Edythe Rodriguez: 1 Poem

bombs over osage

a boarded window:

a soul’s eye so obscured we forget to call it a neighborhood.

silence drowned noise into the background.

a schoolteacher came home from work

a cute boy waved to me and Big Millie

while she spoke to Lil Millie through her screen door,

and all I see is trash. Tastykake and peanut

M&M wrappers, all I see is ruin and aftermath,

devastation where lives are.

“Are you trying to say it’s dirty?”

I’m not saying—

I’m trying—

dirty is a relative term and— yes.

I ain’t seen trash like this in a minute

I see a landfill so excuse

my dumping all this bourgeois baggage

ghostwhite bars call through pastel panels.

Who painted you? Who built houses on Ground Zero?

Who can walk here and not see a bomb,

a fire, not wear black, not hold this

wake, not trace an old scar on

this new body.

I’m not blind. I see the fence they

built you. The sleek windows

and straight-rowed shingles.

I see they got y’all looking

like a hood Ikea.

I see the eye rolls when I say John Africa,

I see you Big Millie,

I see a scar

on this place that I won’t forget

to call a neighborhood.

Edythe Rodriguez studies poetry and Africology at Temple University. She is a a Philly-based creative raised in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania poeticizing whiteness, racism, and the Black woman experience.

Leigh Fisher: 3 Poems


Visited home today

to hear of all the latest deaths

Neighbors and old friends

flickering out like the light

swaying up and down

on a buoy out at sea

The connection giving life

fading out as the wires



It’s a place of silence
all but the mechanical whir
Words don’t form
while the tracks wear down
Lights shine bright
like they would upon actors
performing on a stage
But no soliloquies
are uttered here

It’s an unspoken law
to only talk to the person
sitting right beside you,
mere inches away,
if you walked together
as you embarked onboard

But while you’re side by side
on two seats adjacent
close as lovers sleeping
in their shared bed at night
Neither of you say a word
since that’s the silent law
The opportunity lost
on a train with no seats open 


 “It'll be good for you,”

they say it like a promise

She simply nods her head and agrees,

since that’s all that they expect of her

She has no reason to fight or say no

and she won’t have to deliver bread

ever again


“He’s gotten a good job, he can take care of you,”

As they say these things,

she’s sure it’s true

but it doesn’t change

that she still feels nothing


“All he wants are a few children in return.”

she knows she should be like her mother

think pragmatically

perhaps the callouses on her hands will soften


“At least I’ve met him before,”

she murmurs as she climbs the stairs


“I know he’s a kind man,”

she thinks, with five loaves on her shoulder

as she walks faster up the hill


“He’s quiet, he doesn’t speak much…”

she continues to think

she starts walking a little faster,

darting around the cracks in the old pavement


But thought makes her afraid

thinking of going to live with this man

what she must do for this man

when they’re alone


“I’ll manage somehow,” she whispers aloud

They’ll pass time in a quiet, little house

where all they share

is the language they speak

and the country they came from


“I’ll manage somehow,” she repeats,

as she reaches the top of the hill

it’s tiring to tackle the upward incline

but going down also has its challenges 

maintaining balance

while plummeting downward 

like a skydiver jumping into fate


“I may never care for him, but it’s like they say; it’ll be good for me.”

Leigh Fisher is from Neptune. No, not the eighth-farthest planet from the sun, but from the city in New Jersey. She is a historical fiction enthusiast, with an avid interest in Chinese history. She has been published in Five 2 One Magazine, The Missing Slate, Rising Phoenix Press, and others. She can be found as @SleeplessAuthoress on Instagram and @SleeplessAuthor on Twitter.

J. Bradley: Remembering the USS Flagg

The sailor’s shell-shocked. I tell Jim to triage him where we’ve got all the other survivors waiting for medical attention.

What’s triage, he asks. Jim picks his nose and then eats his discovery.

Something I heard on that hospital show mom likes to watch. Just get him over there.

Jim picks up the sailor like he’s god. I grab Jim’s wrist. Not like that. Jim lets go as I steady the sailor. I take a packet of ketchup I stole from the sauce drawer out of my pocket, tear away one of the corners with my teeth, and pour it on the sailor. I take my index finger and smear the ketchup on the sailor’s face, chest, the parts of his arms not covered by his uniform skin. I show Jim how the wounded should move for a step or two before letting him take over.

