To get to the Pittsburgh Hilton where my dad, president of United Steelworkers Local 1223, was put up by the union during contract negotiations with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, my mom had to merge our ’82 Ford Escort in city traffic. The same woman who, despite her religion, cursed like my dad, a swearing savant, when she had to cross a sleepy stretch of Rt. 2 in tiny McMechen, WV, oh for shit’s sake!, to start the 10-minute drive home from my grandparents’ house. So, we circled the same city block until we were all nauseated and I wailed I’m never going to see my Daddy again! We made it somehow. We each remember the trip differently. My brother, the Pittsburgh Pirates game, the ballcap my dad bought him, hotel waffles as big as your head; me, petting the dinosaur femur on display at the Carnegie Museum, seeing the nightmare T-Rex skeleton; my mom, discovering her first grey hair in the hotel bathroom; and my dad, trying to make everyone laugh, stuffing his cheeks with ballpark peanuts like a squirrel in October, while wondering if the old-timers would get to keep their pensions, how he could convince the young guys to swallow another pay cut, if this was the beginning of the end.
Carrie Conners, originally from Moundsville, West Virginia, lives in Queens, New York and is an English professor at LaGuardia Community College-CUNY. Her first poetry collection, Luscious Struggle (BrickHouse Books, 2019), was a 2020 Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her second collection, Species of Least Concern was a finalist for the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award (Main Street Rag, 2022). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Bodega, Kestrel, Split Rock Review, RHINO, and The Monarch Review, among others. She is also the author of the book, Laugh Lines: Humor, Genre, and Political Critique in Late Twentieth- Century American Poetry (University Press of Mississippi, 2022).