pink snow, loosed on the sill
by late May gusts, and long ago swept up,
a bit bruised, and hauled away in a skip.

Soon we’ll be leaving this place,
bumping our suitcases down the steps,
and into a cab. I watch for it out the window.
One last look before we give this place the slip.

Photo 35

Eileen Moeller and her husband, Charlie, have lived in the Philadelphia area for the last twelve years. She has two books: Firefly, Brightly Burning, published in 2015 by Grayson Books, and The Girls in Their Iron Shoes, published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press, and has many poems in literary journals and anthologies. Her blog: And So I Sing: Poems and Iconography, is at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com

Editor’s Post: City Escape

The suburbs are never the place
for one searching to find a somewhere,
a someplace where everything isn’t the same.
Here, the voices which are different
are silenced under conversations
of incomes, houses, cars, and kids.
Every sentence uttered
is some sort of competition,
a contest for dominance
in which the quiet are never invited.

What if the conversations could instead,
while walking down Prospect Park or gazing
up at buildings or metropolitan blocks,
revolve around one’s innermost thoughts,
scars, or saving the world-at-large?

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Ayesha F. Hamid is the founder and editor in chief at The City Key.  Ayesha has an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing from Rosemont College and an MA in Sociology from Brooklyn College. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Blue Bonnet Review Philly Flash Inferno and Rathalla Review. Ayesha is a lover of cities, big and small.

“Kensington Park Road” by Eileen Moeller

Holding a container of milk in my hand,
I walk to work under the creamy sky,
that usually covers this place,
muffling everything beneath its layer of fat.

The milk is cool in my hand,  and held out like this,
it becomes a talisman against the drunks who rush at me
shouting Help the Homeless, Luv, like two clowns in a reckless ballet,

against the German skinhead boys
who will not part their ranks enough to let me through
so I’m forced to cross in front of and around them.

The end boy shouts a stream of Deutsch words
over shoulder as I pass, and I imagine that cow
is one of them, floating over me: gutteral and ghost white.

I mean it’s a matter of logic to call me that,
since I am the bearer of milk,
its glad tidings gently sitting
on the pillow of my palm
to ward off demons,

as I pass the mother jogging behind a stroller,
the running businessman in his pinstriped suit,
the women in saris at the bus stop,
the private park that says No Entry,
the pub and temple,
a hint of barbed wire
that turns into a crown of thorns
whenever it curves even slightly.

The blessing of milk: part-skim.
Have mercy on us.
Low fat. Pray for us.
High protein. Have mercy on us.
Carbohydrates. Pray for us.
Energy. Grant us peace.

 

Eileen

Eileen Moeller and her husband, Charlie, have lived in the Philadelphia area for the last twelve years. She has two books: Firefly, Brightly Burning, published in 2015 by Grayson Books, and The Girls in Their Iron Shoes, published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press, and has many poems in literary journals and anthologies. Her blog: And So I Sing: Poems and Iconography, is at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com

 

 

 

“London: Circle Line” by Eileen Moeller

A woman reads on the Underground
as it drags like a match along the tracks.

A woman wearing a handkerchief linen blouse
on the hot train reads a thick book
about World War II and bites her lip.
A young girl stares at her as she does this.

A girl who sits on her suitcase at the car’s end
with nothing to do but stare at the woman’s
head as it tilts toward the book,
her blunt cut hair, the drama of her face
as it acts out the words.

The words unknown, of course, to the girl,
except for what she can see in the angle of brows,
the pinch of lips, lashes flickering
the way signal lights
pull a train along
beneath the pages of city above.

Images float to those hungry for them.
That’s what they say
and that’s why some angle off
to an old lady at the other end.

A white haired lady frail in her thick coat,
in spite of the heat, who glances full of longing
at the blonde hair of the girl
squinting past her down the car.

This is how it works and always has, just like a fax.
Heat transforming text into text
and the certainty of response:

mysterious as the memory of a young girl’s
first awakenings to the world
as she hunches in silence with strangers
under the ground while London burns.

