Friday, July 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Lament

The sound of a switch engine
working the stockyards at night
is like a lullaby humming in my ears.
My taste is for carbon and oil.
The burnt scent of an overheated clutch
is a heady perfume, as magnetic
as the musk of a woman’s desire.
The feel of polished ceramics
caressed by a calloused hand,
is sensuous, arousing,
like stroking the velvety tiny fuzz
along the nape of a woman’s neck.
My eye seeks the symmetry
of bolted parts, disparate shapes joined
like petal, pistil and stamen,
into beauty.

These are lost now,
merely echoes.
Instead, some foreign hand trembles
with the torque of a wrench,
his heart beating in rhythm with
the whirr of generators,
his nostrils flaring with the pungent odor
of lubricated metal and friction.

There are metal shavings in my blood
and my soul withers, unrequited,
another man with a strange accent
making love to what once was,
what still should be, my job.

The title to this one is difficult. I first called it "NAFTA." The current title, "Pittsburgh Lament" is to pay homage to my origins and my father's generation. It's one of those "middle of the night" affairs - the memory of living next to a railroad stockyard, the sounds and smells of my youth, keeping me awake far into the foggy dawn last night.


  1. i enjoy poetry very much. Even though i never really did have the courage to publish those which i have written.

    i like the idea of the Haiku poetry. We have that in the Malay world of poetry as well- sometimes with slightly different rules but it's like a reciprocal relationship which is very interesting.


  2. Nicely written. I could sense the sights and smells. Brought back some early childhood memories of the auto shops on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

    The "foreign hand trembles" for pennies an hour in near slavery taking many middle class Americans down with them. And I'm not blaming the foreigners, it's the multi-national corporations making obscene profits.

    Take care and keep swinging the pen,