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IN REVIEW: PHILLY POETRY DAY (PT. 1)

On April 12th, 2014 poets sprung up beneath blooming magnolia trees, beside plump vegetables, in libraries, in front of cafes, and beyond in celebration of Philly Poetry Day — the first day of its kind. APIARY and poet Leonard Gontarek asked Philly Poetry Day participants to chronicle the day, share their experiences, and showcase the power of Philadelphia’s poetry community.

Poets Anne-Adele Wight, Laura Spagnoli, and Patricia Mary Hearons (Tri). Credit: Anne-Adele Wight.

Poets Anne-Adele Wight, Laura Spagnoli, and Patricia Mary Hearons (Tri). Credit: Anne-Adele Wight.

Just Passing Through
by Anne-Adele Wight
“I’m going to die in the open, in the street.” (Patricia Mary Hearons)

Three poets gathered under a magnolia in Rittenhouse Square. Patricia Mary Hearons (Tri), Laura Spagnoli, and I had put together a reading with a loose transit theme. Crowds were passing through the square (transit, life imitating art), and an encouraging number stopped to listen.

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UPRISING & BLUE-BLACK CORNERS – NICOLE SALEMNO

"Deer at Dusk" by Franz Marc.

“Deer at Dusk” by Franz Marc

The Hive: APIARY Digital Edition

UPRISING
By Nicole Salemno

Believe that I rise out of bed
in the morning as fragile
as a deer’s hind quarters
lifting out from a wiry copse
and wobbly still in the shower
I become a connoisseur of temperature—
adjusting and readjusting the dials.

Then my day lets loose to roam
routine walking to the train
with the paper folding and
unfolding unrest in Libya,
protest in Egypt, the Earth itself
is shaking still, somewhere
under the Pacific.

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UNTITLED – NAYO JONES

The Hive: APIARY Digital Edition

UNTITLED
by Nayo Jones 

Animals can sense when a storm is brewing
Past the veil of bright clouds
The way the sun tries to overcompensate
They can smell the air turn dark and musty
Like an old uniform
Feel the sky quiver, like it’s entitled to something
Feel the twinge of the sky cracking, threatening to tear apart at
the seams
It seems we aren’t so different after all
I’ve heard it said
That children can sense the corrosion of a soul as it happens
Babies have an innate sense to tell good from bad
Harmful from harmless
Under-developed eyes
Have a way of seeing past the the facades we put up
Past the veils of bright clouds
They can tell when a storm is brewing
So I wasn’t surprised when a tiny brown baby on the Broad
Street subway pointed at a police officer
And started crying.
I wondered
If he could feel the air turn dark and musty
If he could smell the rot on his uniform
Sense the corruption of his badge
Maybe it was the way the officer was eyeing his father
Like he was more delinquent that daddy
More criminal than carrier of a legacy
More casket than giver of life
I wonder if he knew
This wouldn’t be the last blue suit he’d come face to face with
The last time he’d see that badge dangle over his head like a mobile
Miranda Rights singing him to sleep like sirens on the rocks
Sirens, looking for rocks
Smelling like a cheap imitation of god
And with all the entitlement
Of a sky threatening to tear apart at the seams
It seems like even a newborn knows how a bounty feels
When its been placed on your skin
When your voice is stifled
When they look at you like you don’t speak English
Like you don’t know any better
Like you will never know any better
No matter how old you get they will still look at you the same
Like a suspect
Future car jacker
Future inmate
Future “these assholes always get away”
Future nameless brown boy defined by a number on his back
They will always put a number on your back
Whether its on a jumpsuit or a jersey
Anyone in power will tell you
You’ve got two options
A rock and a hard place
Shooting rocks, or shooting rocks
They’ve the power to define you now
Confine you now
Chase you down and fine you now
But if you’re missing, they don’t have the time to find you now
They’ll bind you now, trap you under handcuffs and bruises
They will look at you like lightning looks at a tree
Like its entitled to something
Whoever said power was harmless
Has never seen a police officer on a subway
Seen a politician promote education then leech it dry
Seen an administrator shutdown low income elementary schools
Children can smell when a storm is brewing
You can’t tell me they aren’t right.
That badge is starting to look like the sun
Overcompensating
Its the brightest thing in a dark subway car
But it can’t bleach the smell of corruption
Whoever said power was harmless
Has never had their nostrils singed
But once the smell gets into your memory
It never leaves.

