New poetry by Halsey Hyer

ANYTHING BUT AIR
for Austin

What was it like

for you to stand

feet wavering over black lattice drop?

High above the Monongahela, you

high on whatever you said was dope

to you at the time.

What made you jump, become swallowed

by the jaws of the current, your ribs cracked

lungs full of blood & water?

Did the friends you were with

push you off the Hot Metal Bridge?

Did they tell the pigs, I didn’t know

he couldn’t swim?

Lifeboat paramedic caught you

by the hood of your sweatshirt.

Pulled you in, back turned to her

your limp arm still cradling torso.

HOW TO SURVIVE
after Jeffrey McDaniel

Climb tops of pine with padded winter gloves

during barbeques. Feed Cool Ranch Doritos to toads

buried in manure. Make sure the neighbor kids know

that Santa Claus isn’t real. Kick vending machines

until all the money falls out & play striptease games

behind community centers on Halloween nights. Lust after

each other & murderous Anthony Hopkins films. Don’t change

your first name, only last. Be known only as faggot.

Cook up DMT on the stove with soap in your eyes & blow lines

off your nephew’s play piano, blow a thousand dollars. Down bottles

of anything you can you’ll die if you don’t learn how to revive

yourself & your friends—refuse to attend your own life

or the funerals of Olivia, Donny, Aaron, Buddy, Gaby, Austin

refuse to believe so many of us are dead.

About the contributor

Halsey Hyer is an Associate Editor for Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, emcee of the Red Dog Reading Series, member of the Madwomen in the Attic, and co-founder of Goat Farm Poetry Society.

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