I watch the sailor stagger for a few steps under Jim’s supervision before getting up and heading over to my closet.

What are you doing, Jim asks.

Add some moans. Jim moans in the sailor’s voice: help, my god, mom, help, uhhhhh, why.

I grab the yellow stethoscope from the closet floor and talk into it to make sure it’s still working. I look for my bathrobe I use like a lab coat but it’s not there; it must still be soaked in blood from the last time I had to tend the wounded.

J. Bradley is the author of the flash fiction collection Neil & Other Stories (Whiskey Tit Books, 2018). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

C.M. Crockford: 1 Poem

Mark The Place

I'll take you in the sharp and hollowed wood,

Moving like the world was stripped away.

Tearing into steaming teeth.

A rabid dog meets another.

Give me a drink of


Salting heavy tongue

In such bloody fires.

I'll take you to the baited breath,

Where the riders meet,

Whispering to their horses

Against a red desert sky.

Mark the place on scarlet brown skin.

That's where my lips belong.

C.M. Crockford is a writer on the autistic spectrum living in Philadelphia, PA. His work has been published in Ethos Literary Journal, Paradise In Limbo Magazine, and Oddball Magazine among others. He also a columnist in No Recess Magazine. 

Rebecca Kokitus: 2 Poems

grief on her sleeve

I envy my mother and the way

she wears her grief on her sleeve

I have mine tattooed on my forearm

in an attempt to do the same

when I cry, I cry for all

the fatherless girls

those wishing wells gone dry

lovers flung like pennies

when it finally rains it

smells of blood and gunmetal

my body is a flooded graveyard,

my father’s corpse resurfacing

mourning after

the morning after he died

I prayed to my father for

forgiveness while I prepared

my menthol cigarette breakfast

apologized for wrapping

my mouth around his killer

like a lover, sucking out the venom

as if I could still save him

this was my way of

trying to conjure him

and he spoke to me then—

in breezesong, in the call of

a crow perched in a maple,

he told me smoke and ghosts

are genetically similar the way

they say humans and rats are—

he told me god was toying with me

at that very moment, like a cat

blowing out ghosts like smoke rings,

watching me watch them dissolve

Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She is a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English with a concentration in Writing. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram and @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website: https://rebeccakokitus.wixsite.com/rebeccakokitus

Joe Lynch: 1 Poem

Blight and Hunger

(The Great Famine. “ an Gorta Mór” 1845-49 Ireland)

Hunger first resides in the eyes,

then wrestles it way to the belly,

churning the muscles on its journey,

pausing only to ache,

on its way through Ox Mountain

Failing crops from Dublin to Donegal,

dead fields, costumed in decaying rot,

seasoned by deaths odour,

like an obituary notice of the poorest,

where the mercy of god played truant,

Just like the absentee landlord.

The Mother, translucent skin,

whispering with heavy eyes,

breath slowing, almost fleeing,

memories flickering in an out,

like the country mouse,

joyfully curling in the plots of bountiful corn.

The Father struggles in blighted fields,

cap in hand, his face ploughed weary,

hands raw, raging for revenge,

seeing nothing but his shadow,

destitute by English rule.

The child stood by a turf fire,

a rare moment of comfort,

so, few and numbered,

ribs, like a ladder to the heaven,

almost transparent,

a ghost, just waiting.

Hunger was the blight of nature,

starvation, the might of Trevelyan,

delivered with brutality,

not a kernel of humanity,

Ireland under one sun, ripening the corn

and bleaching bones of a million dead.

Joe Lynch has lived and worked in Belfast, North Ireland his entire life and has recently spent time writing poetry and painting. His poetry delves into themes such as social equality, civility, and human rights.

Carroll Susco: Bean Spiller

What you are about to tell, no one can know.  Since you will tell it anyway, you cannot order the sequence of the memories. You will write it quietly in the order it came.

Three and a half years old, left alone, again, I walk confident by the houses in bare feet down the hill to the park. More of a baseball field, but I did not know that then.  I sit on a bleacher, get a splinter in my thigh.  Staring at the field before me, I feel an angel of the Lord beside me.

