Enter the City

“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.

File0005 V3 (2)

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

“Pot It’s Not” by Linda Romanowski

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

 The neighborhood kids knew exactly what my grandfather’s herbs resembled, so the rumor spread that Grandpop Archie, as he was known to the entire neighborhood by then, was growing pot. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I finally told him why he’d see kids pointing at the clothesline, waving at him, and giving him the thumbs-up sign. He let out a roar of laughter when he realized what the kids thought. After Grandpop acquired this knowledge, the bumper crop increased one hundredfold.

Today, on the anniversary of his death, I went to the cemetery, fresh basil and oregano in hand. Defying cemetery rules, I furtively spread the herbs across his name on the gravestone and placed some at the base of the tombstone. I spread the rest among my parents’, uncles’ and aunt’s graves. Perhaps some bold seeds would take root.

I smiled through my tears.

The cemetery is full of Italians. They will keep my secret safe.

Linda

Linda M. Romanowski is a resident of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. She traces her roots to South and Northwest Philadelphia. Linda obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rosemont College in Psychology and Elementary Education. She is currently enrolled in Rosemont’s MFA program, specializing in Creative Non-Fiction. Her primary focus is portraying her experience of her Italian heritage. She joined the Rosemont Alumni Board in 2008, where she is presently the President Elect, following her role as Secretary. Linda and her husband Ken have served as presenters for Pre-Cana marriage preparation sessions since 1982. She is an active parishioner of St. Denis Parish in Havertown, PA, primarily involved in their adult choir. Her interests include a passion for art, in its various forms, and a reverence for the beauty and the limitlessness of the written word.

“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?

1415653468395[1]

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