Avalon Creek

NicoletteBe /​/​Flickr Avalon Creek
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Slung over one sturdy branch
hung low
but high enough

Swing that rode June skies
for months that flung us
up and out

Above cool awnings
shaded trees
swing that bent the back of oaks

Thick rope wound tight
knotted twine stolen
from Clarence Weingartner’s barn

Strung by brothers
sworn enemies
awful boys

Frayed ends in shaking fists
a knotty seat
in clenched thighs

On tippy toes
sucking breath
pulling length taut

Looking down
the needled sloping hill
the push the shove

The rushing up
to treetops
sometimes clearing the woods

Eight or ten cheering
or mocking
your courage your reluctance

My sister’s sweaty limbs
determined to go highest
the crack of branch

The creak mid-​air
of fixed and bristly arms
one cracked skull

One night while we slept
old Tom Bauer
finally cutting it down

Nailing warning signs
sawing it clear through
only its end left stiff fixed

round where it had been

Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its weekly online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to

Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.

Tess Barry

Tess Barry (MA in English, University of Pittsburgh; and MFA in Creative Writing/​Poetry, Carlow University) was shortlisted for the 2015 Manchester Poetry Prize (England/​UK). Twice a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and Aesthetica Magazine’s (England/​UK) Poetry Award, she was also shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Poetry Prize (England/​UK). Her poems most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Mudfish Vol. 19, Cordite Poetry Review (Australia), The Woven Tale Press Literary and Arts Magazine (UK) and online at the Manchester Writing School’s website. Her most recent prose is available online at North American Review’s blog, where she has been a featured blogger. Barry is a Fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and longtime member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops. She teaches English, literature, and creative writing at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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