Some Days It's A Love Story, by Jason Irwin   J a s o n   I r w i n

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Some Days It's A Love Story, by Jason Irwin (2005)

"Jason Irwin has a real gift—as well as urgent material—pushing his poetry."
— Philip Levine                   
Some Days It's A Love Story Copyright 2005 by Jason Irwin

Poet Bio: Jason Irwin

Sample Poems:     Main Street        At the Grocery        Going Home        Some Days It's A Love Story

Poet Bio
Jason Irwin
Jason Irwin was born in Jamestown, NY, in 1971 and grew up in Dunkirk, NY, where he attended both Catholic and public schools.

His first collection of poetry, Watering the Dead, won the 2006/2007 Transcontinental Poetry Award and was published in 2008 by Pavement Saw Press. He is also the author of the chapbook Where You Are (Night Ballet Press, 2014). His one-act play, "CIVILIZATION," had its staged reading debut on April 24, 2010 at The Living Theatre in New York City.

Jason is a graduate of SUNY Fredonia and the MFA Poetry Program at Sarah Lawrence College. He now lives in Pittsburgh, PA.


Main Street

From the front porch we guessed
colors of cars, drank lemonade
out of paper cups and listened
to the Kapinski kids get beat
by their mother. That dissonance
reverberated through back yards
where Virgin Marys kept vigil
in bathtub grottoes, and old man Tilly,
senile and drunk, promised
to pulverize us for throwing rocks
at his truck. Twenty years now

since he surrendered
to the Elks Memorial Home and the Kapinskis
moved to some God forsaken
Des Moines, or South Dayton,
after their mother's fourth husband
realized he was a woman, trapped
in the wrong movie, I think of them,
wonder what became of Priscilla,
who showed me her privates
behind the rabbit cage when we were nine,
or Timmy and George, who were all teeth,
sandy hair and bruises
no one ever questioned, not even
Miss Butler, who taught Third grade.

I remember Sally, too,
blue as the swimming pool where they found her,
too young to cross the street alone
or read Hamlet. Sometimes I drive
by the old house on Main Street,
I can still see them:
faces and fists against glass.

Copyright ©2005 Jason Irwin
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At the Grocery

Between produce and discounted bread
a man shoves oranges
into his pockets. I want to tell him
take some apples, too,
a banana, avocado, a six pack, anything
that will help him through another day,
tell all the hungry to come and feats,
to feed them like Jesus
fed them in the Gospels. Instead
I walk to the deli, pat Betsy,
up to her elbows in potato salad, famous
for her Christmas party striptease.

In the break room Tommy sits—
mop at his side, legs crossed, boot atop
steel-toed boot, going bald, alcoholic—
thumbing through a newspaper
he can't read.

What's up? he asks, as I sit down,
eye the clock: quarter of four,
fifteen minutes before I punch out and he
punches in. Not much, I reply, notice
a pallet of canned foods waiting
to be stocked and think how I've worked
at this store for one year
and six months. Too long, and I think
how my father and grandfather worked,
of all the dreams they must've swallowed
to put food on the table, pay the mortgage
and know I'm not that faithful or strong.

Copyright ©2005 Jason Irwin

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Going Home

Across from the Babe Ruth Field—
where Eddie Zappie pitched three perfect games
and could've made it,
if not for booze and Stacy Watson—
I kick the dust in the parking lot
at the old steel mill
where both my grandfathers did time,
watch the sun through broken
windows, the bricks and rust, ten years
since anyone worked here.

Downtown it's just as quiet,
a few old men on benches and kids
on bikes racing red lights.
All the stores went in '75,
now there's a Wal-Mart out by the Thruway.

On Center Street it's the same fat girl
behind the counter at the convenient store,
the same empty box cars
on the Third Street overpass and at Sara's Tavern,
the same faces drink the once local draft,
day after day, like the old women
who chant novenas and lust
after the priests at St. Mary's.

I can hardly imagine what Dunkirk was like
when my mother was young, let alone
in 1851, when the first train arrived with President Fillmore
and Daniel Webster onboard.

There are people here who talk of leaving,
but only go as far as Bruce's Corner Store,
or the Greek diner at the dock.
Maybe it's that desolation I love
and fear.
Maybe it's the view of the hills to the south,
or the three smoke stacks
of the electric plant at sunset,
or maybe it's the sound of my own voice,
reciting the streets named for birds and fish
as if they were the names of saints.

Copyright ©2005 Jason Irwin
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Some Days it's a Love Story

At P & G Grocery the dairy manager
has a Bachelor's in Economics
and a pulled groin
from lifting crates of milk.
He's been writing the first chapter to a novel
for six years.
Some days it's a love story,
some days a comedy,
about people in a small town,
like the guy in aisle eight who fits
all he learned from his father
into his right hand and smacks his son
for asking too many questions,
or the cashier at express
who flirts with the younger bank teller
who comes in every day for lunch,
handing him change she smiles,
avoids his eyes and remembers
it's been over two years
since she's been kissed.
Outside, a factory worker, fresh
off the midnight trick
climbs into a beat up Chevy,
opens a can of Milwaukee's Best
he bought for breakfast, takes a sip,
sets it between his legs, keys the ignition
and thinks about the day his wife left,
complaining he was the one
who changed.
Copyright ©2005 Jason Irwin
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