John Thomas Menesini

The Ballad of Lawrenceville Steve

                                For Joe Orum 

you had the room’s ear

                   drunks rapt  

                   stories of doing coke

                              with the cop

                              who arrested you,

                              you in cuffs,

                              and he held the straw up to your face

                                     and you still got booked   

the maniacs at the bar

      you kept order

                     tallied so you said in busted teeth

                    or mashed mouths   

or at Three Rivers

      up in 606

      nosebleed heaven     

Ziploc bags of vodka

underneath the ice

and lemonade

                  a few joints each

                            between the three of yinz 

           Cut to now again,

          waxing deftly in front of crowds   

          “the lean years they called them,

           for the Steelers, in the 80s and 90s.

           Man if we woulda got Danny-Fucking-Marino

           I swear-ta-Christ we woulda got two more in the 80s,

           and that woulda rode us right into ’95,

           those Dallas jagoffs wouldna stood a chance,

           fucking Neil O’Donnell! 

           Yeah but whoever the fuck O’Donnell was throwing to the second
goddamn pick blew his fucking route, ya gotta give him that much…” 

(at least they know what they’re talking about) 

but games always end,

and joints go out, for now,

so you’d again cross the bridge

head up through downtown

Penn Avenue 1983,

back to the basement

of your mom’s,

in too-tight jeans

and a moustache for the ages

red eyed without care 

       yinzer swagger

       all the way







John Thomas Menesini has published three collections of poetry, The Last Great Glass Meat Million (2003), epit ap h (2007), endo (2011), and was included in the anthology Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (2006). His work appeared in several issues of The Burning Bush. He lives in the city of Pittsburgh. A second poem by John Thomas Menesini, Paris of Appalachia, appears in the downloadable version of The Burning Bush 2.