August Wilson, Jim Engel, James Wright

Between the playwright August Wilson and the poet James Wright: Lutheran Pastor Jim Engel and the Good Shepherd, Uniontown, Pa, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (ELCA). The three of them within 100 miles of each other. Three encounters. Storypath/Cuentocamino gets its feet washed. 22 April 2018.

Call librarian at the Carnegie
where Wilson completes his studies:
How do I do this?
Get Laurence Glasco's book.
He will take you where you need to go.

UP ON BEDFORD AVENUE //The word for this, in steady / decline for 200 years. Rendezvous. / A dream from the past. / The children were small. /Liner notes were everywhere. / My wife kept walking./ There was a Sunday coffee, / but what to do with the temple talk? / This was Pittsburgh
/ in the Century of August Wilson


"It isn't that one brings life together--it's
that one will not allow it to be torn apart."
            Muriel Rukeyser

Why we are the way we are
beats hell out of me, Muriel,
you here in so many ways
feels like a pulse. When I had begun
to say has something to do
with your earlier one. What
begins when we still don't know
creates unbound commons of
gratitude, grace's way of handing
on your word, where poems arrive
as energy fields. Who anticipated
transfer from poet to reader
mirroring time travel of water
from root to apex of the ancient fir?
That slow construct and discharge.
How-ever, never how, not report---making.

Jim Bodeen
11 May 2018


Charles “Teenie Harris carries
his 4x5 camera into the day,
letting his camera talk for him
and Pittsburgh Courier as well.

One Shot his moniker. He saves
every negative over 40 years. Call
librarian at Carnegie where
Wilson completes his studies.

Like that, on his diploma from
the library. How do I do this?
Get Laurence Glasco’s book.
He’ll take you where you need to go.

August Wilson Way makes room.
Teenie Harris photographs 1500 black
soldiers in his studio on Centre Avenue.
His gift to War Effort. Separate

but equal service on film, observing,
documenting. Eugene Boyer wants
Marines—Navy only wants Blacks cooking.
Help Keep It Great, the sign says. Men

in suits on steps with the flag. Women
standing with recruiters, Can you qualify
for the WAC or WAF? Men without
shirts, Centre Avenue YMCA, waiting

with jokes, your only entertainment
is you. We have a stake in this fight.
Here’s Teenie Harris’ name
in Freedom Square. How come

we don’t have his name
at our fingertips, like we know
Walker Evens? Dr. Cornell West
reflects on the life of Rev. James Cone:

View him from the lens of the cross.
Terrorized people teaching love
as warriors. I’d take a bullet for him,
and he’d take a bullet for me. An echo

of Emmett Till’s mother, an echo of Coltrane’s
Love Supreme. Something to say
to the world. Allowing suffering to speak.
Love and justice at the center. Here comes.

Christians if you don’t understand the genius
of Malcolm X, go back to the cross.
Didn’t you say, August Wilson?
This is the Hill District. Centre Avenue.

Bedford Apartments. Black Beauty’s Lounge.
August Wilson walking us through Pittsburgh.
Teenie Harris, working photographer.
80,000 images. The Hill District. Watch

it change, watch it come North, go strong,
stay focused, it’s gonna take a hit—Govern-
(ment) housing, and again after murder
of Martin Luther King, Jr. I walk

Bedford Avenue in April snow, sleet,
alone with notebook, camera, cam corder,
exposed to the weather of what comes.
Two women get off the bus

by August Wilson’s birthplace,
carrying mops, singing, Thank God.
It’s Friday. Block Party this weekend.
Brief talk about Fences. “Lots of Dads

like that in Pittsburgh. I cried three times.”
For Rose? “For him.” Him is Troy Maxson.
You don’t know him? And that piano?
Where that piano came from. Yeah,

that’s a big one. And Joe Turner.
Joe Turner come and gone. Come,
and gone. Coming again through song.
August Wilson bringing me.

