Because it’s Safe to Walk Here at Night | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Because it’s Safe to Walk Here at Night

And because it’s mid-July, the dog and I walk long, late,
after the moon’s up and the heat settles, pretending
we’re invisible. Two kids in front of us are sharing a cigarette
and playing Pokémon Go. You can tell. They keep stopping,
starting, looking around. Their cigarette smells really good,
the way cigarettes did once, when smoking was young and delightful.

This is my neighborhood: greeny hills and sidewalks,
rhododendrons, young deer eating the scenery and flags,
so many flags, too many flags; I will count them,
I think, so I can make a record of their numbers.
But there are too many, and what good can come of it?
Always the business of who has more and who has less.  

Some nights the flags hurt the shadows; they bunch up,
as flags are wont to do;
they twist around and around themselves.

Just yesterday two Trump for President signs
went up on the same street, one in the yard with another sign
that says “smile, you and your dog are on camera,” so you know
neither you nor your dog are invisible and who doesn’t flip the bird
at that house every time they walk past,
just on principle?

The Trump signs make me sad.
I don’t believe talking makes everything better,
to tell you the truth, but listen: further on,
two girls were doing handstands, right in the middle of the street.
Perfect graceful handstands they held for at least a five count,
before they walked forward a step — stood down — back-flipped over.
They had small music playing. One went up
and then the other. Hands planted on the asphalt.
Feet in the sky.

- Nancy Koerbel

Nancy Koerbel lives in the fine and historic borough of Crafton. She teaches writing of the professional ilk at the University of Pittsburgh, holds an master’s of fine arts in poetry from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and is a former recipient of a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Beginning next spring she will coordinate the Pittsburgh branch of the national Why There Are Words (WTAW) reading series. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.