Friday, July 20, 2018

Pittsburgh Ghazal for Jason Baldinger. by Mike James

Michael (who’s hard of hearing now) tells me, You have to pay attention!
I shut my eyes whenever he drives. Try not to think about the next bridge.

Every time I cross a bridge, there’s a tunnel attached. That’s probably all in
My head. You know, I brake when I see the tunnel’s light? I want to stay here.

One of the things I’m most attached to is place. I love more than one river.
I even like slow traffic. It lets me watch two rivers merge when light’s clear.

The rivers appear in poem after poem. They gather runoff, lovers, and surprises.
They gather old men beside them and pigeons who learn voices if not names.   

No bar I go to is ever snow closed. All the owners are old, tough and make that clear.
The rivers go their one way in heat or cold. 
Every bridge was built before I was born.  

Mike James has been widely published in magazines throughout the country in such places as Laurel Review, Negative Capability, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His eleven poetry collections include: Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He has served as an associate editor for the Kentucky Review and Autumn House Press, as well as the publisher of the now defunct Yellow Pepper Press. He makes his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More information can be found on his website at

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