Peace Offering and Bridges, 2 poems by Kevin Pilkington

Peace Offering
I still don’t know what to do
with the jacket hanging in my
closet. It’s not that old but like
a Brautigan novel is out of fashion.
Maybe it all comes down to math
and how for the first time in
my life I understand subtraction.
After losing two close friends,
a number that never seemed
large is now a mountain.
Of course raw fish has always
been worth the risk and my last
job offer was not.
The same tall priest in a black
suit I’ve seen a few times on the street
just passed me again. Perhaps
it is a sign that prayers when
they travel the length of Johnny Cash
will never be answered. On the other
hand this is my fist that looks
like a club and from time to time
I only use it on myself. For my
next trick it is holding a bouquet
of flowers, bright roses since
that is what you are thinking.
Here. They are for you. I’m serious.
Take them. They are all for you. Really.
Photo of busy city street
Photo by Saketh Garuda on Unsplash
I’m on the roof deck of a building
45 stories high that aren’t all worth
reading. This is the only place I can
stay above it all and by the time the noise
on the street reaches this height it turns
into Mozart. The sky is clear except
for a cloud a helicopter rips into shreds
with its blades. Queens looks like braille
I can rub my fingers over in case I want
to see even more. The East River lets another
ship slide by and I wonder if we are related
since I have been sliding by for years.
All the bridges can fit on the table
of the model train set my brother and I
had as kids. No wonder the freight train
going over Hell Gate looks Lionel and Wards
Island Bridge is small enough to pin on my lapel.
I walk over to look downtown, past the new
apartment building 3 blocks away that is all
glass, chrome and resembles Cary Grant.
Just below on 2nd Ave. there is a park the size
of a green mat. I’d like to pick up and place in front
of my door so anyone who stops by can wipe
their shoes on tree tops. The Empire State always
reminds me of a syringe a doctor is holding up
waiting for me to pull down my pants.
And back where the sky is torn and ripped
the World Trade Towers stood. There are new
buildings under construction all over and a flock
of giant birds who flew out of those Japanese monster
movies from the sixties nest on top of them like cranes.
This is a city that keeps changing, where block parties
are a new religion, dogs walk their owners, guys still
leave bars and piss between parked cars until their bladders
turn to sand, winters bring snow and ice and the police bring
heat. No one gets along, but everyone else does. There’s no
denying in back of me Billie Holiday died in Metropolitan
Hospital tied to her bed. This, however, is what I’m certain
of – somewhere down there a woman is waiting just for me

who smells like flowers.

Kevin Pilkington
Kevin Pilkington is on the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. His latest collection, Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems, was published by Black Lawrence Press. His most recent collection, Playing Poker With Tennessee Williams, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2020.

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