Underheard

Shane Kell /​Pexels Underheard
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1

He had the window seat.
After take-​off he said,
“My line is socks; what’s yours?”
I said I was a writer.
He smiled his least impressive
smile.
“What do you write?”
“I hope they are poems.”
‘Where
are you headed now?
I told him
I’d been invited to recite
my poems at a university.
“They pay you for that?”

2

It was ten degrees above zero
and snowing.
Both of us
were heading for class — I
in my overcoat, he in shirtsleeves.
“You need a coat,” I said.
“I don’t participate in winter.”
“Even when it’s near zero?”
“I never participate in winter.”

3

I turned cross-​traffic.
A trooper
waved me to a stop.
The closer
he came the more he became
the Marine sergeant I knew
in Portsmouth.
“Fowler,” I said.
“Well, loo-​tenant, what if
it ain’t.”
“No alibi, my fault.”
“Cutting cross-​traffic like that
rates a hundred-​dollar ticket.”
“No excuses.”
“What do you think
I ought to do, loo-​tenant?”
“It’s up to you, Fowler.”
He smiled the smile of authority.
“I didn’t like you then,
and I don’t like you now,
but just for old time’s sake
I think I’ll let you go.”

4

The red Pontiac had been
tailing me before I reached
the Holland Tunnel.
The
driver looked both furious
and exasperated.
Twice
he tried to pass, but traffic
made it impossible.
He was
alone, and I could see
in the rear-​view mirror that he
was talking, probably swearing.
All the way through the tunnel
he stayed as close as a yard
behind me, occasionally blaring
his horn for the hell of it.
Once out of the tunnel, he pulled
alongside, rolled down
his window and said, “You never
let me pass, and now we’re tied—
so what good did it do you?”

5

Nora, I love to travel,
but George hates it.”
“So?”
“He’s never going to change.”
“Why not just accept it?”
“I try, but it’s not easy.”
“Listen, honey, Fred was
five inches shorter than
I was when we got married,
and he still is.”
“And?”
“In bed it makes no difference.”


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its 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 To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to .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.


Samuel Hazo

Samuel Hazo is the author of poetry, fiction, essays, various works of translation and four plays. Governor Robert Casey named him Pennsylvania’s first State Poet 1993. He served until 2003. From his first book, through the National Book Award finalist “Once for the Last Bandit,” to his newest poems, he explores themes of mortality and love, passion and art, courage and grace. samuel​ha​zoau​thor​.com

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