And he says, “God created the earth.” 

I look at the grass and up at the trees, the blue with white cloud puffs, the bend in the horizon. I don’t have words for what I feel.  Amazement, maybe. The trees strike me the most, something about each green leaf. 

Put that memory away!  That did not happen!  Just believe me that you are psychotic and you made it all up.  You’re not touched. You’re not special.

Rain on one side of the street.  Sun on the other.  A perfect divide down the middle.  It is a sign.  It is perfection.

Do not say what happened in the other field, the one They told you never to go to. Be angry with God for what he has allowed.

My first memory is of my death.  I am two and a half, and a boy squirts his black squirt gun up my nose.  As I fall I think his face evil.  So rabid was he. And then, I only see dark.  Black.  In it, a glowing old man with big hands that holds an orb that is me.  As he puts my soul back in my body, he says, “The first sound you will hear is your own voice.”  A gasping breath.  My eyes open.  Sky.  And then it comes out, “What happened?” My grandmother is over me with smelling salts.  She is crying and moving the smelling salts from one of my nostrils to the other.

Do not tell the next part.  Never write about us, including your sister, Chris.

Sitting up from my death pose, I look over my shoulder to see my sister, Chris, five years my elder, walking out of the apartment across the grassy area that separated the buildings.  She has a stuffed, green snake.  A very long one.  She is proud of her new acquisition, and somehow the coincidence is not lost on me.

See, this is the thing.  You do think your sister is evil. You’ve never written about her.  Don’t start or we will do something. Why are you tensing? Scared?



There are slugs on the sidewalk on a summer night. I hear crickets, see fireflies, feel heavy, hot air as I sit with a couple of neighborhood kids and my sister in front of our house.  She leans in and so do we as she tells the story of a young girl ghost who hitches rides in cars and gets dropped off where she had once lived before she died. She makes sure we understand that part.  She makes sure we are afraid of the dead.  She teaches us the song, “Never laugh when a hearse goes by or you might be the next to die.” 

Remember the words.

I am in the potty.  My sister, Chris, knocks and says she wants in.  An angel tells me not to let her.  But I do.  I open the door and she and the thug neighborhood boy laugh and stare.  She swore.  I trusted her.  Now the Satan men will be able to watch me pee the rest of my life.

Give us a break! No one will believe you.  Joke’s on you, sistah.

The thug neighbor boy shows me his penis on the porch.  I don’t want to see it.  I find myself in the bushes with who I thought was a nice boy but who says, show me yours and I will show you mine.  Him I simply tell no.  Perhaps that’s the difference between naughty and nice.


I was three.


My sister, five years older than me, makes a haunted house in the shed and only later admits I was not feeling brains.  It was spaghetti. Eventually, I fall asleep.

Blame it on your mother.  Blame it on your father.

My father runs into the house he had to leave because he is “sick” and slaps my mother who is in the kitchen.  On the couch, watching TV, I see him come in.  I see him go where he knows she is. I hear him yell, “You let my baby get sick!” (A sign from God I am in trouble.) I hear her yell, “Dick, no!” I hear the slap. I smile. My sister crouches by me and cries.  My father runs out. I am three. I was three. All this, too young. 

Blame it on yourself.

I’m four or five.  Christ swoops passed as I lie in my bed and says, “What do you want when I come?” I tell him chocolate milk and chocolate pop tarts.  They don’t make chocolate pop tarts anymore.  I blame Satan.

Stop. Now. You’re adding to this.  We told you no.

Chris sends me a text and says I am evil.  She says, “Own it.”  She is very angry with me, and I don’t know why.  I watch her sickness as it starts, intensifies, the way my fathers did, the way mine did…. I hide from her now, at 54, and bar the door.

You don’t even know why she hates you? You moronic imp. Run while you can, sweetie.

My sister sees demons in her smoke, in her photograph, and in lights.  I would hold her tight, but she won’t let me.  I would hold her, anyway.  If I could hold on, maybe I could push her and my demons away.  Maybe I could keep her from wriggling out of my arms. Maybe I could save her, my father, my mother, and me.  If onlys.  Whys and why nots are tiresome.

You can’t love her.  Don’t even start with us.  She’s evil!  You’ll pay for this.

