The Obsequious Pen: Siobhan Casey

Siobhan
NEPA based writer, Siobhan Casey

Siobhan Casey is a writer originally from NEPA. She wrote the following about herself and her work:

Siobhan Casey completed her Master’s in Fine Arts at Chatham University in 2011 where she studied Poetry and Creative Nonfiction. She worked as an assistant editor on the graduate publication, The Fourth River: A Journal of Nature and Place Based Writing as well as Assistant Poetry editor for Weave Magazine. Siobhan also spent time as a creative intern on Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been published in Blood Orange Review, Caper Literary Journal, Rougarou, Monongahela Review, and Coal Hill Review. She published a chapbook of poetry, Three Fourths of a Dream in 2016 and presented her work at the Scranton First Friday Arts Festival. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Zooey.

Siobhan included the following poems: That Time I Met Buddha, Story, Mary Oliver Way, and Ode to Objects that Hold.

That Time I Met Buddha

The stones, they
were hands pressed
hard along my vertebrae. Hot,
they formed straight
lines, rows of fires along my legs.

The woman,
who didn’t claim to be a healer
said that she was born in Hong Kong
and that she was Buddha
that she was a man with power
and wives
in her previous life.

−and when I opened my eyes
I was not the same.

I was pure light, weightless.
The dark was not so dark
and the boats were not so far.

 

Story

The beginning is always improbable: a good hook. You can sense
a seed blowing through the air about to land, anywhere, and turn into
peony or zinnia or, human.

The middle:
all conflict—a bar fight, communal
shunning, disease, or storm after storm on a broken raft.
If the story is good, the conflict
is so much like the one you are living and yet
not so to the naked eye.

It is one you can feel in your breastbone, in your sleep,
and you mention it to your bedmate
the breath knocked out of you each time
you finish a chapter.

When the story finds its end
you are stunned or unsurprised. Either
way you would like to return
to the moment when the seedling fell from the tree

a magical thing at your feet,
and was just about to become.

 

Mary Oliver Way

The world blossoms, whether or not we are ready.

The violets and vines creep without design. The backyards purple into blue, cracked asphalt hot underfoot. To the right: a gym with graffiti-d doors. Painted ice cream cones and a man lifting a barbell, his face rendered in the peripheral. The latest addition: a swan with folded wings who floats like a snowy apparition in the winter.

It’s a short meditation, this path, before it breathes onto the boulevard.
To the left: rows of houses, unkempt gardens and stoops where the neighbors, my neighbors, exchange recipes and slumlord stories. Where grandmothers take care of the children and call them in for supper at six o’clock before mothers and fathers return home from their shifts, feet aching.

I walk this alley often. The cats follow, slinking out of garages if the sun is low enough in the sky.

I am learning, like this, to be soft and rooted. To grow whether or not you are visible, not in defiance but in awe.

 

Ode to Objects that Hold

Julia said I would hear the bagpipes
once it was warm again. And finally
they woke me, the sound clear
on a Saturday morning.

I climbed the fence.
like I would have as a child, my fingernails chipped
from so much living.
A young girl, sixteen, was playing
in Schenley park, under a grove of trees.

I’m not sure how this sound can exist,
holding the opposition
of joy and sorrow together.

Months later
metal feathers hang from my ears
and the only sound I can make out is
sleet on the horses
where the fields shiver.
I want to build
a fire. I want to make blue white sparks
so the horses and I can warm ourselves and keep ourselves safe.

Instead, I walk home
and take comfort from solid names
like shelf and bed and tea-kettle
the things that hold
and do not cave.

 

Would you like your written work to be featured in the The Obsequious Pen? Fill out the form below:

 

“I Know How To Waste My Time” by Ali Pica

dil-assi-679756-unsplash
Photo by Dil Assi on Unsplash

Ever feel like the doors of opportunity are real-fake doors? Ali Pica wrote this poem out of ennui and listlessness of searching. 

I Know How To Waste My Time

I know how to waste my time.
I took too many selfies
That all looked the same
Minus the duck lips and cleavage.
I swiped left on my phone,
Edited, and re-edited
A bio no one read.
Vintage vinyls and art,
I struggled to figure out
If someone actually liked me
Or if it was an accident?

As Bob Ross said, there are only happy accidents.

Then, I thought I would be more productive
And use an app to apply for jobs,
Which I kept swiping left, editing,
And re-editing my profile
That no one read
Until I applied for a nursing job by mistake
And received a free resume analysis, which said,
“You have no accomplishments.”

Now I get messages from men
For potential random part-time jobs
Or meet-ups in coffee shops for potential hook-ups.

It’s all the same to me.

