On This Borrowed Bike


Lisa Panepinto ’05

Three Rooms Press, 2014


Rivers flow through the poems in Panepinto’s slim volume. They whisper of the Northwest, of young people who have jumped in, of silvery fish and poison in the water. In her first collection, the Spokane native writes with a deft lyricism and of a sense of place in poems like “river metallic as veins of saints”:

“the land creates
its inhabitants
here I am low
down bog like”

Her other poems speak of Spokane and rural roads, and music festivals and blues in bars. Her sparse lines draw the landscape, filled with people facing poverty and violence, but also seeking love and knowledge of the sublime.

While sadness runs through Panepinto’s poems, joy and reflection surface in her conversations with crows and in her memories of people who have died. The title poem, a surreal ride on a dead teenager’s bicycle, carries her into a world filled with life. Even a simple bus ride transports the reader on a wave of words.

“the wind lifts
the dumpster lid
and the water crashes
over the dam
the wind lifts
my hood & turns my down
jacket into puffy
wing feathers”

from “getting on the bus”

In addition to working as a poet and writer, Panepinto is a radio host and performer in Pittsburgh.