I know. I always do. But, I don’t know anymore what the enemy is: innocence, knowledge, neglect, presence, time, what we see or what we fail to notice, what we do or don’t, when we love and when, when we don’t.

All your spew is impressive.  You are mocked despite your puny fists! And! We get the last word. We always do, mincemeat.

Carroll Ann Susco has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and numerous publications, including Cutbank and The Sun Magazine. This entry is part of a memoir chapbook currently in progress.


Angelina Fay: Art for Art's Sake

He opens the door wearing leather loafers, a half-buttoned shirt, and a slightly frazzled smile, but welcomes me in anyway. It's about exactly what I'd expect Art Garfunkel's apartment to be; stacks of books, demos, photographs both large and small. Things are housed underneath desks, in the space between chairs, slid into every corner. A large canvas alive with colored signature reads love from West Choir! and we heart Art.

Artie Garfunkel shuffles around the room, eventually situating himself amongst pillows on a pullout couch. He quips about recovering from a recent trip to Switzerland. He was also just in the greatest, deepest sleep when his doorman called him to let him know that I was there (early), just so I'm aware. At 74, the wisps of his signature curls are still visible on either side of his ears, poking through the lenses of thick glasses.

He checks his voicemail, pleased that his former roommate has just called. We chat about the recent march for gun control, about the weather, and about New York. He makes no secret that he wishes he wasn't here.

"I shouldn't have come back to New York." He looks out the window. "I don't want to see anyone." He brings up Zurich again, where his oldest son had just found him a house, and his face comes alive as he details the mountain peaks and the rolling hills. It is strange to picture him, a Queens native, anywhere but here. But when he talks about the new, "cold" New York, I can tell that he feels out of place.

In a conversation I had with a coworker, he said that he thought Garfunkel had "retreated from fame." I realized that this is a commonly-held perception of Art, no matter how many locations are listed on his website as upcoming tour performances. Little about Art is this simple; his story is not just one that he shares with Paul Simon. His story is intricately woven through different art forms, each equally in his limelight; the tale of Art Garfunkel is one of dark pockets of mental struggle, bright sunspots of celebration and life, and the crippling reality of what it means to be isolated. To reduce him to those two decades of Simon & Garfunkel is doing him a great disservice; while the duo's ship has long since sailed, Artie has cast his line out in many different seas, discovering new loves, passions, homes, and reasons to smile.

"We have a way of denying ourselves..." he trails off, and then begins again, choosing his words carefully. "Everyone is wildly in love with being alive - but on the inside."

He laments that we can converse without ever truly understanding each other, that nothing he says will translate correctly into print. I assure him that it will.

Once half of an Everly Brothers-emulating duo called Tom and Jerry, then Simon & Garfunkel, Art experienced the most charmed years a person could have, traveling the world doing what he loves most - singing. By the time he was a senior in high school, he had already been on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. He and Paul were inseparable as friends and eventually as performers. Though they took many hiatuses throughout their colorful careers, they seemed to always find each other again.

"We fall into things," Art says. I can certainly understand; I fell into his music quite randomly. My mother owned the Concert in the Park on CD, and we would often hear "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and "Sound of Silence" on the classic rock station Q104.3.

This is how we encounter most celebrities; they are what goes on in the background while life is happening, and before we realize it, they become a part of us. A song that I once knew some words to became something that felt like my mother's car, like a backyard in Long Island, like a younger me with fewer thoughts.

Art and Paul have always fallen back together. Every few years, they reunite for a performance or two, or, if we're on a lucky decade, for a tour. In 2004, they held a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. Over 600,000 people attended a true testament to the everlasting and international significance of their music. They are a place of respite for many.

Artie calls it luck, and insanity, that students worldwide are still singing "Feelin' Groovy" and "Scarborough Fair" in their annual choir concerts.

"If you eat something that tastes delicious, that's great," he says. "If it stays delicious for 45 years, that's just an extra treat." A pause. Then: "That was good. I'd write that down if I were you."

I do.

A piece of paper taped to his lamp, emblazoned with the Hershey Lodge logo, reads, love is all there is - Art, Kim, Arthur Jr., Beau.

