Scott Silsbe: “Reading Rich Gegick’s Greasy Handshakes at Neighbors Tavern in Jeannette, Pennsylvania”

 

 

Reading Rich Gegick’s Greasy Handshakes at Neighbors Tavern in Jeannette, Pennsylvania

Since it’s my first time at Neighbors, I don’t know what I want
to drink. Call me a snob, but none of the drafts look appealing 
to me. But I order one anyway. I can’t recall the last time that 
I had me a Coors Banquet beer. And it doesn’t taste bad. But it 
doesn’t taste great either—perhaps one of the worst things you 
can say about a beer. But I’ve got a copy of Greasy Handshakes 
and that is something. At the art gallery, Newman gave me a big 
box of them to take to Rich, his author copies. And I pulled one 
out of the box to have as a companion at the bar, promising I’d 
replace it after my brief stop off at Neighbors. Thinking maybe 
I’d only have to have one Coors Banquet if Bobby would be up 
for company once I am back in Allegheny County, and across
the Westinghouse Bridge, where I feel at home, close to my lady 
and my friends and my collection of books and records, cassettes
and compact discs and 8-tracks, DVDs and VHS tapes. I know 
I’m a sucker for crap. I fucking love crap. Maybe older crap 
especially, but any crap’ll do. My crap. All that crap that I own.
That crap almost makes you feel immortal, you know? I’m going
to own all this crap forever. These records. These old-ass books.
I didn’t spill any of my Banquet on the book I borrowed, Rich.
Next time I go to Neighbors, I think I’ll get a bottle of High Life.
Or else maybe I’ll just stick to going to Johnny’s Wife’s Place.

 

About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

 

More By Scott Silsbe:

Double Downriver

 

Image Credit: John Vachon “Bartender in Catholic Sokol Club. Ambridge, Pennsylvania” (1941) The Library of Congress

 

“Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship” By Scott Silsbe

 

 

Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship

Admiral Salada, I don’t know if it’s really true—
if the Golden Arc that you built got you to space.
By chance, I found myself in a small apartment
in Braddock Hills sifting through what remained
of your library—books rescued, I was told, from 
a house fire. Some of the better titles I noticed…
Experiences of Space in Contemporary Physics.
The Harmonics of Sound, Color, and Vibration.
Extraterrestrial Contact and Human Responses.
Effects of Nuclear War on the Pittsburgh Area.

The man who was selling the books handed me 
your old business card, which is how I know of
The Golden Arc. That and his story about how 
you just vanished one day after years and years
of telling people that you were building yourself 
a way to leave this cracked earth, busted world,
this unsustainable planet we’re breaking to shards.

I hope that your spaceship held up and got you 
to wherever it was that you were heading for.
I now keep your business card in my wallet as 
a conversation piece, as a souvenir from my job
to show off to people I meet. And I guess as a
small piece of your life, which I know little of—
just a small fragment from someone who had hope
of another world that was obtainable, if very distant.
Someone who didn’t care if people thought he was
stupid, crazy, or a dreamer of otherworldly dreams.

 

About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

 

Image Credit: “Le voyage dans la lune, en plein dans l’œil!!”, a drawing by Georges Méliès of the vessel landing in the moon’s eye in the film Le voyage dans la lune Public Domain

 

“Double Downriver” By Scott Silsbe

 

 

Double Downriver

I grew up on a dead end in the shadow of a trash dump.
It was not exempt from its own kind of magic though.

The dead end of the street gave way to an open field,
which led to a stand of trees bordering a skinny creek.
Bikes had forged a dirt path from the street to the creek
and there was an old cement culvert and old rope-swing
back among the trees a ways if you knew where to look. 

On most Friday nights, we could all hear this great roar 
of many car engines revving up down at the dragway, 
even though it was a good two miles away from us.

When it would thunderstorm in the middle of the night,
we would wake up in the morning with booming heads,
lightning in our eyes, and all of the streets wiped clean.
The gulls squawking over the bulldozers on the dump.

 

About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

 

Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Untitled photo, possibly related to: Children at city dump, Ambridge, Pennsylvania” (1938) from The Library of Congress