Archives for posts with tag: Pennsylvania

qing waa licensed
Statue of William Penn
by Mark Tulin

I used to wear the bronze hat
of William Penn,
the founder of Pennsylvania
who stands atop City Hall
in Philadelphia
I was the one who remembered
how things were
during the revolutionary days
when freedom was a passion
and not a personal insult
I remember what it felt like
to live in the sky,
my head in the clouds,
and look over my brothers
Although I love my place of birth,
I never want to return,
nor do I want to forget
how proudly I once stood.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn atop City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Qing Waa, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For almost 90 years, an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement forbade any building in Philadelphia from rising above the hat on the William Penn statue. This agreement ended in 1985, when final approval was given to the Liberty Place complex. Its centerpieces are two skyscrapers, One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, which rose well above the height of Penn’s hat. (Source: Wikipedia)


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Until 1985, the statue of William Penn was the highest point in the city.  I could see this 37-foot bronze statue atop of Philadelphia’s City Hall from my neighborhood in the Northeast section and whenever I took the elevated train into Center City. The iconic sculpture has always been the symbol of what it meant to be a part of the Philadelphia culture. During my adolescence in the 70s, Penn’s statue was etched in my soul, representing our country’s freedom and revolutionary spirit. Since moving from Philadelphia to California approximately 10 years ago, I am reluctant to return to the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve had so many great childhood memories that I don’t want to tarnish them by returning to a place where my favorite corner stores, restaurants, and movie theaters have been replaced by structures that have very little meaning for me.  I want to keep the memory of my city of origin alive and in my heart.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn awaiting installation at the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1894. The 37-foot bronze statue, which weighs over 50,000 pounds, was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, whose namesake son and grandson also became noted sculptors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: William Penn (1644–1718) was a writer, early member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. An early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, he was notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was designed to be grid-like, with its streets easy to navigate, unlike London where Penn was from. Philadelphia streets are named with numbers and tree names. He chose to use the names of trees for the cross streets because Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods.” (Source: Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. His upcoming book, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories is available to pre-order. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. For more, visit his website, Crow On The Wire.

mihai andritoiu licensed
Once, in Pittsburgh
by Mary C. McCarthy

my home town, city of three rivers
and many bridges, steel city,
moving from its dark
industrial past
toward the shining dream
of a tech renaissance,
moving sometimes so fast
a project was half done
before they knew
how to end it…
Like our “Bridge to Nowhere”
arching up and over the river
but with nowhere to land —
hanging there for years
ending in a 90-foot drop
to the water,
access blocked to stop
people driving right off,
though one guy did it —
crashed through the barricade
and sailed off the end in his car,
surviving, as part of the story
we liked to tell ourselves
about our crazy, daring,
restless luck.

There one night, at loose ends
between midnight and morning,
the three of us, each one the first
from our family to go to college,
looking for something
to fill the space
between when the bars closed
and our sober-up breakfast
at Ritter’s diner,
decided to climb up on that bridge
and stand suspended
over the drop
without destination
or direction
with nothing to count on or expect,
no sure conclusion
but the deep pull of vertigo
in the wind’s buffet
and the sough of steel
intent on its own trajectory-

A lesson sudden and strong enough
to scare us back
from the tipsy lip of temptation
to roads more safe and boring
that crossed rivers in the ordinary ways
and ended up in places
almost as familiar
as those we always knew.

PHOTO: The Fort Duquesne Bridge (formerly “Bridge to Nowhere”), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Mihai Andritoiu, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Bridge to Nowhere was a temporary landmark but hard to forget. Our late-night encounter seemed just right in terms of our own uncertainties at the time, taking off in directions no one was used to even in imagination — something new in our family histories, well outside the comfort zone.

