Poetry: After the Steel and Walnuts


After the Steel

Welcome to the new dispensation,
The Sands in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
a stop-over on your way Midwest,
when even your tires whine
Akron, Akron. You who dreamt
of The Giant Tire and the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame instead
found The Pilgrim’s Fountain
which hasn’t worked for fifty years.
Let the Traveler Be Refreshed.
Between Sun Inn and Musikfest
all our kindnesses are rent.
Everything is restlessness
plus time and the traffic on 22 West.



You’ve seen squirrels throw them down.
Before the chattering’s done we’re gone.
We must piece together seed and shell
or the walnut tree grows unrecognizable. […]

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Ken Fifer’s poetry collections include Architectural Conditions (2012, with architect Larry Mitnick), After Fire, Water Presents, The Moss That Rides on the Back of the Rock, and Falling Man.  His work has appeared in about one hundred different journals and magazines including Barrow Street, New Letters, Ploughshares, The Literary Review, and California Quarterly. Fifer holds an MA and PhD from Michigan and is a professor of English at Penn State University.