Saturday Poem / Instead of Pittsburgh

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I leave. The burnt-out hulks of mills
wait in busted silence, jazz floats
over the grass of Schenley Park,
my mother smokes her ultra-lites.
I’m no longer sure when I’ll see

red-tailed hawks bomb through
a north-east autumn, or when
we’ll all jump from the Smithfield
Street Bridge into the basalt flow
of the Monongahela again.

I caught that obsolete city staring back
at me as I walked over Kamakura’s black
beaches. It loomed in London as I rode
the subway down into England’s stone belly.
Now, as I climb two flights to my apartment

and listen to this run-down choir
of stairs groan beneath my weight,
the sound of running water stops me,
demands to know what is left,
its fluid persistence pulling

at what Pittsburgh tempered — these long silences,
pierced by manic wilderness, the hours spent
with three grey rivers and their inevitability,
the jagged hills ripping the skyline — this wonder
at the expanse in my quiet heart.

Kevin Dougherty

Kevin Dougherty grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 2008 and is currently a Masters of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches undergraduate composition. Work of his is forthcoming or has appeared previously in Jet Fuel Review, The Allegheny Review and Prairie Margins.


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