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PQ Poem

A Parent’s Shame

She grips a chunk of chalk in her fistscratches onto black construction paperfamiliar fury of scribbles:a moon todayyesterday, an egg someone’s headside by side, two are apples.  Sometimesthe picture isn’t the pointit’s powder on palmswows and ooohs and beautifulsfingers and focus and finishingit’s preschool prideit’s fine-motor joy neither of us realizingshe’s tall enough nowto see into …

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Fern Hollow Bridge

The high bridge carries a roadway out of town,an earlier generation’s pride and wonder,emblem of man’s ambition. From belowon the park path, it’s an iron rainbow, a sky that booms with ungiving thunder above a shallow stream that gave no graceto the promising son who did himself to deathchoosing to break himself on the dusty path. …

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Full Moon, Occ Health

By the time he reaches Occupational Health the security officer tips his head, says Full moon. You can tell.    In the bright sting of winter and vaccine pod fender-bendersglass doors on this edge of hospital campus part and shut, part and shut.  Last week a diamond earing went missing.With a distraught patient Iduck-walked the foyer, examined elevator tracks, feltbehind parked wheelchairs and the …

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After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub, I Believed I Was Brave

After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub, I Believed I Was Brave And walked with my friend Mike to the State Street Pier. Mike was funny, a good drinking buddy, and fearless.  He pissed from the edge of the pier, then pole vaulted over the railing and landed hard with both feet,  right on the lake below. …

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Even So

Even So My friend wants to be  a tree that’s blazing out its autumn so when it’s done,  its reds and golds, oranges and browns –lie sudden all around. Outside, chill wind. Trees beyond the strip-mall – bare and thin.  I pass a huge, unbalanced ginkgo,leftward branches absent from a winter storm,   then grasp the frost-tinged handrailof my front …

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In the Used To Time

There was a guy who’d sing  his way to work, walking on the path  I’d bike down,  and he’d sing at the top of his lungs, and  sometimes he’d close his eyes and sometimes he’d throw his arms up and sometimes he’d do a little sway and snap  of the fingers and the string bag …

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Your 8th Birthday

To Lucas I forget the comet’s name I looked for all night but never found. You slept in the tent while I kept the fire going, hoping an arrow of light and dust might pierce the air so I could stir you from your coma and show you. We could’ve seen crumbs of ice dissolving …

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You in the Mountains

We ate thick waffles glazed with sugar, our tongues tasting the last of it from our lips, and the sky ran a pink river through its middle behind the trees growing black with each new firefly. Now, the plants in their clay pots disappeared into dusk. The red ashtray left with its pile of Marlboro …

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June 15, 2017

I imagine you feeling the heat on your shoulder as you leave your apartment. Maybe you touch the spot where the sun warms you: two inches above and to the left of your clavicle. My neighbors planted their tulips in March—I don’t know why I didn’t tell you—and this week the buds opened wide, became …

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Necessary City

I’m walking in hard rain in East Liberty            no umbrella   keeping direction bythe Cathedral rising over the roofs of this city I swore            I’d never live in.   Nico and Kai shopin Giant Eagle. I know he’s taking good care of him   probably            making him laugh   feeding himcheerios. I could leave   get in my car and …

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Intersections: Poetry, Photography and Pittsburgh

In a 2006 lecture at Scripps College, art critic and L.A. Times reviewer Leah Ollman spoke on the overlapping aesthetic qualities used in photography and poetry, stating that “Each has a multiplicitous nature, and like any medium, resists a singular definition. Photography is said to be a slice of reality, a distortion of reality; a …

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For the Small Hairs on My Ears

If I am turning wolf-like, a wolflight growing up within me now, how past fifty feels, fur just waiting to bristle, thistle, thorns, an urge to sleep at noon, pace the house all night, staring out through glass at strangers coming back from nearby bars— If I’m becoming something else, listening at the crack in …

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Perfection

Driving Rt. 48 I see the Lokay Lanes sign celebrating a 300 game and I am filled with longing. Never have I done anything the best it can be done; the feat must feel like the first big winter snow where new lovers shut themselves indoors stay in bed while white piles in inches on …

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First Grill

Overused, grates still crusted with trimmings, it wasn’t much but a dented Weber picked up at a yard sale north of Jackson, a yard I remember because there were children’s books scattered in the weeds and dolls missing their legs but no one around my age, and though for fifteen cents you could take home …

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These Days, I Spend My Time in the Rupture,

THESE DAYS, I SPEND MY TIME IN THE RUPTURE, coaxed by the prosody of steel ground into steel. What I mean is I anticipate the fetter of railroad tracks and trains: how sleep still sieves in the space of noise. My father says I refused sleep as a toddler unless carried, rumbling through fields on …

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Vacancy Inspection: Woodsboro Pike

I imagine her at these windows, looking out at fields in neat rows under a thin muslin of snow a week into the new year, emerging soft into the May air, ready for the combine in early November. She would know how the scene changes over the year, the exact angle at which the spring …

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Larimer Field

Before every game, before they hit us infield, the coaches yelled, “Line up,” and both teams, twenty-eight Little Leaguers, formed a skirmish, from the plate, down the left field line until it ended at the cyclone fence on Lenora Street where the old Abruzzese who didn’t speak English, and didn’t know baseball, except DiMaggio, sat …

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Tom Quirk

White beard and shaved head,A Merton-monkish masterWhose watercolor class put meThrough the wringer with itsTwenty-painting requirementFor my slow painstaking work.Impossible, and not just at first,But he kept me at it, down-Playing my complaints, offeringMaddening encouragements.By mid-term I’d begun to setMy figures against ever starkerBackgrounds till they wereBacked by nothing except The paper’s sheer white nap—A blankness …

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Fence

All morning through my window I watch a man building a fence  In my neighbor’s yard. He’s old, Almost as old as I am, too old  For this kind of work. It’s spring— The first blossoms of the apple tree  Spread their light above him.  He lifts and drops The post-hole digger all morning.  At …

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Hoopie: A Haibun

The Starcher’s used the word everywhere—In the confined spaces of the one-story home, the living room floor accommodating all fifteen of the cousins for bed. Hoopie sat with us in that house on top of the rolling hills, overlooking Easter Flower Hollow. It circled the round oak dining room table, just barely big enough to …

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Highland Meadows, Allegheny County, 1979

Sunday afternoons, we escaped across green waves of fenceless yards, hopscotched streets with split- level homes—their windowed eyes and garages’ open mouths. We screamed past the chained dog’s bark, lawns skirted with azaleas or crowned with the Virgin Mary. We lifted animals like bracelets from creeks and sat on Central Pharmacy’s curb snapping twigs of …

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80’s Body Shop Elegy

We kept the radio on all day long. The news came on at noon. Reagan, Nicaragua, Iran. Tommy brushed his fingertips over the freshly primed fender of another rust-bucket Monte Carlo, feeling for waves, bows, any imperfections in the once rotted places he’d filled and shaped with fiberglass resin. Next door, the whitewashed Lighthouse Salvation …

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