A few summers ago, an older gentleman
Rolled up in a BMW convertible
And chatted with me
While I waited for an oil change.
He gave me his business card, which read:
“Service with Happy Endings.”
The card was littered with hand prints
Like that of a child would press against the wall.

He offered me a job waxing boats while wearing my bikini
And promised I could live in his condo on the beach.

I politely declined and moved back home after two masters degrees.

 

“The Obsequious Pen”: Janine P. Dubik

priscilla-du-preez-318422-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Today’s featured writer is NEPA based writer, Janine Dubik. Janine writes about herself in the following:

Janine P. Dubik caught the writing bug in elementary school. In the years since, she has done radio copywriting, newspaper reporting and editing, as well as technical writing and editing.

She placed third in the fiction competition at the 2016 Pennsylvania Writers Conference. Her six-line poems were selected in 2016 and 2017 for Poetry in Transit, a joint project of Wilkes University and the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.

Janine received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Wilkes University in 2017 and is pursuing her MFA at Wilkes.

She resides in Northeastern, Pennsylvania.

Janine submitted three poems: DICHOTOMY, FOCUS, and SNAPSHOT.

DICHOTOMY

Day brings desires
to laugh with you,
to hear your voice
vibrant, loving, alive.

Night, meanwhile, brings
images distant, untouchable
and leaves a black hole
in my heart.

FOCUS

One step.
Right then left.
Repeat.

Take a chance.
See the world.
Don’t look back.

Stop hiding behind your fears,
your insecurities,
your list of should nots, could nots.
Find your dreams.
Challenge your heart.

Believe it’s possible.
Yes, even for you.

SNAPSHOT

The gentle embrace
as we swayed
slowly to King Harvest.

The soft flutter
of his lips on my cheek.

A geeky girl’s dream
unexpectedly
answered.

Interested in submitting to “The Obsequious Pen?” E-mail Ali at adawnpica.ttw@gmail.com or fill out this form below:

 

Love Bites: “That One Time” by Ali Pica

connor-wells-534089 (1)
Photo by Connor Wells on Unsplash

Today’s contributor for “The Obsequious Pen” is our own columnist and creator of Thirty-Third Wheel, Ali Pica. Her poem is titled, “That One Time.” She will be reading her works alongside other local writers at this Friday night’s “Love Bites: Writer’s Circle” reading at the Game Chateau in Wilkes, Barre, 7:30 p.m. and at the Writers’ Showcase, next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. This poem was inspired by the song “Two Blue Lights” from Songs: Ohia on his album Didn’t It Rain.

That One Time

I think of you
That one time
You held my hand—
For sentimental reasons
I rejected the possibility of stars
Being born
In this universe.

I saw you smile
That one time
Through the haze of your smoke
And self-deprecating humor
Intertwined in the binding
Of literary analysis,
You lit up a ring of laughter
Underneath the flood lights.

We joked
That one time
I thought you were into her and
I was invisible as an auditory hallucination,
Now,
When I listen to your voice,
I know you know I am real.

You listened
Every time,
That one time
I thought I loved you
And still do—
Don’t know what to do
That one time
I will have to.

Ali along with other local talented writers will be reading their love-scorned works at the “Love Bites, Writers Circle” reading, Friday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Game Chateau, located 1112-PA 315 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702. The cover is $5 at the door.

Want to be featured in our column? E-mail us: adawnpica.ttw@gmail.com

Don’t forget to check out our playlist! You can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

Writers’ Showcase, Spring Edition: Joe Weil

225-1.jpg
Joe Weil

Joe Weil is a poet, musician, and activist, whose work has appeared in National Labor Forum, Boston Review, Saranac Review, On PBS, and Verse Daily among many other publications. Joe is a featured reader in the upcoming Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition.

Joe’s featured poem is called, “A Litany of Questions.”

A Litany of Questions

Whose house are you?
How many days have you
rolled up the scroll of your being?
And if the hour should come,
come like a procession of
dignitaries, like a parade of
paupers, like something set
loose upon the grain fields at twilight,
what will you say to each room?
Will you say I was a house but
for whom I do not know?
Could you smell the scent of dirt
on the night’s cracked hands?
Was jasmine your concern?
Did the peepers singing in the wet marsh
receive you? How many years more
did you hear them? Were you
my house? Did I walk beyond
the lintel of your doorway, and sit in the near
dark, listening to the susurrus of
wind through your walls? And how did those
whispers accompany the first feint stars?
Was that a fox in the field or only the last
light scratching its back against the stones?

The Writers’ Showcase is an event that features readings of poetry and prose from Pennsylvania based writers. The Writers’ Showcase: Spring Edition will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W Market St. Scranton, PA from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Admission is $4 at the door.

