Squirrel Hill

“"I dwell in Possibility- A fairer House than Prose-" .”
      — Emily Dickinson

Michael Albright

PHOTO: Michael Albright

Michael Albright's chapbook, In the Hall of Dead Animals and Viking Tools, was published by Finishing Line Press. Michael is a founder of the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. He is occasionally sighted during the warm weather months reading out loud at the open mic at Hemingway’s Café. His poems have appeared in the Loyalhanna Review, Uppagus, and The Brentwood Anthology. Michael resides on a windy hilltop near Greensburg with his wife Lori and an ever-changing array of children and other animals.


The one with spiky blonde hair is annoying,
but, boy, can she cook.
Give her a green, a juice, a cereal, and an organ,
and she’ll whip up her Cider Marinaded
Broiled Ox Liver, Crusted with Cheerios,
on a Bed of Arugula. It’s the winner
and it looks delicious.

No, it doesn’t, really. It looks
like someone doing the best they can
with what they have been given.

And this has been turned into competition;
who can make the least worst mess of it.
The panel casts stern judgment,
as if this is to be taken seriously.
Who knows if the chefs really do?
But there does seems to be real pain
in the faces of the vanquished,
and smug satisfaction for the victor

And what of us, who are watching?
What do we get out of this?
A release from boredom, some pleasant sensations,
pangs of hunger, and a sense of time wasted.

This, I imagine, is how most poems are created,
the disparate ingredients of an ordinary day:

ennui, birdsong, desire and regret.

Hitting the Target

Inside these walls all things are made possible,
desire, hope, fulfillment, despair.
The bland stone uniformity of the exterior
belies the infinitude of choice within.
It is nearly axiomatic
that you end up finding something
other than you were looking for,
or you find them both, and more.
You have forgotten the difference
between need and want, if you ever thought
there was one in the first place.
All of creation exists in here;
birth and childhood, raiment and sustenance,
work and leisure and well-being,
and then, when it is time to go,
a final reckoning, and the bill must be paid
before heading outside where the light is real,
back into a world where there are no limits
to the choices of the things we do not want.

In Name Of

Mass General,
that shining citadel,
a dozen discrete buildings
bringing forth the illusion
of being one.

I learned every inch of it, I could walk from the Liberty
to the SICU, five buildings away,
barely going outside.

After the second day,
she never really came back.
Waiting, walking, waiting,
pacing the corridors,
looking for a window
that would never be open.

The day before I let her go,
I stumbled into the chapel,
feeling like a trespasser,
reading entries in the guestbook:

KH – My husband John
physicians treat, God cures
I believe

GRD – O Lord God I pray
that my wife will conceive
and have a normal baby
in name of Jesus Christ

And then, in the next box,
a blinking yellow light,
Help me,
with the initials written in,
then inked completely out.

All three poems were first published in Loyalhanna Review.