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"Combustion" by Michael Brosnan

Even when the summer heat

numbs the heart and we’re hard stuck

in the urban rim’s rut of traffic,


choked down the funnel

of construction cones from three

to two to one weary lane of humanity


inching over the Kosciuszko Bridge

bumper to battered bumper and late again

for a gathering of friends, you


can’t help but offer kind words

to the men and their oily machines.

I admire how you find so much to admire.


Among the scattershot of jackhammering,

the welding, the riveting, the revving

of internal combustion engines, the belched plumes


of diesel exhaust, the ever-haze of overreach,

you say listen. Out there, cutting the industrial racket,

the soft coo and wing-squeak of skittering pigeons


and the faint sound of love songs wafting out

the inch-opened windows of the creeping along.

We stare ahead.


Your hand finds mine,

our fingers intertwine, lock together

in this uneasy moving on.





Michael Brosnan the author of three books of poetry: EMU BLIS, BUMS LIE, BLUE-ISM (2024), Adrift (2023) and The Sovereignty of the Accidental (2018). His poetry has appeared in dozens of literary journals, including ConfrontationNew LettersBarrow StreetPrairie SchoonerThe Moth, and Rattle. His writing has won awards from New Letters, The University of New Hampshire, C.W. Post College, and other arts organizations. In 2023, his poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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