PQ Poem

The Myriad Lives I Lead Inside My Own

Observe the day. Observe how it is spring warm in the middle of winter, the sky unclouded blue, the air full of undefined promise. Observe my daughter’s excitement at the prospect of a birthday party, running with arms flapping, singing for the joy of it, unbridled, unrestrained. Observe how picturesque…

Naming It

There should be a name for it: driving into a spring storm with the sun behind you, the spray kicking up from the interstate, the stacked periwinkle clouds, the sunlight still glowing into the trees, finding the naked white birch, the new green of the underbrush. Light has a name…

O Say Can’t You See?

We shout when we should be discussing, and the country in chaos accepts it. We shoot when we should be disarming, and the country in chaos accepts it. We claim that the poor are just lazy, and the country in chaos accepts it. We budget to build bigger prisons, and…

Still Life with Leg Brace & Pontiac

We’re standing next to my grandfather’s ‘73 Grand Prix — newly polished, royal blue — my mother, my grandmother and I. I’m five years old, dressed in a wide collar suit and plaid tie. Under my pants, my leg brace — with its cork lift, metal bars, and leather straps…

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”–
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