Pittsburgh City Plague

He stopped in the middle of the parking lot and told me to get out. I had no answers and he no patience. I got out slowly and deliberately, trying to be the biggest asshole I could. I pushed his car door open with my boot and left with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth.

My teeth were clenching harder than ever and I wish they would just crack already and fall out. Windy and cold with a wet ground- no one else was out except one young man.  He looked like he was trying to get somewhere.

I ran up the stairs, all three flights of concrete and crossed the street to the fence.  Black metal lined the bluff and I went to my favorite bench. Beads of water sat on it. I used my scarf to wipe it off.  It got caught on the splinters and threads were pulling out. But I just kept wiping until it was all dry.

If November hadn’t taken their leaves then the wind was doing it now.  Their branches wouldnt stop talking.  My cigarette ran away before I had the chance to step on it. It found shelter in a pile of dry leaves. I took out another one.

The Hollywood lights they brought from California were on the city’s yellow bridge. I’ve never seen it so bright up here. I think it was the black river and the shadowed hill across from my cliff. It blocked out half the sky, full with trees and dotted with houses. Not a star tonight. No room for both the sky’s lights and ours. Just a moon struggling through the clouds. Smoky ones tonight.

Tonight the city was loud. Tonight the machines made the noise. Tonight I was alone for a mile.

Tonight my angel fell from those smoky clouds. She landed in the black river and I never saw her in the sky again.  There wasn’t a splash; the water just accepted her.  She disappeared.  She dissipated.  No blood. No flesh. Just drowning and rest on the riverbed. I never got to tell her that I was going to visit this weekend.

Break break break. My teeth. Please.

My jaw never forgave me. Damn it.

Damn it. I killed myself in front of the river.  For good this time it is.  I cut my body and poisoned my stomach ten thousand times in my head.  It all seemed too painful and I couldn’t take any more of that.  A coward. So this time I finally died. A being of flesh and a structure of bones. The asphalt doesn’t care about it.

Neither does the black river or the black sky tonight.  They won’t take any of the material. They’ll only keep the soul of things. The goodness the real the life the ethereal.  I walked back down the stairs.

He called back to say I’m sorry. I didn’t accept. I had no words. My angel was gone.  He said goodnight three times and I waited for the line to disconnect.

She washed up on the river shore.  White flesh with a bit of blue from that black water.  Her wings were soggy and sad. Shrunken and ruined.  Dirty from the river beach. I tried to peel her lids up with my fingers but her eyes wouldn’t open. I just stood over her and looked.  I was dead too anyway.


The Smog and the Sounds

A soft orange glow

Lingers at my window

The glass is clouded

And I can’t see out of it

From my eight floors above the street

Where all the people are beat

And there’s not a body in here

Or mine- That has their head clear


I’m going to get out of this city

This is the last push

I’m afraid I must leave again

And I won’t be saying goodbye this time


A soft orange glow

Sits motionless at my window

And I can’t see any textures

All I know is that my head hurts

And that it’s the lights of the city

That robs the glass of its clarity

It’s the fog ridden by the city’s light

That clouds my glass tonight


The window is solid here

Like all the other sides of the room

There’s not a soul here beside me

Within these walls or the building


A soft orange glow

Mocks me from my window

And I can only feel the air and hear the sound

But I can’t tell what’s passing on the ground

Until I hear the conductor of the train

Pull his horn continually on its gain

And for once it’s not city-like or enchanting

To hear the machines always ranting


It’s enough to have that in my own head

The smog and the sounds

I don’t need the streets to bring me down

With their cold and their clouds

Low in Ohio

She wore that green sweater two days ago and now it’s soiled with tears. I sit beside her in the front seat–stone–as she confesses to me her fears.  She’s driving fast and digging into the wheel.

We pass a truck here and slip beside one there. We’re being reckless and young but neither of us care.

I see the water on her face and it reflects what I am today–it locks my numbness into place.  We are too unaffected by the good to have the ability appreciate.  It’s seductive and comforting to us to settle on all that we hate.

Now we’re on the road again with less luggage and heavier baggage.  In Chicago there seemed happiness, but in fact, we never had it.

We keep spinning like tops, and its seems the only way is to fall over if we want to stop.

We’re barreling home now, passing cars and barely looking around.  We’re speeding up but in Ohio we’re down.

For once I can say that I want to get out of the car and feel my weight on the ground–

To beg the dirt to take a hit for us and ask the rocks to hold out.  To appease the sky and and convince the hills to just let us hide.

But it’s useless. I know that if we can’t get the answers from ourselves then nothing will relieve us from asking why.