GIVEAWAYS AT NIGHT & START MAKING SENSE AGAIN – MARK DANOWSKY

Credit: Steve Burns

Credit: Steve Burns

The Hive: APIARY Digital Edition

GIVEAWAYS AT NIGHT
by Mark Danowsky

Giveaways left curbside
prior to the storm seen
at nightfall under the glow
of the street lamps
bend sinister

A length of hose

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BOOK REVIEW: LION AND LEOPARD

Credit: The Head & The Hand Press

Credit: The Head & The Hand Press

Lion and Leopard, Nathaniel Popkin’s most recent release, was published by Philadelphia’s The Head & The Hand Press. Popkin serves as co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine; in Lion and Leopard he captures Philadelphia’s emerging 19th century art scene like few authors can. APIARY staff writer Stephen Piccarella was happy to get his hands on a copy.   

Nathaniel Popkin’s Lion and Leopard is not an easy novel to criticize. A fictionalization of historical events taking place in early 19th century Philadelphia, the novel is so well researched that its characters are always aware of the streets they’re walking on and the cross streets behind, as well as ahead, of them. The narrative is a weave of voices of characters both real and fictional, a grid that resembles the intersecting streets of the city. The voices at once express individual personalities and collaborate to create a period-appropriate language that manages to engage a contemporary reader with little difficulty.

The novel’s two focal characters are Charles Willson Peale, the titular lion, a mainstay of the American art scene, and John Lewis Krimmel, the titular leopard, a European immigrant with a unique approach to painting that entices but troubles the artists and critics with whom he crosses paths. By way of the Peale family and the team of young writers who seek to document the shifting trends in American art, the cast of characters encompasses demographics more often dismissed by the fictions and histories of the time. Despite the many intriguing subplots, the novel devotes most of its attention to the tense struggle between these two painters and their conflicting visions of life and art.

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JUST BEFORE – HARI LEVIN MILLAN

Credit: Bartosz B?k.

Credit: Bartosz B?k.

The Hive: APIARY Digital Edition

JUST BEFORE
by Hari Levin Millan

This was before the cockle head’s shadow
crept across my shelf. Soft, the sheets I lay on.
Naked I lay amid a mecca of bird choirs,
“chway” “clee-ip” “cleeer,”
before X-ACTO knife cuts dragged
across canvases and stinging hot liquid
spilled onto my thighs, chiggers bore into my skin,
the eggs they deposited, the larvae.
And if life seeps through like dirt under a fingernail,
hammers me back into place—
telltale the nails—and succeeds in retrieving me,
every morning I brew coffee, the sound
of the pot percolating will roar like thunder
and the house shake to its foundation
while the coffee drips into the pot.
Every morning the same teaspoons spread out
on linen like a faceless corpse.
All that Spanish moss clinging to the living
vine — shoeless and naked from the waist down.

 

Hari Millan is the author of two books of poetry, THE CHRISTMAS SHOW (Beacon Press), which was chosen by Eavan Boland for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize and GIRL IN CAP AND GOWN (Mammoth Books). Millan is the recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. Her poems have appeared in Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, 32 Poems, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner and others. Millan holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and directs the Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University.

[ LINES COMPOSED ON A NAPKIN... - MONETA GOLDSMITH

Credit: Steve Burns

Credit: Steve Burns

The Hive: APIARY Digital Edition

[ LINES COMPOSED ON A NAPKIN FOR A STRANGER AT THE ALCOVE IN LOS FELIZ ]
By Moneta Goldsmith

I.
Aristotle says that to be
alone a man must either be
an animal or a god.

There is a third alternative
missing from this
equation: a woman
eating dessert in an alcove

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