A Morning Mambo with Bernstein and a Public Defender

by    /  October 28, 2020  / Comments Off on A Morning Mambo with Bernstein and a Public Defender

by Lisa Brunner

Today on the morning commute, I decided that my soul could use a little Bernstein. Not decided. That’s too weak. Craved. The way I craved my coffee — a craving that doesn’t release until I burn my fingers on the mug. The blast of energy tempered by feathered melodies. The overture of West Side Story summons the street before the story has even opened. But

this is not a love story. Snap. This is not star-crossed lovers together on a balcony. Snap. Not secret meetings and promises There’s A Place For Us. Snap. That place isn’t here. Nor is it Cadillacs Zoom In America! No amount of hard work will pull you ahead. “Swell,” and “Daddy-o” will not erase where you come from. Snap snap. You can’t go home. To the alcohol, to the neglect. So you stalk the streets all night seeking the cover of men or the cover of violence. There is no honor in doing what you have to. There is only death. So keep cool, boy. Real

—The real story is the grit. The story of

the strength of the hatred- because that is all there is to believe in, Officer Krupke. You, Officer, have made it an art. So

Keep cool. If you don’t, there’s a judge waiting.

And I can’t save you by myself.

Lisa Brunner is a violinist, poet, lawyer, and lifelong Pittsburgher. Her poetry is influenced by the music she plays on the violin and her time spent as a public defender. Outside of her legal work and writing, Lisa teaches violin and, when she has time, plays with a few community ensembles, including the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. Lisa received her Ph.B. in History from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 for her study of President Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and use of military trials against civilians; her juris doctor from Duquesne University in 2014; and will begin her MFA in creative writing at Chatham University in the Fall 2020 term. She recently learned that she is the recipient of Chatham’s Robert Hull Mansell Endowed Poetry Fellowship.

City of Asylum believes that All Pittsburghers are Poets. With the Poem of the Week series, we seek to increase the readership and appreciation of poetry locally by publishing poems written by residents of Allegheny County of all ages and levels of experience. In partnership with the Poetry Editors at Sampsonia Way Magazine, City of Asylum advances our mission to defend, celebrate, and build on creative freedom of expression. This project received a RADical ImPAct Grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).

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