“Allegheny Valley, Exit 48” by Meghan Tutolo

Meghan Tutolo


I wonder if it matters
to the truck driver on the shoulder
opening a map like wings spread
under a Mets hat, a cigarette
all Turnpike in this shutterspeed
of drive-by, this town and how
everyone in it will always be
drowned out.

When I’m asked where I’m from
I imagine my dad’s hands
thick and greased, shifting under
a now-dead city brilliant
with only the beacon of barges
silent and tracing the river,
how we’re all asleep there
in that boxy run-off of industry
rotting along the Allegheny—
aluminum and steel
bullets and body armor,
dreaming in all that heavy metal
and burnt oranges.

I don’t say any of that.
Because we’re somehow
living that sadness, still cracked
as concrete, tall as mortar cliffs
and mountains we cut into
for dollar stores, drive-thrus
thinking we escaped unscathed
in Subarus and next-door
suburbs burning Yankee candles
burning leaves in lawn bags and
old tax returns, newspapers
burning up.

Solemn as smoke stacks,
the kids from New Kensington
are stuck to each other, licked
between hamburger wrappers
and a community college defiance
telling people we matter
having to prove it
elbows on counters and all that
downhill running, arms open
unafraid, but afraid
to go home.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts


Meghan Tutolo: “How does being an adjunct affect my work? Hmm … there’s a wild sort of uncertainty I had to lean to in the adjunct trade. I have a day job, you know, but my night comp classes have taught me to be more confident in myself and what I do, no matter what I do. And that passion works. No, this isn’t sap. I actually have to fake confidence on a weekly basis, so my writing has gotten a little bolder too. Believing in oneself is the key to unlocking potential. Cliché blah, blah, blah. True story, though. Oh and I bring them candy. Kit Kats are a hit.” (website)

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