The Altar Boys by John DiRicco
"City Summers" by Rosemary McLaughlin
It’s a big deal when someone like this dies.
The black hearse had no trouble pulling alongside the curb near the back entrance of the church. After a few moments, its driver somberly stepped out onto the sidewalk. Since he’d performed these funeral services countless times over the years, he moved with an efficient grace. His body knew what to do and where to go. But this man was never just mechanical with the dead (or the living) at a service. This man was a professional. He never forgot what his father once told him: “Every funeral is hard for someone. Don’t make a hard day harder.”
Chasing the Long Count by Michael King
Suburban children have wonderful summers with their swim parties, mall visits, and theme birthdays, but they have no idea what our hot, crowded, sticky, glorious neighborhood city summers were like. We rode our bikes, had impromptu picnics, played our own version of baseball, and let our imaginations take us away like a leaf in a stream.
"Poems, Part 1" by Dora Moscatello
An early morning chill filled the mountain air. The cloudless sky was a tender shade of baby blue. A slight breeze filtered through the pines and blew down the mountain behind Max. He didn’t like being upwind from the approach team, but he had no choice. A magpie quacked behind him. It flopped through the trees in undulating waves, struggling to keep its long tail aloft. It passed Max’s right flank in a flash of black and white and then disappeared down into the trees.
"The Rose of Kerry" by Paul Kennedy
Into the Arthritis Pool
I stand in the pool at the JCC with my arms spread out across
the concrete walls.
I watch the fragile, timid bodies file down the ladder steps
like transparent silver dollar plants who are prisoners on a chain gang . . .
Do we seek our own river Lethe? A watery path through river Acheron, perhaps
finally arriving at the stream of Okeanos in Elysium . . .
Movement more painless in the warm water
and shared pleasantries.
The real question in my brain is, “how many more times will you be able to come into the pool?”
Or, “which of you will feel your wings beating faster and faster,
until you are lifted from your chrysalis being into a butterfly angel of no weight?”
What do we all expect? To arise from the water
as jubilant children in a lake?
To have one more go-round? To feel no pain? To dance in the rain?
Maybe only a fleeting respite from reality.
Bridey McGuire knew she was pretty. Her thick, dark brown hair—a gift from her mother—framed her pleasing face in just the right way. She had a nice figure and a slim waist, and she fancied she could turn any man’s head.
She lived on Thomas Street in Homewood, Pittsburgh’s most exclusive suburb, as a domestic servant for the Shaw family. George and Elizabeth Shaw had a beautiful eleven-bedroom house with two children and three servants. The other servants were Peggy Griffin, who was Irish like Bridey, and Gretchen Lantzy, a German girl. Mr. Shaw had done well as an executive in Andrew Carnegie’s iron and steel empire. Most of the Homewood mansion dwellers were captains of Pittsburgh’s thriving industries.