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City of Angles and Approaches

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City of Angles and Approaches


Steel city

Iron city

City of bridges

Renaissance city

First gateway

To the west

City of immigrants

City of technology,

Once heavy manufacturing



City of

Corporate headquarters

Three wide rivers merge

The Allegheny and the Monongahela

Meet to form

The Ohio

Cargo moves from Pittsburgh

Down the Ohio

To meet the Mississippi


City of

Great universities

And hospitals

Expensive housing

While expanding

City of neighborhoods


Entrenched in the best way

And changing


City of

Triangular streets

(those three rivers)


Meets Appalachia

Mines and mills

Mostly closed

With careers and lives

Changing or still

Like statues without hearts

As well as movement


Life must move

This great city moves

My childhood home

I leave and return

Come back, it says

Drive through the tunnels

And behold me

Take the funiculars


Gaze at me from

Mount Washington

I am here

For so many people

I’m here for you


C L Couch


(on the last day while visiting with family)



Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash


Sunday Matinee

Sunday Matinee


A deep sigh is a good thing


It takes regret

Folds it into wings and lets it go

Not that it will leave

For good but

Might fly out of grasp

Maybe out of mind before

It re-alights

And I have to take it back


Exhalation causes other things

To leave

Molecules we’d rather do without

Maybe some toxic atoms

Elements of life that will work better

Somewhere else

Lead and mercury

Irradiated particles that come from

Life too near a glowing factory

These days


It’s all right

Nothing much more dangerous than

When the smoke rolled out

From Pittsburgh to

Its suburbs

Generations’ mischief

Doesn’t seem to change


Like parents to campsites, we should leave

The world a better place for


We gave up on that

I’m not sure why


C L Couch



“Paper Plane” by Xavier Ríos

La fabrica de nubes – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Early Morning Half-Light

Early Morning Half-Light


I had a dream and in it

A love and I

With a friend were talking about


I was asked if I liked the snow

At the time we were surrounded

By it

Nonetheless, I said I liked snow


And my dear one said so, too

Clearly, our friend at the time

Only wanted to hear

About warmth

So I waxed

(maybe that’s a mansplain)


I like four quarters to the year

With time for everything

I’m sure I had that when a child

In Pittsburgh

Though it’s not like that


Global warning having moved

The even year up north

Somewhere in New York


I looked at the one and thought,

Maybe we’ll go there

And then dreams do what they do


C L Couch



“Vier Jahreszeiten” (Bernd Altenstein) am Holler See in Bremen

JeKr – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Lent 13

Lent 13


We kill them

in New Zealand.

We kill them

in Pittsburgh.

We kill them when we leave

disasters go unplanned.

What is wrong with us

that we must in living


ways deny the worth

of each of us

in every moment?


There is an answer:

maybe it starts small

within a verdant nucleus

and then another.

And then we make something like

synapse so that

the network of humanity

cannot function in any other way

but connected.


C L Couch



New Zealand Mosque Massacre Live-Streamed

“Let’s get this party started.” Those were the chilling opening lines of a now-viral Facebook live video streamed by the gunman who casually and methodically killed at least 41 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand Friday. Eight more people died in an attack at another mosque, but it’s unclear if the same gunman was responsible.


Split Apple Rock in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Split_Apple_Rock_Abel_Tasman_National_Park_New_Zealand.jpg: Alexander Klinkderivative work: —kallerna™ – Split_Apple_Rock_Abel_Tasman_National_Park_New_Zealand.jpg, CC BY 3.0,


in the neighborhood

in the neighborhood


in the neighborhood of make-believe

it’s always a beautiful day

blue, sunlit (spotlit), houses even

trolley rolls making celestina music

it could not be otherwise, since

it’s make-believe, and we would imagine

only ever placid scenes, i guess


the studio was in pittsburgh, home of

contrary weather, snow, ice, deep

temperatures cold or hot

and much is changeable throughout

the day, though i don’t think this means



after all,

we make this up

for and by our host, the

peaceful man


i might wish for different days,

something cloudy for a change

maybe an unobtrusive rainfall or the

kind of snow just right for angels and

snowpeople or the kind of hot that takes

us joyfully to swimming pools

or inside icecream shops


this would make my make-believe, i guess

different skies for different days

without destruction caused

by anything, and that


would be made-up, indeed

eschewing tempests of reality

taking only friendly patterned skies with us to

meet the king of superstitious days


c l couch



TARS631, Attribution,

Linie 43, Wien






It happened in my one-time town

It could happen anywhere

We’ve known that for a while, now

We like the violence we have in

The arenas

Until we have to pay


A prayer service

Affirming spiritual courage


A coward’s assurance of easy

Semitic targets

Let’s go to church and kill

Brings his guns


What is the time

What will we do


The news mentions “a search for answers”