PHOTO: Fort Duquesene Bridge — The Bridge to Nowhere — in 1966.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Fort Duquesne Bridge spans the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was called “The Bridge to Nowhere” because the main span was finished in 1963, but due to delays in acquiring right of ways for approach ramps, it did not connect on the north side of the Allegheny River. The lack of approach ramps meant the bridge ended in midair, rendering it useless. On December 12, 1964, Frederick Williams, a 21-year-old chemistry major at the University of Pittsburgh, drove his 1959 Chrysler station wagon through the bridge’s wooden barricades, raced off the end of the bridge, and landed upside-down but unhurt on the other side.The northwestern ramps were completed in 1969, allowing access to Pennsylvania Route 65. (Source: Wikipedia)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary C. McCarthy has studied art and literature, and has always been a writer, though most of her working life was spent as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many print and electronic journals and anthologies, and she has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

by Kenneth Pobo

Where all trails lead,
our motto, though
some trails lead to madness,
others to blossoming cherry trees

in Japan. I live on Barren Road
with my spouse who loves
crossword puzzles more than me.
I’m fine with that. I love
The Addams Family more than him.
Mama married Fester, that’s us.
In Middletown, this isn’t a problem
provided we mow our lawn.

No sidewalks. Cars go 50 mph
in a 35mph zone. Neighbors
wave to each other, about
the best we can do.
The mall died, kid-free apartments
and a super metroplex
with toney restaurants in its place.

Founded in 1686–when
people burned witches
but before the Age of Oil.

94% white. Quite straight.
We take out the trash, weed,
the trail like a comet
on an evening sky, fading,
brilliant for a moment.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Yes, there is a real Middletown.  I think Pennsylvania has three different ones.  This one is near Philadelphia.  The population is around 16,000.  I like living here.  Much of Middletown used to be farms.  When the farms became suburbs (as happened all over America) in the 50s and 60s, our house was built. Barren Road isn’t really “country” but it feels like it’s not just one house after another, all boxed in.  And the houses don’t look like cookie-cutter houses — we like that too.  We’re both very much into gardening and our land is big enough to have good gardening beds. Middletown is convenient.  I’m 13 minutes from work in Chester and Stan gets to work downtown in Philly by taking the train.  I don’t see us moving.

PHOTOGRAPHS: “Middletown, Pennsylvania” by Kenneth Pobo.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend Of Quiet. His work has appeared in Floating Bridge, Indiana Review, Mudfish, Nimrod, and elsewhere.


On Groundhog Day (Saturday, 2/2/13) the Silver Birch Press blog included several posts about the 1993 movie Groundhog Day and its screenwriter Danny Rubin. I forwarded the links to Rubin and the following day received a reply.

Rubin mentioned that he’d just returned from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he was guest speaker at the Groundhog Club Annual Banquet. According to the club’s website: “Usually on Groundhog Day Danny Rubin spends his day answering emails and phone calls from well-wishers, ‘It’s like my birthday only without the cake’ says Rubin. When asked whether he would like to see six more weeks of winter or an early spring Rubin responded, ‘However it comes out I will dress appropriately.'”


With his email, Rubin attached several photos from Groundhog Day 2013. In a reversal of what you’d usually see — the mayor handing Rubin the keys to the city — Rubin handed the city keys to his apartment. (Love this — so funny!)

The second photo shows the enthusiastic crowd at 7 a.m. in 1 degree temperatures waiting for Phil (the groundhog) to appear. (Rubin said he’d been there since 5 a.m. — so I figure he participated in the festivities in an official capacity to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the movie.)

Check out Rubin’s recent ebook — How to Write Groundhog Day, a must-read for screenwriters or anyone interested in the writing process — at Visit Danny Rubin at his website,, where a variety of goodies await.

Thank you, Danny, for the photos and report about Groundhog Day 2013! 

ABOUT DANNY RUBIN: Danny Rubin is a screenwriter, actor, lecturer, celebrity blogger, and most notably the screenwriter of the modern classic Groundhog Day. Rubin has taught screenwriting in Chicago at the University of Illinois, Columbia College, and the National High School Institute; at the Sundance Institute in Utah; the PAL Screenwriting Lab in England; the Chautauqua Institution in New York; and in New Mexico at the College of Santa Fe.  He is currently the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer on Screenwriting at Harvard University. Rubin holds a B.A. in Biology from Brown University and an M.A. in Radio, Television, and Film from Northwestern University. He is married to librarian, web-designer, and architect Louise Rubin with whom he shares two children.

Photos © Danny Rubin, 2013, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED