an east end ode

I had a friend named Annie waited
tables at the Cage
on Forbes just E. of Murray, autumn
’02 when, burned out on 14 hours
6 days a week after
2 years for a cause in which I once

I’d escape my office to work at NY Times
crosswords w/her & talk shit
about the cord-clad University guys who
drank there weekends, would introduce themselves as
"doctor." She was pretty, bobbed brunette, eyes like lacquered

or coffee, grew up in the South Hills, was the
subject, arguably, of a short story by M.
Chabon years back, his Lawrencian pinings
not yet honed into now-
famous drivel catalogued

even on film. My longings were more
real, I like to think, or at least

tangible. I don’t know. I was still married to politics
& unable to think in the teenage terms
I revert to now when so smitten. We went once

to Homestead thrifting
for winter clothes, the Mon Valley still
splashed in the red-orange and browns of October. The

Steelers won a lot that season & Sundays were all
dollar slices of pizza, Yeungling beer, warm sidewalk
conversation w/strangers & sunset
walks alone on Panther Hollow. A nice place to live, I thought,
if I had the time to. I left my career that

winter, returned to Ohio to wait out my grandmother’s
dying, moved back to Chicago, reunited my band &
attempted poetry, which I’d
made my major yrs. before & now Pittsburgh
is past like that I also
left only to return.