PQ Poem

26 + 6 = 1

The first time I went up north to Belfast, a helicopter hovered overhead. Very young and very nervous soldiers with guns too large for their skinny bodies carried their fears across the darkened streets. In the Europa lobby, the guide bragged, “This is the most bombed hotel in the world.”…

Matter of Light

A matter of light, part of the tree’s shade over the yard, a zelkova leaf, narrow palm of the rustbelt in April, green tints,

Pittsburgh’s Famed Stairways to…

“Pittsburgh is undoubtedly the cockeyedest city in the United States. Physically, it is absolutely irrational. It must have been laid out by a mountain goat…And then the steps — oh, Lord, the steps!” –Syndicated Columnist Ernie Pyle, 1937 (as qtd. in “Steps of Pittsburgh”)

It Only Made Sense

After my mother died, my sister found a bundle of yellowed letters:

Just Because

I know there are things that you ain’t supposed to do and will probably get you a good whipping if you’re caught but you’ll do them anyway just because and for no other reason than just because.

Miscalculations

I. Through my in-​laws’ breakfast window in the country, the nuthatches roll and bounce and shake spiny winter brambles. Their breasts puffed round as if to fit in the hand of a child. I scrape rings of hardened milk from my coffee mug while I confuse the birds for chickadees…

Blue Bra

She was out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square saying no to the theft of her future, her blue bra cupping young breasts, exposed when soldiers bludgeoned her for defending hard-​won revolution, ripped off her concealing abaya, stomped her slender chest. The bright blue bra shining out went viral, proclaimed that under…

Omar Moreno

What could that have been like, stadium rimmed With Serbs, Poles, and the Jews, too, happy drunk Beside big-​armed Russians and mellow black cats From Homewood, and the lathered Irish wails From the men’s rooms, and each one with the balmy Music of your name cresting the tides that poured…

4th of July, Pittsburgh

Six years ago it was Chicago, a party at Jeff’s. Nate was still alive. It was the night we made out on the train. I locked myself out of my apartment and had to call Eddie the Maintenance Man, drunk, to let me in, prayed I had $40 in my…

Latin Mass

A hawk taloned to a light post above the frozen pond. Two boys shovel a rink.

Poetry

I too dislike it the mystified truisms the dusty puzzle-​prunes the theatrical exaggerations: “the brutal crescendo of woodworms”–

Assisted Living

“Every simile’s an insurrection” (unknown) Her phone is like a cordless baby. Her children are a blur of programmed digits. Each week she learns new rituals to survive, from toothbrush

When I Am Empty

When I am empty I think about you staring back at me in the pouring rain— the family picnic in the Upper Peninsula,

Blending Image and Word

Ekphrasis first began as a rhetorical form used by the ancient Greeks. Defined by Webster’s as “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art,” it remains one of the oldest forms of artistic analysis, dating back to Homer’s description of Achilles’ blacksmith god-​created shield in The…

Miraculous

I found the miraculous in the dim lamp that hung above your head, swinging.
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