Photo 35

Eileen Moeller and her husband, Charlie, have lived in the Philadelphia area for the last twelve years. She has two books: Firefly, Brightly Burning, published in 2015 by Grayson Books, and The Girls in Their Iron Shoes, published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press, and has many poems in literary journals and anthologies. Her blog: And So I Sing: Poems and Iconography, is at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com

Five Poems by John Grey

A CITY AFIRE AT NIGHT

No foot can survive unscathed,
not walking over these coals,
not while the city burns
and before the guilt rains down.
Nowhere to run
that isn’t molten,
a pool of tar
flooded with crying,
a conflagration,
where even the gutter creatures
barely survive.

Broken glass, syringes,
acids and powders,
hookers in flaming dresses,
the angry heat
sputters around,
red and luminous,
yet weeps to itself-
incandescent tears
in a dreaded backstreet
of people fused to the spot.

Heaps of them burn,
variegated scars
begin to smoke
intense as hell
in clots of black,
red-stained rivers
smog orange moon,
overheard wires sizzling,
the sky is aflame,
the coast can never be clear.

THE WOMAN WHO JUMPS FROM A BRIDGE

I don’t do
this out of despair.

It’s just that the part of me
that’s been down so long
wants to exert itself,
to make something
of all this nothing.

It is a series of events
that do not aim
for release,
and certainly not joy.

How it works
is that

all off my truths
hit the water
at speed,

create suffering
for myself
but end it
instantaneously.

Then I can claim victory,
that one breath left to me.

AN OLDER BROTHER’S NEW HOUSE

Prideful is the last word I’d ever use
to describe the man
but as we step outside
through the sliding doors,
there’s more than shyness
in that awkward smile,
more than addiction
in the way he releases a cigarette
from the box
and lights it in a kind of
unspoken triumph.

His blue shirt is open to the throat.
His skin is leathery
but his mood is as smooth
as the petals of the tulips
slowly shutting down for sunset.
I feel as if I’m on a tour of
a historic house
with him as my guide
when it’s just the place
he finally can afford
after years cocooned in one of those
pale stucco dwellings
pressed into the side of the hill.

And now here he is,
after a hard day’s work
in which he can feel every dollar earned,
with a cigarette in one hand
and the palm of the other
flat against solid brick.

He watches the smoke rise.
dissipate, be rendered invisible by air.
Now, for certain,
with his name on a deed,
that will never happen to him.

OCCUPANCY

You know there’s rooms such as these:

a dull kitchen
with a woman slumped in her chair,
a cigarette burning down to ash
in one hand,
a cold coffee cup holding up the other

a parlor
and a man crashed on a couch,
staring at a baseball game
on a dusty television screen,
half-slobbering, half-drinking,
his fourth beer of the night

a dark bedroom
and a young boy
hanging from a belt,
one end wrapped around
a light fixture,
the other crushing his throat,
and a chair kicked to the side
for all his life was worth

You already live in these rooms.
And some day,
you’ll meet the occupants.

KISSING SOLDIERS GOODBYE AT AN AIRPORT

People stop what they’re doing. The guy in the
bar raises his beer in salute. The ones who’ve been
there overnight toast the uniform with slowly
raised eye-brows. A little kid is slapped by his mother.
“Stand to attention,” she says, as if the anthem
is playing though it’s just the usual voice warning
all and sundry not to leave baggage unattended.
An old woman wipes a tear from her eye.
She’s seen it all before. It doesn’t always end happily.

It’s not like you see in the movies, the train load
of men in brown uniform hanging out of the window
kissing their childhood sweethearts. The farewells are
scattered. And it’s a busy airport of course. Over
by the x-ray machine, an entire family is paying
their tribute to a bespectacled man in his thirties
who was a banker yesterday. By the sign that says,
“Welcome to Rhode Island”, a middle-aged couple embrace.

Boy kisses girl between sobs sure but it’s the girl
who’s in green and brown, her tickets stamped Baghdad.
A pregnant woman leans over her belly to peck.
And a child of eight or so turns away from a departing
figure, cursing his father for leaving him. Goodbye is
a strange kiss, odd meeting of the mouths, one lips
off home, one to war. Swapping spit, we used to call it.
In lieu of touch, a jaw full of each other.

 

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John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.