“Cottman Avenue House Party”

A Poem by Brian Tierney

February 17, 2022  By Brian Tierney

Hour two, John’s trying to take his shadow off.
On the neighbor’s lawn, stray bottles arranged in green-
glass bouquets, I hear someone scream,
and the cock-eyed towers of the poorly run junkyard
just behind Tim’s groaning like cellos
unspooling in the wind; I recall the boy (when I was
a boy) who’d hopped its fence and was torn open
by its sentinel Dobermans, whose violence, we were told,
was certainly atypical. The owner, who shot them,
hung their tags from a mounted shuriken.
Somewhere above all that metal shit shifting I imagine
two beautiful teenagers are kissing. I recall pigeons,
televisions, fridges in there. Other winters, other
screams: my cousin Kristen’s limp right hand
fanned open near the paintcan in the suicide scene.


rise and float_brian tirney

From Rise and Float by Brian Tierney (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Brian Tierney. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

Brian Tierney
Brian Tierney
Brian Tierney is the author of Rise and Float, which was selected by Randall Mann as the winner of the 20-2021 Jake Adam York Prize. His poetry and prose have appeared in or are forthcoming in Paris Review, AGNI, Kenyon Review, NER, The Adroit Journal, and others. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford and winner of The Poetry Society of America’s 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and currently lives in Oakland, CA, where he teaches poetry at The Writing Salon.

More Story
Surviving the Abuses of Life in America I write this from exile. I write to you from Trinidad and Tobago, the home my mother left behind when I was a child, betting...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.