But the answers are all over, everywhere


There’s no mystery here beyond the numinous

The life of faith that the synagogue enjoys

The people there

Their guests

And anything by way of intercession

For the rest of us



That eleven people died

We have to say so far

Worshipers and officers who are wounded

And more

In need of mortal healing

And more

The killer still alive


Pray for forgiveness sometime

Not today

Sorry I don’t have a bigger feeling

Not today


C L Couch

Where a 3,000-year-old tradition meets a 5-year-old’s curiosity.

Tree of Life or L’Simcha Congregation is a traditional, progressive, and egalitarian congregation based in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

We offer a warm and welcoming environment where even the oldest Jewish traditions become relevant to the way our members live today. From engaging services, social events, family-friendly activities, and learning opportunities to support in times of illness or sorrow, we match the old with the new to deliver conservative Jewish tradition that’s accessible, warm, and progressive.

If you haven’t visited us yet, we welcome the chance to introduce you to our community!


The End of the Story

The End of the Story


My Pittsburgh neighborhood of Aleppo

Is dying

The last reports are terrors

Military action lost strategically

To killing

Civilians who lived there only

Or came to help the ones already wounded


Final words are spoken through

Electrons, visiting upon the world

The revulsion of the void

Of life, which is all that is

Increasing here


Wait, my mistake, it’s Aleppo

In Syria

The first city

Still dying, still dead

Still a message to those of us

Who read and pray

And politic and must go on


The last Marx brother

In a raucous comedy turned horror story


Convicted, we establish

A new front for life

In places we might own for

A while longer


Otherwise, there might be nothing

All around


C L Couch


Pittsburgh Last Night

Pittsburgh Last Night


Pittsburgh where I grew up

Five persons killed by two others

Using guns for the sole purpose

Of murder


The victims

Hoping without conscious

Thought to take part in the

Open—a backyard festivity

Homiest of parties


Home belief destroyed

Celebration as a cause

Never believed in again


Debates will go on

Who cares

The sides were answered


Talk is over when bullets

Tear through people


Debate done

Psalm 16, a song of (USA) Thanksgiving (Day)

Psalm 16
a song of (USA) Thanksgiving (Day)

The Canadians had their day already.
I wonder if that’s because they’re
more easily, readily thankful.

In the USA, there’s so much to
be thankful for. I grew up in
Pittsburgh, and I like returning
there. Pittsburghers tend to
speak their minds, and their
minds are good. (Their driving’s
better, too.)

I have family. The five of us with
spouses, children of the new
generation, and pets (old, new). We
are scattered, which is sad, though
in our ways we keep in touch.

Friends I have, a small circle. And
I have made it smaller. Not the
happier of moves. But the friends
I have I cherish. They are good
for me, so good. They circle out
in nearness, which is the sense of
those we know and how and when.

I live alone and often feel the
peace of that. (I first typed pace
for peace, and I enjoy that too.)
I sleep badly, which means I have
hours of the day to be awake
and doing such as this. Would
someone else put up with that?

Hannah, my cat of nineteen
years. She is gone now, and
eighteen years were pretty good.
Then she faded fast. Not bad,
all in all. She was the queen and
I her knave. She ruled in blessed
benevolence, scolding me for what
is apt within the catly-noble
mind (which means daily
reprimand for not mind-reading
every whim). Still good, good-humored
company. Now a loss, though better
she go first. She awaits me on the other
side, ready to scold me what else I
missed in mortal time.

Mostly. I have you. Lord, I
know you love me anyway and
always. You love me in darkness
and in light. I am perpetually
astounded. And, yes,

thankful for this, all this, the
plenty that you give.

Thank you, Lord—Love, me

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