Jim Bodeen
April-May 2018


In that other life, an earlier one, with young people, we’d gather in a circle and pass out the skinny books, asking, Who wants to play Rose? Who wants to play Troy Maxson. Who wants Cory. Bono? Lyons doesn’t come in today. Good choice, though. The play, called Fences, and it has everything. August Wilson wrote it. Young men who still held dreams of playing baseball all their lives liked it. They run into a father and son—tell you that. It has sex and booze and violence. It even has an angel. Boys and girls no longer boys and girls would take parts they knew about, even while believing these same thoughts had nothing to do with school. Anger, the one thing they did know about, more than love that brought them here, all of it walled off in deep freezers, packed behind clothes, and phones and headphones, all the protecting gear promising to defend and conceal them. They could read words denied them. Word prohibited, taboo. Beyond the beyond to prohibition itself. Feelings. Where no one would get to. If they could get to their feelings they wouldn’t come. And here they were. Reading tentatively, then, almost in whispers, not getting there. The little by little working on them. Tiny breakthroughs. Words reverberating in bed at night as they tried to get to sleep. Stuff they knew. What never gets encountered in school. They knew humor and its cruelty. This was different. As different and as fresh as garden produce. Farmer’s Market innocence. One day, then. Maybe one of the young women will say, I’ll take Troy. Another will say, I’ll be Rose. I read ahead. I’ll be Gabriel. These ones have found it. They’ve gone beyond anger. Moving towards outrage. Finding what they know. What they learned at home and didn’t have a word for. Still didn’t for that matter. Moving now. Moving towards who they want to become.

Jim Bodeen
14 May 2018

Ken Blackerby, Akron, Ohio poet, took me to the Ohio River in Martins Ferry, Ohio, birthplace of poet James Wright. My ride with Ken, and his three poems here, reveal something of what poetry is and its sustainability and ways, wild and necessary, often missed.

When August Wilson completed his ten plays on the 20th Century, the century became his, and the Hill District in Pittsburgh where he was born and raised became his. Why a high school teacher of his plays would want to see August Wilson’s Hill are many: The Carnegie Libraries where he educated himself. Where he found the books. The library that gave him his high school diploma. Because he would not let his people not love themselves. For starters. A day in the Hill District, Pittsburgh. August Wilson’s Hill. April, 2018 

Pastor Jim Engel entered my house and family in 2008, shortly after the election Barack Obama. He and his wife, Erica, introduced me to the otherness of dogs and their ability to teach and communicate in ways not dissimilar from trees. We had a couple of trips to El Salvador together. He washes my feet and encounters me in the many ways of water.


Shelling peanuts out back, birdsong,
and bees. OK, the bee's a wasp, but two hummingbirds
at the feeder. Hands full of finches
beak deep in thistle. Me,
grounded after coffee with men.
Two weeks back from Uniontown, PA,
including a Pirate game at PNC Park
home team walk-off homer in the 9th
for the only run of the game. Headline
this morning of the eight-month old child
killed by tear gas attack. The tear gas
cannister my friend brought back for me
as a gift from his trip to the Holy Land
didn't make it through customs.
Didn't make the connection
to the full-length body search until later.

The people wandering all over the place. They get lost...Aunt Esther know. But the path to her house is all grown over with weeds, you can't hardly find the door no more. The people need to know that. The people need to know the story. See how they fit into it. See what part they play.
            King Hedly II, Prologue, August Wilson

Aunt Esther rhymes with...
Come I'm not saying it,
The clue is Grandma.

Allegheny River, Ohio River, Monongahela River. Three Rivers Stadium, Forbes Field, PNC Park. Looking for August Wilson. He had read the 10-play cycle. The August Wilson Century Wilson's father was a German banker. His mother, Daisy Wilson, raised her kids in a cold-water flat behind Bella's Market on Bedford Street. I used to dream about being part of the Harlem Renaissance...I dropped out of school, but I didn't drop out of life. Walking Bedford Avenue--it's avenue, by the way, not street, on the corner, just up from the plaque for Josh Gibbons, next to the ball field he hit those 800 home runs, outside gardens and flowering trees, cone-shaped roofed chapel-like room with majestic windows centered on the corner, now Food Bank and community center, I ask the man inside about barber shops, thinking, that would be the place, if I could get a haircut there. He tells me about Tom's Barber Shop kitty corner from Black Beauty's Lounge.

The mural on the side of Black Beauty's Lounge can't be written about. Painted by students. With an artist backing them up, visioning, showing how. I can show you pictures. Kyle Holbrook, artist and director of Moving Lives of Kids (MLK) Arts Center led them. Pays young people as they paint the murals. Part of The Broken Windows Project, with 75 abandoned and underused buildings. His work takes him all over the world--Brazil, Haiti, Uganda, and the great American cities. He came out of the Wilkinsburg neighborhood of Pittsburgh. My favorite part of the mural on Black Beauty's Lounge is what's inside of Wilson's hat, and then--oh my God--his jacket back looks like a tattooed African-American version of La Virgin de Guadalupe.

