- Poems by Jim McCurry

Two Poems by Laurie Mazzaferro


last night I dreamt I saw you sitting on the cement stoop
crying because the damn cat died
what were you doing at the bottom of East Pittsburgh Street
where kids buy stash?
2 am -- every head light yours
I play dominos in the kitchen.
strange when your hair touches your shoulder it curls.
when I stare at night
I swear the moon & sun turn cartwheels.
I remember being 4 & going to a street carnival.
I still cry at neon lights & men in greasy overalls
how fragile joy
in the alley, the moon reflects a broken pint of ESOP brandy.
I walk into your bedroom
& know if I cradle my head
into the crock of your neck
you'd push me awake with arms more muscular
than I imagine.
when you were 6, you froze GI joe
action figures in Dixie cups
*Ice Training* you explained
when my mother says all she wants for her 70th birthday
is me, a baby, small enough to rock
I buy her a rose shrub
it's all I have
I'll leave the window open

Niagara Falling

We laugh that Canada's Niagara is Clifton Hill
neon & glitter
on the other side
wilderness & country
so we walk
as if leaving our pasts
is as easy as crossing,
slipping fifty cents into a turnstile
clouds & steam rising.
All we hear is thunder,
the roar of white foam
then water.
On Goat's Island, silence.
So we toss coins into Niagara
surely we both hear it
when you say your heart is open only a crack.
I toss a twig into the current.
Ordinance 375.1 warns us
not to get too close to the edge
here, seduction & danger,
falls & death, enough to break any heart
so I confess
every night of my marriage
I promised myself sleep
by imagining drowning.
We lean into muddy banks.
4.5 million gallons a minute --
split second, one could be dead.
We know just a handful make it
with fragile possibility
& something unnamed.
I don't say I've wedged my foot inside the crack
to keep it from slamming.
We slip on mud
& mist kisses our foreheads.
Over on the knoll
an autumn wedding
bride & groom wear winter jackets.
We have nothing
except this edge.
A rainbow arcs the boulders.
I know it is only an illusion.
I know that hundreds have fallen
& few make it alive to surface
once they touch bottom.
I whisper something
you must surely catch on the horizon

Laurie has spent this summer trying to finish her poetry manuscript, "Speaking the Dead." It's true what they say -- you don't learn to write until about five years after the MFA. And so, while she's out riding her Harley in rural Western PA, she's thinking about poetry and fiction. Somehow Western PA has managed to creep into it all. She has two Pushcart nominations and various publications including West Branch, Poems Niederngasse www.niederngasse.com, Barrow Street, etc. Presently she teaches creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Contact Laurie: lmbaker+@pitt.edu

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