Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Homage to my Old Town

IF ANYONE ASKS

I'm from houses on hillsides,
rivets in bridges and a tunnel's
dark mouth. From tiny rivulets
spilling into rivers trey or
the spray behind the Good Ship Lollipop.
From fragrant trees lining
a double-wide Shadyside boulevard,
a group of students earning
the steep grade of Mountain Ave.
or a back alley's cobblestone truth.
I'm from snow caps on city steps,
ice floes from bank to bank,
and rock salt crunching underfoot.
From behind Isaly's deli counter,
under the Kaufmann's clock,
pinned by a green pickle.
I'm from Falling Water and
Rolling Rock. From hoagies,
pierogies and chipped chopped ham.
From charred on the outside,
but ruddy on the inside.
I'm from a fountain that billows
at the confluence of dirty work,
clean sweat and hard desire.
From inclined rails slanting above
an abandoned warehouse and
the creaking descent of a cabled car.
From a furnace's 20 ft. flames
and a cauldron's white hot hiss.
I'm from triangular towers
and plate glass cathedrals,
from soot staining
forty-two Neo-Gothic stories,
and still stinging eyes downwind.
From Penn's woods and
Mr. Roger's neighborhood.
I'm from an arm that rifles
balls from the right field wall,
from the spittle jarred
by a hard tackle and the crust
of blood on a busted lip.
From a rusted trolley car
and a tugboat bullying a barge.
I'm from below the skull's hard hat
and above a skeleton of girders.
From the bluff over the river,
the gorge beneath the span,
the mist off the lock and dam.
I'm carried by a current
that courses hard
through the valley
of the shadow of steel.
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