Big Tom's Barber Shop looks to be the community magnet. I'd bet that it is. Perhaps too much so. Too many people, too much outside loud talk. Even kitty-corner, across the street photographing the mural, I'm hit on aggressively to buy a memory card for the camera. To consider crossing the street into Big Tom's Barber Shop now feels like a violation on my part, a sacred spot where I haven't been invited, and for that reason alone, I don't belong.

Hamm's Barber Shop on Centre Ave is boarded up with plywood. So is African Queens Beauty Shop, and Top of Town Records. A young woman walking by as I photograph the buildings laments the reality, "All these beautiful buildings, just disintegrating. They should be restored. It's not right."The poster inside the windows covered with steel bars shows a portrait of a smiling man. It reads in part: Don't Let Legislation Steal Your Vote/Change is never easy/But starts with YOU.

The Hill District Library welcomes me as I enter, inquire about the August Wilson Room, taking pictures. It's all ok. Windows to the street, a map of the Hill District naming this place August Wilson's, and his diploma from the Carnegie Library. "August Wilson has completed his course of studies."

"'Sure it do,' Floyd says to Ruby in Seven Guitars. 'This is Pittsburgh. This ain't Alabama. Some things you get away up here you don't get away with down there. I'll show you around.'" Love, honor, duty and betrayal, in August Wilson plays, Laurence Glascow says. Wilson said, "I would leave the house each morning and go to the main branch of the Carnegie Library, in Oakland, where they had all the books in the world." Wilson told Bill Moyers, "Blacks know more about whites in white culture and white life than whites know about blacks. We have to know because our survival depends upon it."

Jitney stations emerged because taxis wouldn't service the Hill District. The jitney station can be located on the map, but it's been torn down.  Wylie Avenue and Fullerson has been called the crossroads of the world. I know jitney from my North Dakota grandmother. The old jitney. It's richer than that. Unlicensed taxi cab. Small bus carrying passengers on a regular route with a flexible schedule. The 5-cent fare. The nickel itself. Coming out of Memphis, Tennessee. Coming from French jeton via New Orleans. And a play from August Wilson set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.

Eloquent empty space. Crumbling mansions. Has the new Aunt Esther already been born? Know the ancestors. Remember them.

The day I spend in the Hill District emerges from a dream. A dream over time. Over the ten decades of the ten plays. Chanced and fated with a tight window. "Karen, help me get a ticket," I said, calling the Carnegie Library on the phone. Marilyn is the librarian's name who connected me to Laurence Glascow, the historian, to his work with August Wilson, and the 80,000 photographs of Teenie Harris. I would have those books in hand before I left, flying all night, arriving in Pittsburgh as people went to work. Snow and sleet in April.

Walking the Hill District in the open, with notebook, video recorder, and camera. Carrying the best guides Pittsburgh has to offer. This includes four decades of knowing the Pittsburgh Poetry Press, and the Pittsburgh poets. I would find them again the next day in the Carnegia Library. A day of reading in the window sill above the dinosaurs in the museum.

August Wilson said, "I want to place the culture of black America on stage, to demonstrate that it has the ability to offer sustenance, so that when you leave your parents' house, ou are not in the world alone, you have something that is yours, you have a ground to stand on, and you have a viewpoint, and you have a way of proceeding in the world that has been developed by your ancestors."

There are many ways of being a poet.
This is my way.
Carrying a notebook.
Carrying a camera.
Going out to see.
Going out to hear.

Eddie's Restaurant is gone
but the starlings are healthy
and doing well in the attic.
John Wesley AME Zion remains.
Gone suddenly at 60.
My age. We share 1945.
Sam Hamill dead on Sunday
with Felix on the mound.
The poet Lee Bassett called me
during the ump's bad call,
30,000 fans booing.
It was cold. It's cold in Pittsburgh.
My friends, too, speak
in language more beautiful than mine.
The man next to me on the small plane,
¿Quieres luz?
No gracias.
Estoy tranquilo.
Flying to the place where poets never die.
Leaving home, I know the fate
of starlings, too, has been decided.

How God seems to be at work in particular times and places. Humility and recognition. One's judgment always suspect, on probation, subject to correction. Necessary discernment. Grace, God's way. Black church. What could be, and what is. That.

