Archives for posts with tag: Pennsylvania

Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, PA.
i am brave
by Linda M. Crate

fishing through my mind for a good memory,
this one comes to mind: when marcie, alicia,
and i went to pittsburgh;

it was a fun day out in the sun celebrating
the birthdays of alicia and i—

i think my favorite part was the part that
scared me the most,
having a terrible fear of heights the incline
wasn’t the most comfortable of feats for me;

but i faced my fear and showed myself that
i could do difficult things—

sometimes you don’t know the power of
a moment
until it’s gone,

but i will never forget that despite my fear
i pressed on;

so whenever tells me i am a coward
or i am weak
i will steel myself with the knowledge that i am brave.

PHOTO: Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a funicular designed in 1870.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I read through the prompt of “one good memory,” and I thought surely there must be one good memory to think of. As I sat down to think about it, however, I found the process a little more difficult until I saw a picture of me with my friends standing at the top of the incline with the backdrop of Pittsburgh skyscrapers behind us. That was a really good, fun day and so I decided to immortalize that memory in this poem.

PHOTO: The author (center) with her best friend Alicia (left) and their friend Marcie (right). Taken July 2021 at the Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, PA.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda M. Crate (she/her) is a Pennsylvanian writer whose poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has 11 published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press, June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon, January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017),  splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), Follow the Black Raven (Alien Buddha Publishing, July 2021), Unleashing the Archers (Guerilla Genesis Press, August 2021), Hecate’s Child (Alien Buddha Publishing, November 2021) and fat & pretty (Dancing Girl Press, June 2022). She’s also written three micro-chapbooks: Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018), moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020), and & so I believe (Origami Poems Project, April 2021). She is also the author of the novella Mates (Alien Buddha Publishing, March 2022).

pittsburgh streetcar copy
Pittsburgh 1954—Feeling Alone While Staying at Grandma’s
When I Had Chicken Pox (age 6)
by Joan Leotta

I was six, my brother a baby,
when the dreaded spots appeared
and I was banished to Grandma’s
house so, in the days before vaccines,
my baby brother would be safe.
I loved staying at Grandma’s
even when I was sick she managed
to find ways to make me smile
when taking medicine.
But at night, sometimes, I
missed my own bed, my house
mom, dad, even my new brother.
On one of those nights
when I was almost well
but the summer heat was
hotter even than my fever had been
lasting into the night,
leaving me wide awake
and swimming in sweaty
cotton sheets in spite of the fan’s
best efforts.
Muffled snores told me
Grandma had already fallen
asleep. The fan’s whap, whirr, whine,
instead of keeping me company,
or lulling me to sleep,
reminded me how alone I was.
I counted imaginary sheep
and ceiling cracks, then slipped
out of bed to look out the open window
next to the one with the fan.
The usually busy street
was empty, lonely, silent,
like the house,
until a red streetcar
rattled up and stopped.
His friendly bell
dinged a greeting
as he pulled up across the street.
No one got out. No one got in.
I waved and then the streetcar
dinged again and glided away
on its twin moonlit silver steel trails.
Reassured now that I was not alone
in that long, hot night, I hopped
back into bed and, at last, fell asleep.

PHOTO: Streetcar, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (circa 1960s) by tassiebaz.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This place poem is my grandmother’s house, a refuge for me as a child in the 1950s when few in Pittsburgh had air conditioning. I loved staying with my grandmother and enjoyed the big bedroom in the front of the house. But that summer, I had to stay two weeks to keep my infant brother from catching chicken pox from me. By the end of two weeks, I was a bit homesick and that, combined with the heat, caused me to have trouble sleeping and feeling lonely.

PHOTO: The author at age six recovering from chicken pox at her grandmother’s house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

leotta 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her writings appear in Ekphrastic Review, Pinesong, The Sun, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Silver Birch Press, Ovunquesiamo, Verse Virtual, Poetry in Plain Sight, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Yellow Mama, and others. She was a 2021 Pushcart nominee,  received Best of Micro Fiction 2021 (Haunted Waters), was nominated for Best of the Net 2022, and was runner-up in Frost Foundation Poetry Competition. Her chapbook, Feathers on Stone, is available for preorder from Main Street Rag. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

