Kevin Pilkington


I bought an old piano from the guy
in the apartment above mine
after I got him to throw the black keys
in for free. Too bad the dog lying
underneath it like a cashew wasn’t
for sale. I tried playing it by ear
but kept hurting the side of my head.
I’m thinking of taking lessons.

There’s a playground with a skating
rink on Seventh. It reminded me
when I was a kid in first grade
how I fell on the one near my home
and the way Francine Peron skated
around me giggling as I crawled off.
My face was red as the skirt around
her waist that flared out like an umbrella.
After that there was no way I could
ask her to marry me the next day
in recess like I planned. Years later
another girl laughed at me but I made sure
I wasn’t on all fours or anywhere near
thin ice.

Ever since I heard a friend of mine
jumped from a bridge near Spokane
so he wouldn’t have to show up for work
on Monday, I won’t fly west and only
take part –time jobs. Except for all
the noise: clouds rubbing against sky,
cats walking, the war taking place inside
the novel on my desk, cold beers losing
their heads in the bar on the corner,
I like it here. And I don’t let things
get to me the way they once did.
When my ex wrote to say the weeping
willow in back of the place we shared
stopped crying as soon as I left
and has never looked better, I admit
it bothered me for a few minutes.
Only a few.


Kevin Pilkington is the author of six collections: his collection Spare Change was the La Jolla Poets Press National Book Award winner and his chapbook won the Ledge Poetry Prize. His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines including: Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia, Greensboro Review, North American Review, Gulf Coast, and Valparaiso Review. His latest collection The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree is available from Black Lawrence Press.