Jim Bodeen
19 April--16 May 2018


I'm going to just sit here
reading Sam Hamill's
Gratitude and Dumb Luck poems.
The librarian said I could take
as many books as I wanted
and sit in those soft leather chairs
and leave them when I finished.
in the museum from here in the stacks.
She walked me up back stairs
to August Wilson's work. She didn't know
she had taken me home. Fool
that I am I didn't know myself.
I knew I'd found gold, doubting
I could sit among people reading
without distractions, surrounded
by treasure.  As she left,
she says, Look out those windows
you can see the dinosaur below
in the history museum.
That's how I got here,
to this window sill, tucked away.
Distractions and dumb luck.

Jim Bodeen
20 April 2019


Some of you thought (and told me so)
that I looked like the Ghost of Christmas Past
after I smeared up with sunscreen
before getting into our raft on the Sunday river.
Jess and I took more than white water coming over the bow.
Jess took the full force of Emily. Who knew
Jess could be such a big brother!
This morning I can't think of anything
except being in the boat with you yesterday.
Not one, but three. I know they're rafts,
but I want to call them boats. While
we're on the subject, I want to say,
for the record, I rode in all three rafts.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Didn't each of you run all rapids,
each boat, and all of us, with thumbs
under the knobs? Right side forward, left side back.
And turn, like we're dancing.
Did you see Jim and Erica in their kayaks?

Jim and Erica, so beautiful, in their back
and forth. I liked it when their kayaks
touched, like two kayaks kissing.
Oh, oh, here comes Emily walking
up her paddle in the boat, one
wet stockinged foot at a time.
I hope she doesn't fall on me.
Oh, oh, I'm getting off the subject
and Erica's hearing all of this.
Man, she's serious when she tells us
to check in our water bottles! Poetry
is like this, it always wants to go somewhere
on its own. But isn't school best
when you can get the teacher off the subject?
Poetry is like the Youghiogheny River.
It can run fast, it can run slow.
Did your boat slow in the eddy?
I loved the way Roger, our guide,
showed how the river is higher
in front of the rock than it is below.
Watch out! Here comes Emily!
Jess, don't let her go overboard!
Back to my subject. Back you say!

What is your subject! The only thing
this poem wants to do is say thanks.
Thanks to you. Thanks to each of you.
Thanks for inviting me on your boat.
Thanks for bringing me to the water.
Shall we gather at the river?
Some of you might be thinking,
He's thanking us now, this poem,
whatever it is, must be just about over!
Nope. Not this poem. This poem,
like Emily, just keeps coming at you.
It want you to be just as joyful as Emily
being outside, and on the river.

Did you see Jim and Erica in their kayaks?
It was like they were on a date.
One minute they're serious, acting all responsible,,
and the next minute it's like were watching them
in a move, two people in love, and we know
they're in love. True enough.
But this is no movie, kids.
This is a poem. A poem is real life.
A poem is grown-up stuff.
And this is the River Yaug.
I'm on a wilderness bus eating Ramps,
and it's all true. Speaking of time,
Grandpa Ghost, isn't it time to end this poem,
if that's what you call it?
Let me ask a question first.
Where does the river end?
Where does the river begin, for that matter?
What is a river? What do they mean,
Shall we gather there? Jess,

if you still want to swim, you can jump in here.
But don't splash me when you get out.
And no interrupting this poem.
There's no time on the river.
A boy about your age named Huckleberry,
one said, You feel might clean and easy on a river.
People called him Huck. He was on a river
not too far from here with a man named Jim.
That's a great story. Sometimes I call it a poem,
that one, it's so big, like this river.
This poem is just about ready to pull in.
The poem bends, don't break it.
It wants to say thanks still.
It wants to say I'll never forget you.

Muchisimo love, Jim


Because when he was young
August Wilson called out one of his own
he was given a second chance.
The man he called a wino, Johnson Tidrow,
was a teacher who went looking for him.
The teacher handed him a book,
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.
Handing Wilson the book, he said,

Learn something, Fool.
I understand this story as a parable--
the way Jesus taught.
And I get it, that the old man was Jesus,
and that August Wilson got a second chance.
I don't get it all. What I don't understand
is the earlier story, when Wilson
gets thrown out of school for writing a paper
that his teacher says, was written by someone else.
Wilson was 15. He takes his basketball outside
the principal's office and shoots baskets for hours.
He's waiting for the principal, for someone,
to come out and get him. The principal never shows.
No one does. And one more,
August Wilson never goes in and knocks on the door.
That's the part I don't get.

