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2 poems by Jason Irwin






Happy Hour at the Bull Frog Inn                                                                  



In a far corner near the foosball table,

the trumpet player abandoned years ago

by the circus, languishes

like Mantegna’s Saint Sebastian,

in a blood stained polyester suit.

Two girls in matching cowboy hats

dance near the jukebox that’s blasting

a Bob Seger triple play. I’m at the bar,

falling in love with Susie,

who’s navigating me on a tour of her tattoos.

From archipelago to archipelago

my eyes travel southward,

following a constellation of blue stars

that disappear beneath her low slung jeans.





















Things We Cannot Repair                                                 



At Johns Hopkins when I was eight or nine,

I remember a little black girl with two artificial legs

asked me to give her a kiss goodbye

the day I was leaving to go back home

to New York in time for the Fourth of July

and my birthday, and how frightened I was

of this girl—no more than seven years old—frightened

of what my father would say

if he found out I kissed a little black girl

and all these years later she comes to me,

and I am once again that awkward little boy

now grown into a awkward man, still

unable to hold on to things

without losing or breaking them; unable

to express all the fears and desires swimming in my heart.

Look how foolish and boring I’ve become,

for there’s nothing more boring than listening to a man

talk of his accomplishments or regrets.

Maybe we just need to learn to live with things as they are;

the gifts we could never give, or accept;

all the things we’ve left broken; things we cannot repair.






Jason Irwin grew up in Dunkirk, NY and now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Watering the Dead, his first full-length collection, won the 2006/2007 Transcontinental Poetry Award and was published in 2008 by Pavement Saw Press. Some Days It's A Love Story won the 2005 Slipstream Press Chapbook Prize. A forthcoming chapbook Where You Are will be published by Night Ballet Press.