City Slang Sound and Vision Between The Lines Invisible Cities TiNY Art

1877 Point Bridge, Pgh

Michael S. Begnal


What great portcullis-like
iron lattice-work towers
stood as cathedral spires
at both banks,
the bridge suspended
in smoke and haze

what gothic iron,
finials on pinnacles
pointed out to space,
dead worlds of rock,
what great steel beams
suspended the span

was it clocks in towers
high above barges of coal,
cables hanging down in
graded decreasing lengths,
down, then moving up again
to the towers of the black bridge?

a shadow on the Monongahela,
mist on the coal,
shadow moves across
falling muddy banks—
the river’s rainy surface
underneath the Black Gate

under the shadow of the bridge
hidden from the wharf,
wet smoke congeals on
the steel above,
and in the slow organ hours
a drop collects

and falls


Michael S. Begnal’s new collection Future Blues is due this year from the Irish publisher Salmon Poetry. His previous collections are Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005), and The Lakes of Coma (Six Gallery Press, 2003). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Begnal currently lives in the city of Pittsburgh where he teaches poetry and composition. His blog is at