Jim Bodeen
24 April 2018


Way back, back by steps,
stepping off 40, away again
from the national road
the Pike and national way
past Cumberland towards
the American trail
and Nemacolin's path,
rivers and watersheds connect.

Sam Hamill is dead. Gone six days.

Take the Buffalo Church Road.
Language telling me hard coal is smokeless.
Bring me a couple of Indian ponies.
Dreams here surface on their own.
People buried on this hill
all live so close to one another.
Peonies surface after long winter between stones.
Two brothers pack a bale of top soil
and plants for their parent's grave.
This is Clayville. Henry Clay
spent a night here, they say.
William McGuffey's ours.
School district's named for him
on account of the McGuffey Reader.

An agreement's been reached and
a third party is present. We'll assemble
together. A woman sitting in shade
watching her husband mow stops me
and I ask my question. The man says,
You can see it from here,
but getting there's another story.
There is a better road, he tries again.
I don't want to get there too soon.
No, he says, Too much daylight.

The past as present is a reckoning.
May all your fences have gates.
Sam's been gone all of six days.
I don't think he's ever going to leave us,
me and this little stack of books
in the window sill, this side
of the dinosaur looking down on the people.

Jim Bodeen
20 April 2019


As I turn the wheel with the camera on,
nodding to my mother, saying, Oh, Judas Priest
under her breath, the policeman, honks,
points at the library. Still too early to go in.
A little league game at the Park.
Memorials to the veterans from the wars.
Subway sandwiches green and yellow logo
in church readerboard naming
Rev Wm. O. Webster's Sunday sermon,
A sign commemorates William Dean Howells,
Dean of American Letters, and I remember
Professor Frank Collins introducing us
in the Mark Twain Seminar.
I try and stay with a voice I do not know.
A man in the library says, I grew up
on the River. Another man says,
All I ever wanted to do was leave.
Here for one day, I thank all of the teachers,
some whose names I don't even know,
for helping me arrive at this day.

Jim Bodeen
21 April-16 May 2018

Maggie Anderson reads from "Dear All" at the James Wright Poetry Festival, Martins Ferry, Ohio,
21 April 2018

Jonathan Blunk reads from, and talks about his recently published biography: 
James Wright: A Life in Poetry.

Stanley Plumly, featured poet at the James Wright Poetry Festival.

Erica Seaver-Engel, Uniontown, Pennsylvania and the Neighborhood Garden.

Annie Wright presentation at James Wright Poetry Festival

"Nothing is left of Willy on this side
But one cracked ball-peen hammer and one suit,
Including pants, his son inherited,
For a small fee, from Heslop's funeral home..."
      James Wright, from Willy Lyons

Heslop Funeral Home
Martins Ferry, Ohio

Panelist's Reading of James Wright's Poems at the James Wright Poetry Celebration, Martins Ferry, Ohio.


"There must be a back country of the beyond..."
            Maggie Anderson

Más allá que allá
Beyond needle prick blood let
Jumping Jolla Cactus!

Jim Bodeen
12 March 2018
29 Palms,CA


Lost looking for library in Martins Ferry,
dizzy from months re-reading James Wright,
the policeman turning me around
at the top of the hill,
James Wright country.

He honks, We’re there,
driving off.  I drive around some
myself. Little League baseball
on Saturday at the park. Will he
 circle around, follow me,

I wonder. Why this belief
that I’m the outlaw?
Need an outlaw's blessing?
Memorials for veterans.
James Wright was a vet.

I’m early. Here to drive
the neighborhood before first
reading of Wright’s poems. Maggie Anderson
reads Beautiful Ohio, Ole Winnebago man
sitting on railroad tie. My ties

come from dry farming
North Dakota, soft lignite
coal, diaspora, and there’s beauty there.
My father at the grain elevator,
me walking tracks. There’s

beauty in Maggie’s telling.
There’s a chip on my shoulder.
I hesitate to look. Why am I here?
Why have I come?
It helps not to know?

Some. I like Stanley Plumly’s
comments before Father,
from The Green Wall, finding
out later he has opened what
I’ve walked past for 40 years. How

one atones is part of my walk.
My father 40 years gone,
waits for me still, at night.
He’s there, still quiet, a half
smile acknowledging words

from me, he never got to here.
It’s like that, from the beginning,
this day. I write from memory,
altered mind, notes
and recorded images.