licensed erix2005
Field Trip
by Robbi Nester

In third grade, our teacher led us single file
from the banana-yellow bus to visit Betsy
Ross. She wasn’t home, but we still saw
her house, climbing up the steep and
narrow stairs, so close together they
seemed fashioned for a child. The
ceiling wasn’t far above our heads,
and we were eight! We wondered:
how could Betsy live inside a doll-house?
But at the top the staircase opened
to an ordinary room. There was Betsy’s
bedroom and some ugly chairs, worn
and uncomfortable, the kind that might
make dinner guests eager to leave
without dessert. We heard that Betsy
earned her living covering furniture,
and that was odd, considering the sad
state of those chairs. She once sewed
on a button for George Washington.
The famous flag she made lay behind
a golden rope, draped on a green settee.
In fact, there were several flags, the
stripes and stars in different configurations.
At first the stars were splattered like paint
across the field. They had six points,
but Betsy, being practical, argued for
five-pointed stars, easier to cut, until
they finally settled on the flag we knew.
The stripes were narrower, colors reversed,
stars in a circle in the corner. Someone had to
use the toilet, but Betsy didn’t have one,
at least not in the house. That’s when we
learned that indoor plumbing hadn’t always
been a thing. We wondered what the world
would be like in a hundred years. Look at
Betsy’s kitchen! No stove or running water;
just a fireplace with a hanging kettle. Water
was outside. The teacher let us take turns
pumping. It took two of us to bring the handle
down. People then must have been so much
stronger than we were. The cellar was a cave,
no walls or floor. Dark and cool. It smelled like
dirt. Rough shelves held amber jars of honey,
jam from plums and peaches grown in Betsy’s
garden. The guide said we could buy some
at the store on the way out, alongside tiny
flags and books about George Washington.
That was the day I learned that I was part
of something larger than myself,
like history, something made of change.

PHOTO: The Betsy Ross house, 239 Arch St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Erix2005, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross (1752-1836), was an upholsterer credited by her relatives with making the first American flag. Ross family tradition holds that General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, visited Mrs. Ross in 1776, when she convinced Washington to change the shape of the stars from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating that it was easier and speedier to cut the latter. Ross made flags for the Pennsylvania navy during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). After the Revolution, she made U.S. flags for over 50 years.

PHOTO: The Birth of Old Glory by Percy Moran (1917).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four collections of poetry, a chapbook, Balance  (White Violet, 2012), and three collections, including A Likely Story  (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!  (Nine Toes, 2014), Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, and The Plague Papers,  which is currently being considered for publication. Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared in many journals and anthologies.

licensed bill h

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
by Kerry E.B. Black

On the North Side of Pittsburgh, an oddly textured bronze statue’s humble smile invites calm. Recorded piano compositions play. This seven-thousand-pound, eleven-foot-tall sculpture gazes across the Allegheny River toward the city.

I’ve watched grown adults climb onto the statue’s pedestal to smile for a photo. Mr. Rogers taught generations of children to love and respect each other and themselves. He did so gently, without shouting or saber-rattling.

When faced with the unfaceable, I remember a quote by the gentle hero represented in this “Tribute to Children” sculpture, Mr. Fred Rogers. He explained that when he was a boy confronting scary things in the news, his mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” He would recall his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers’ words especially in times of disaster and was “always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

 PHOTO: “Tribute to the Children,” Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. by Bill H, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Tribute to the Children,” informally known as the Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, was created by artist Robert Berks. Cordelia May — philanthropist and heiress to the Mellon fortune — commissioned a statue of her longtime friend to be built through her Colcom Foundation. Completed in 2009, the bronze statue, which cost $3 million to build, is 10’10” high and weighs 7,000 pounds— sturdy enough to support anyone who wants to sit in Mr. Rogers’ lap. The site plays 29 of Fred Rogers’ musical compositions. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Rogers is best known as the creator of the program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001 on public television stations in the United States. The program was critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, and divorce. Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 at age 74. (Sources: Wikipedia and

Mr rogers Latrobe
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When we visited “Tribute to the Children,” instead of his piano compositions, the recordings were of Mr. Rogers’ sweet voice. It was lovely to hear! The second photo shows a statue in Fred Rogers’ hometown, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh). He is life-sized and sitting on a bench. When I arrived to take the picture, a group of four teen/early twenty-year-olds were taking turns sitting beside Mr. Rogers. It made me smile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerry E.B. Black, eclectic writer and lover of humanity, has toured Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where George A. Romero once worked, visited Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Rogers lived, and rode replicas of his trolleys at St Vincent College and Idlewilde Park. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and

PHOTO: Mr. Rogers’ statue, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by Kerry E.B. Black.

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