"I'm hooked on Snapple, Angelina," Art says as he offers me one of the two "best" flavors - lemon and peach - and lauds America for this one great achievement of bottled iced tea. After some reflection, he decides that caffeine is a good addiction to have after all, especially since ditching his Marlboros years ago, but not before the damage was done on his vocal cords. He lost his voice in 2010, canceled a tour with Paul, and spent the subsequent four years yelling into empty theaters, trying to force his range to resurface.

Over those four years, before he reported to the Rolling Stone that his voice was back in business, Art let his music take the backseat. He turned to his writing, something that never had the full soil in which to take root and blossom, always overshadowed by his first love. For thirty years, Art had traveled with a notebook in his back pocket, walking with no direction, writing for no audience. He compiled these writings into his book.

"That thing that I've been thinking about, where does it take me?" he says of his writing process. "Where does the rhythm take me? What does it demand?" He calls these micro poems "bits", and integrates them into his new shows. He sings ten songs ("April Come She May", of course) and speaks eight of his poetic bits. And he still writes by hand, even today; he succumbed to a smartphone a few years ago, but still refuses a laptop.

"It excited me," Art says of his new type of performance. While the travel is taxing, he admits his deep reverence for his own performances, claiming that it is all worth it at show time. He does three shows per weekend and spends the rest of the week at home with his family, "being a Papa."

He takes his role as a father very seriously and always has. His oldest son, Arthur, or just "Junior", is 29, and Beau is 12. On the couch is a sixth-grade summer math packet, a reminder of just how young Beau really is. Junior, who now resides in Hamburg, is releasing a new album soon, and the pride is evident in every line of Artie's face. "He's not overplayed with life," he says, and I wonder if that means that he considers himself to be the opposite. He then ponders what name his son will go by since his is already taken.

The doorbell interrupts us; it's the Silver Star deliveryman with Art's coffee (two extra shots of espresso).

            "How is your day?" he asks the man.

            "Good, how's yours?"

            "I am Scorpio rising."

            I ask him if he believes in astrology. He does not.                                                     )

On the set of Catch-22 in Mexico, 1968, Art began to read, starting with War and Peace. In his apartment, he pulls down a folder of laminated sheets, all with perfect penmanship - "My friend Artie, the human typewriter!" Paul would say -  that list every book he has read since then, with red dots next to the ones he especially loves. One thousand, two hundred and seventy-one books. Saint Augustine's Confessions and Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own are dotted, and he raves about From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun.  He has one hundred and seventy favorites. His most recent favorite: How to Grow Old by Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Opening up his own book, What is All But Luminous, Artie reads from the middle.

                        Jacques Barzun or anyone

                        who talks to me like him

                           wins my sympathy in this decadent age.

                        What has "learn to earn" meant

                        but a fight against civilized discernment?

                        Is it that "time thins out things"?

                        Does the quality of life lessen

                           with human increase?

                        If it all dilutes through the centuries,

                           then from Rembrandt's soulful portrayals

                                 to Chartres Cathedral

                                       to Aquinas

                                            to Arete

                                                people have seen their better day.

As he reads, he makes sure I'm paying attention, not taking notes or wandering off. He asks me many times if I'm following, if I understand. He says, "nothing is profound, Angelina."

I wonder if he truly believes this, or, as he did often during my time with him, was about to laugh at his own cynicism. His book alternates between a chronological tale of his time with Paul Simon and poems, some only one line. One of my favorites is, you can’t discover fuchsia twice, page eight.

We talk deeply about this Barzun allusion in his own writing, and he tells me that he feels we must go back in time. Civilization is not improving but decaying. We must go back in time to find what matters, and what counts, and what was great.  Forward motion is destruction.

It wasn’t Monet, it was France;

It’s not what we say but the dance we’re in

Therein lies the mysterious glue

And the printed page I paint for you.

May 14, 1998.

“For Kim.”

Art reads this from page ninety.

When he’s done, he shows me an illustrated children’s book titled When Paul Met Artie, by Gregory Neri, which had been released a few days before we met. On the inside cover, Artie had written a message to his youngest son Beau, with all his love.

            We avoid the topic of Paul, for the most part, which was very much my plan. We gripe about the drama of it all - the 2015 Telegraph article claiming Art "created a monster" out of Paul Simon, which is very much not what he said - and rolled our eyes considerably about the need for the mainstream media to find something "juicy" enough to publish.