The Obsequious Pen: Monica Noelle Simon

alex-iby-387645.jpg
Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Today’s featured contributor is local writer, artist, and activist, Monica Noelle Simon. Monica wrote the following about herself and her work:  

Monica Noelle Simon is a poet and visual artist residing in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She explores the world through written word, spoken word poetry, acrylic paint and ink and paper sketches. In 2014, she created #BeKindScranton, a grassroots campaign to bring more compassion and kindness to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Her writing has been published on Elite Daily, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Burningwood Literary Journal, Commonline Journal, Poets of NEPA, and HelloGiggles. Her work can be found at: http://www.poetrybymnoelle.tumblr.com.

 

Here is her poetry:

 

Alligators

Alligators are no joke
They will jump out of the swamp
While a horse peacefully drinks water
And take his whole life under
It seems the horses are just naïve
Almost blind to it
And I guess in the end
The alligator isn’t hungry anymore
But ask me any day of the week
And I’d still rather be the horse

 

Storms

all you need to be a scientist is yourself
and maybe a theory
and maybe a way to test it
to be clear: i never asked for the storm
but i wanted to learn
to test its power, its strength
match it up against my own
so while they all hid in basements,
shouting their warnings from tiny windows
begging me to come inside
i sat still and watched,
a lonely endeavor,
stubbornness masked by science
i am here to learn
maybe it would’ve been better if he reverted back to sea
or if i’d just let the rain suffocate the side of the house
while i sat inside, warm, drinking tea
instead i became the continent
with bustling cities, intricate contidictions,
and i wanted to prove that even after he came,
i would still be standing, and i was,
with a heart collapsed, brain shaken up
inability to tell right from wrong
maybe i never asked for the storm,
but why did i have to wave it on from the shoreline?
and afterwards the people, all dry and warm,
came out from their houses,
all arms with hoarded hugs,
surprised i’d survived it, unsurprised i wasn’t the same
helped me clean up, even among their resentment
i just had to experiment, i just had to observe
a scientist curious about things bigger than myself
always explaining, excusing,
“hey, i never asked for his storm”
and as we wander among the rubble
shattered glass, leveled towns
the question remains…
did i learn?

 

Unsettlement

the unsettlement
… of reading tragic poems laced with love and ugly, the likehood of Ginsberg, Plath, Bukowski, Kerouac. All destined for death, as everyone else. All martyrs and depressants, gasoline added to hearts already on fire–

the unsettlement
… of an apartment much to quiet, air rationed and used up with panic demanding more attention than a lightening storm in February, with ghosts packed in, all faces of people I recognize but don’t know–

the unsettlement
… of the stark difference between the narrative and the reality of burning buildings, flood waters leaking pain and poison all over the goddamned place–

the unsettlement
… of waking up when you’d forgotten, forgotten all of where you’ve been, wondering if you were ever even there. men with theories on philosophy, political climates colder than poles, tricks and treats and trollies, rolling away like runaway cars–

the unsettlement
… of questions never asked, answers flashing like a lighthouse after you’ve already crashed into the shore. summer with it’s long days of playfulness, my atoms bouncing in the heat, I swear I’ve forgotten how to properly breathe. him a problem I’ve grown to love, as if being lulled to sleep by the sound of termites using their teeth, expensive repairs budding from senseless hesitation–

the unsettlement
… of cars and paint and floors speckled with the residue of tears with no label– why was I crying? of murder and suicide, the destination of death and the value of the visit. itineraries and lectures, cookies tasting of magic, secret dances on the beach throwing stones into the waves, proving anything can sink if it’s heavy enough–

the unsettlement
… of what comes next. timelines dissected with joy, happiness, and raw red pain. a blank canvas, we all just wait for life to throw paint. we all just hope it turns out pretty.

 

Monica Noelle will be reading her works alongside other powerful female writers, performers, and musicians at Grrrls Night:  The Galentine’s Edition, this Friday, 2-16-18, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Ale Mary’s, located 126 Franklin Ave. Scranton, PA 18503. There is no cover charge, but a suggested donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter

The Obsequious Pen: Marcie Herman Riebe

jeremy-bishop-194141.jpg
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
This week’s contribution is a poem written by our amazing columnist of “The Writer’s Edge” and “All About Drama,” Marcie Herman Riebe


Here is her poem:


A Desert


A cold desert formed between us
when neither one was watching.
Lips once lush have
turned
twisted
gnarled
with anger
and separateness.
Curves captured willingly once
now lay listless
barren
too soon to wither away.



Marcie along with other local gifted writers will be reading their love-scorned works at the “Love Bites, Writers Circle” reading, Friday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Game Chateau, located 1112-PA 315 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702. The cover is $5 at the door.