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That severe unspoken savor she’d bring with her

To the table, family gatherings after grace,

Your plate filled, as always,

With whatever had passed through her hands—

The aunt who’d married wearing weeds,

A black-​clad Bride of Christ.

Mantle, habit, scapular, guimpe …

No wonder we called them penguins.

In school they were no laughing matter,

Rising up from behind their desks,

Clutching those biker-​chain rosaries.

Or in 1958, in Vertigo, the rope of the bell,

The mission nun having sent one of the lovers

Over the edge, the other right up to it.


I’m in Pittsburgh and it’s raining,”

The fighter claims in Requiem for a Heavyweight,

His face in the mirror of the vending machine

A stray cloud darkening its glass,

The corridor he’s been led down, half-​dead

On his feet, dim with the wattage

Our sky’s now had for days, white sun burning

In the overcast, another front on the way.

The film’s period feel is weather as well—

That grainy, on-​location wash of light

The cameras have been filtered to capture,

The city the backdrop and character witness.

Days in a row now, monochrome with drizzle,

The world slogged down for the count.

To have your work featured in PQ Poem use the button below. We look forward to diving into your poems.


Robert Gibb

Robert Gibb’s books include The Origins of Evening (1997), which was a National Poetry Series winner. Among his other awards are two NEA Fellowships and a Pushcart Prize. His most recent books, Sheet Music (Autumn House) and The Empty Loom (Arkansas), were both published in 2012.

Other stories in this category: « Walking For James Wright »
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