When I bring up Paul Simon's recent announcement of his farewell tour, I mention that the social media stratosphere is electrified with the idea that a second Concert in the Park could happen. He says, "Again? This is the third time, right?" - alluding to the two previous times that Paul Simon has "quit."

I remember an interview that I read in which Art mentions something that George Harrison had said to him a party, forever ago. "My Paul to me is what your Paul is to you." I bite my tongue as I try to find the right words with which to bring this up, the tiniest of phrases that carry a world of weight. He smiles, makes a comment about how I had obviously done my research, and offers nothing else.

But they are still old friends, which he sings as he walks around the apartment, claiming that it is his favorite song. "Old friends...sat on their park bench like bookends," I ask him what else there is to do for a man who has done everything. What next for Artie Garfunkel?

"I haven't done everything, but what a great thought." He looks off, and I let him. "I don't know how to record now. I'm afraid I'll get lost. Do I make a YouTube? Where do I even begin?" He is wistful, and I am sad.

"When I made Bridge Over Troubled Water, I made it for people. But I made it for art's sake. Capital A." L'art pour l'art. How fitting.

To turn back time, back to 1981, back to the decadence of Simon & Garfunkel. This time without the criminal New York or Ed Koch. This time with a much older crowd, now parents, even grandparents, holding onto these drips of nostalgia that escape their eyes at the opening notes of "Sound of Silence." We cannot just let these memories dance —we want it back, something that was never ours, to begin with: a facade of harmony, deeply cracked in the fragments of a lifelong friendship.

We want it back. This is the way we escape reality through music; that if we can immortalize ourselves in a September rain in the middle of Central Park, things don't have to change. We don't have to change.

Maybe, moonlit in the park with a half million people, Paul and Artie will emerge anyway, just over a half million heads, luminous in memory. But even then, in 1981, that harmonious front was cracking as Art struggled to learn Paul's guitar bits, as he realized that his partner had rewritten the lyrics they had penned together, as he found himself desperately clinging to the 60s-style concerts that had fled his grasp before he could realize.

We claim ownership over those that have carried us through our own phases. In letting go of our rose-colored heroes, as fans and as people, acknowledge that time has passed and that we, too, are not the same as we were. This is not to say that the pedestals we carve for our icons are wholly dangerous to us. But to recognize that our heroes are also in flux, are also fluid, are not the people that we make them out to be, is a heavy thought. To humanize our heroes past what they meant to us means shedding our own selfishness, means knowing that they do not belong to us - that they never did.

Even then, in a perfect 1981, those angelic sounds were recorded onto tapes that would end up in landfills; the songs that would dissipate into the tabloid drama that, unbeknownst to us, is layered with discord and distrust. And would it even matter, would it even really, truly make a difference, for the two to perform in a feigned lust for their music? What would we gain?

On the one hundred and forty-first page of Art's book, of which he is so proud, he wrote:

To Paul, from Art: We're out under the stars now, the harbor we came from is gone from view.

Amidst the books, demos, tapes, papers, photographs of his children, other people's handwriting, and vases upon vases of freshly-cut tulips, I think of one of the first things he said. "That is all a woman or a man wants - to be whole, balanced, full." Out among the stars, a writer Art, a father Art, perceiving his past as the light of an ocean liner far on the horizon. Dim, but still there. Still alive and beating with the pulse of a thousand moments of love.

There are other selves that inherently live in our favorite heroes. Letting them live in harmony with our pedestalled love is an acknowledgment that time is passing, that we cannot stop it, that we never could, and we never will. I, then, discover Art twice. This is the least I can give him; the favorite voice that has always been in my ears, embodied: a writer on a page, a poem spoken into a crowd, a delicate frame in a soft chair reading to me like the sage I knew he would be.

I watch him move around the apartment. A man that, in his fragile frame, embodies generations of art, of transformation, and of love. But still just a man. He sings scat and whispers about old friends.

Angelina Fay is a writer at New York University in the final year of her journalism and creative writing undergrad. This private interview with musician, Art Garfunkel, was under the direction of author and professor, Ta-Nehisi Coates.