This day, then. The month
that follows. Transfigured faces
in all of us. I learned to write
long Chinese titles from the poem
the biographer Jonathan Blunk reads.

the long translation of Po Chu-i.
My history with its translators.
For you, James Wright,
who left your town, village mind,
exploring truth’s shadow,

You find in translation, what
I continue to need, daily. Truth
become whole, though it is not so.
A comment from a friend
on the phone, breaks you from

America. Over with, not deception.
Duality exposed. My wife wakes
dreaming to find me in your poems.
I have not spent enough time here,
myself. Now I know. To be here,

in my own bed knowing. This
alone is Martins Ferry, Ohio,
Hell itself getting over itself.
One black, one Mexican,
in the worker’s motel in St. Clair

talking over breakfast. Black man
explaining the way the paycheck works
while eating waffles on Styrofoam plates.
The road of doors with no calculation.
I lived decades with your poems,

failing them. I can say that now.
I say that sitting with Karen, with Flossie.
I say it knowing Annie.
Sink my being into being.
In the morning clearing.

Jim Bodeen
April/May 2018


            --for Wayne

The left-hander at Bible Study
has all of my attention.
We share the same world.
He doesn't want to move
because he's left-handed.
Me and this woman here
we didn't get to do some things,
but stayed with it--
we stayed.
When I tell him, I'm left-handed too,
he says, Oh no! I've known
a couple of prominent ones--
what I have to say
is not complimentary.
I know those two myself, I say,
remembering Presidential debates
ten years ago. How can I say
either guy won,
in the wake of
the tsunami that followed?

Jim Bodeen
24 April 2018


Entering the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh,
two large jars, and a bin of wine corks: Do you believe mankind
has impacted the climate? Or not? Put a cork in the jar that best
reflects your answer. Attention given to mining towns, Osage,
Eleanor Roosevelt coming through. Census records to find out
who lived here when. Not what they used to was. Patch houses.
Coal mines. Strike breakers. Photographers from the WPA!

Two months ago, at Mammoth, looking at a wall map,
I circle Uniontown, Pittsburgh, Martins Ferry..
Three names surface in a radius of 100 miles.
August Wilson,  James Wright, Yours. A single day,
the 21st, in April. Already penciled in elsewhere.
Miners and blue collar workers. People. Paper. Ink.
Taking me to One Shot Teenie Harris.

Salvation through working words. In gestures
from three worlds, is how I'd like to meet these lines.
Let the letter write, as we live, in the dark.
Oh, my Appalachian grandfather,
Let me stay with the voice that does not know.
Every garden is always the garden.
In Steve's this morning, talking about you.

Had Wright not been born in Martin's Ferry,
he wouldn't have been the great poet that he was.
Awkwardness and class in poems and pulpit.
How lunch at the Bittersweet has to do
with dessert, five Ohio Presidents,
Your Dad and James Wright: Who would
have thought that the afterlife would look

so much like Ohio. Two poets on the table:
No altar but the dark. Practice resurrection.
These elms meeting in the street, a cathedral.
The notebook, like the poem, judges,
but it's not judgmental. Wright said,
The Ohio River is my country. Of Wright:
He carried Ohio on his back. So much

the Appalachian poet. Dangerously religious.
Shall we gather at the river?
The only tree that ever loved him, a sycamore.
Judas on a side street, anonymous, caught
in a random act of kindness. He couldn't
find the crystal on his own, but in the beloved.
Because your dad knows we don't know when,

dessert arrives: chocolate raspberry mousse,
crème broulet with brown sugar breakout crust.
Your kitchen table, Erica, dogs and green tea.
Time to re-assemble in the notebook.
You present me with a .40 mm tear gas round
made by us, shot at Palestinians. What
comes up missing arriving home,

taking on new significance in the news.
You leave Yakima moving east, and keep going.
Jim and Erica, Baxter and Tortilla.
Living an alternative life
to the practice of the nation.
Erica's garden, too, is the only garden,
a spiraling ecological world in a wheel barrow.

Back in Pittsburgh, before leaving for home,
one more look at August Wilson's diploma
hanging in the Carnegie. Thinking of Me'kyah
recognizing Bedford Avenue. Not able
to tell her it's beautiful, too. That's what
I carry walking across Clemente's bridge
to PNC Park. White water, your kids in rafts.

Love from Yakima--from the rivers, the rocks,
            the road, the red wheelbarrow,
                        the pulpit and the pew,
                                    those biscuits in my pockets.
                                                A walk-off home run. Jim
17 May 2018

No comments:

Post a Comment