Why isn’t the sun good to us?  Its light doesn’t illuminate but its heat leaves us as dust.  Its shine stops before us at the car windshield as we dream of a blissful ignorance to which we wish we could yield. I see only blue and white up there and wonder what could be more pure.  I think it’s the certainty that our sickness has no cure.

So again we look on to a different city and wait for either us or our paranoia to be dead. And again I resort to letting the fullness of leaving occupy my head.  I’m thinking: I too often dream to reach the peak of that Golden Dome, that I foolishly forget that I’m returning to only my surface-home.

The boys are sleeping in the back seats, a head on each window as Grace and I fold over the radio’s sad beats.  It’s only thirty minutes into our ride–they laid like infants as Grace and I died.

Worrier’s Hymn

There once was an old man with a red canoe,

When hurting, he took himself and his boat out lacking a crew.

He took his pains out on the water and into his journal,

But made the mistake of considering them eternal.

In late July he found himself down and decided to get lost,

he pushed his boat out further and further, not thinking of the cost.

Devoured by his troubles, he didn’t realize there was no sight of land,

He sat curled up without a companion or compass on hand.

He never looked around but just sulked in heat and desolation,

When worrying, he didn’t let a thing break his concentration.

The man then noticed that he had been out for four days,

It was the thirst of his body that shook him out of his haze.

By the time he had realized what he had done,

He had already begun to feel the beating of the sun.

All the vitality in his body had dried,

And there was not a tear’s worth of water left to be cried.

The salt of the ocean had extracted everything,

Even the finger fat that held his wedding ring.

The lines drawn in his hands became deeper,

As he looked to God to become his next keeper.

The wrinkles around his stale eyes became red,

As if to warn about his sickening head.

Apollo had been silently drying him up,

He reached for his knapsack but had no use for his cup.

Plato said: “And at last he will be able to see the sun.”

I say only despair for the worrier can be won.

The planks of his canoe began to crack,

And he sank with it until the ocean turned black.

Pennsylvania and Down

I will love you more often than the clouds vary

And I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter if our dreams prove contrary.

We’ll find a way to stop the miles from separating us

But in the meantime I have dreams of you to discuss.

We passed back home but I don’t remember you

Now it seems you’ll be the muse I pen to.

Forgive me for forgetting, it’s something I tend to do–


Darling, I’m weary and I need to feed off your love

When I lie worrying at night its your face I turn to for something to think of.

Meet me and take me with you out of this town

I need out of my current states—Pennsylvania and Down.

Give me something to look forward to—living and breathing

I only give—and replenish is so rare that my skin is seething.


My jaw clenches so tightly you’d think I was teething

And as I feel them crack and see my bloody mouth

I know now that I need to get out.

Reflecting on Gray

Bridges are bustling outside,

In here there is nothing alive,

It’s looking dark.


The sky is reflecting its gray onto the river,

I’m contemplating death before elder,

As I lie here letting the pills tend to my liver.



Maybe it’s not here,

But how I ended up at this place,

It must be how her wrinkles are filled with sorrow and disgrace.


Neither is it there,

But upon my arrival,

That when I return I panic as if I’m breathing in thin air.


It’s seeing her shrinking body and fading hair,

Her shoulder fits too small in my hand,

And she doesn’t seem to care.


I’m not sure if it’s him,

Or because he’s the reminder,

Our past blends with the present and is perpetually grim.


It may be the flatness of her eyes—as if she saw that heaven was dim.


I think it’s the boy,

How he fails to know,

What we need is to leave but have nowhere to go.


I feel it’s the being trapped,

It’s being without the means,

But having all of your plans mapped.


It’s because I’m cursed with being cornered,

My thoughts seem free,

But they’re really smothered and bordered.


Maybe it’s when she claims her sky is gray,

That I’m her only sunshine,

And I keep her sadness at bay.


When really she’s the stone when I feel my sanity decay.


But now I’ve come to a conclusion—it’s when leaving is possible but the difficulty provides disillusion.


It’s all the pretending

That has my wellness pending

And I can’t see it ending.

Now it’s a plea that I’m sending

Because there is no hand lending

And to my heart no one is tending.

I see my back is always bending

So into the darkness I’ll be descending.



“Come here,” he says.


“No, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

He looks at me with those

heart-devouring eyes.

Those blue canvases

with my tears painted in them.

“Please,” he says.  “You’ve ruined me.”

I rest my head on his


and feel his slow heartbeat.

“Fucker, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

I stare at the ceiling fan.


Oh, the days of peace.

When fucking was fuckin’.

When my whole heart was

in a place I knew of

and no one stole from me.


But now my heartbeat

isn’t so slow,

and my bones feel like they belong

in a horror film, shaking.

And a few things are missing from my safe.


“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” I say.

“I know, sweets.

“But it did.”