©2019 by Theater Talk ... and I'm Anthony Chase

Buffalo, NY, USA

  • Anthony Chase

Poem inspired by "Jump" and "The Bridges of Madison County

Poem by Justin Karcher

Michele Marie Roberts at Roseman Bridge, Winterset, Iowa. Photo: Brian Milbrand

The Bridges of Erie County

By Justin Karcher


I don’t know how many bridges

are in Erie County

but I did a Google search

and found a report from 2017

concluding that 52 bridges in Erie County

are structurally deficient


for this poem, we will assume

those are the only bridges in the county

and that they have always been structurally deficient

just like the people who live here

but that’s not a bad thing

it just means that we’re still standing against all odds


understandably there are a few cracks in our chests

that maybe every now and again we give in to lust

but lust means many things

like whatever disrupts your dulling complacency

or whatever makes your heavy heart disappear temporarily

just something to make your legs and eyes ascend


oh the things we do to rise above our self-imposed

deficiency, the things we do to connect

with the world around us, how we’re always rising above

a river or lake of tears, how we’re good neighbors

right? how we do anything to carry our loved ones

through their depression, through their breakdowns


we spend our nights with mirrors convincing ourselves

we’re bridges that bend toward the common good

dreaming up fairytales, like looking for lost lovers

in the pre-brunch dawn, following their footprints

in the Sunday snow while the wind transforms skin

into stained glass because the idea of connection is holy


we spend our mornings with mirrors convincing ourselves

it’s good to be target practice for a sun

that just wants to paint from one place to the next

and that’s okay, changing our clothes every three seconds

because maybe we don’t know who we are yet

there’s the deficiency but something more, so we carry on


even on the weekends when we all go missing

when we warm up like cars on fire

but with the radios still turned on

and playing the week’s most popular pop songs

despite all the ash, we will always do whatever it takes

to stay lively, the opposite of a ghost in a ghostly world


like how we’re always walking around crowded bars

and asking everyone to share their location

because it’s a thing

because you like how their little faces look

as they move through life on your phone map

always connecting you to whatever they’re doing


because you like knowing that you can drop everything

at a moment’s notice and carry them to the finish line

if you ever see them slowing down, maybe feed them soup

made from vegetables plucked from your garden

or maybe replace the river rocks with pillows

when they decide to jump from a bridge in the moonlight