Poems on Pittsburgh's Air Sean Russell

"She doesn't want the little kid that's in her care breathing this air. " [ in reference to poor air quality days]- KM

“Stay inside please”

The air quality index was too high

Not safe for kids to play outside

Not safe for anyone’s health

Not even safe for plants to grow

On the other hand, the cloudless day paved the way for hot weather

Beauty can be destructive...

Fitting for a summer day

The pool’s begged for visitors

The park’s beckoned runners

The ice cream stands called for those craving a delicious treat

One day-care stood right out in the glistening sun

The kids huddled close to the window

Watching other children run around

Watching people eat ice cream

Watching them all have a joyous time

"Everyone else was free of the constraints"

Try as she might, the teacher couldn’t find anything to divert their attention

The board games could only go so far

The card games were just a temporary distraction

And the kids’ thoughts were focused on another place

For they wanted to be out there

Playing hopscotch

Jumping rope

All the fun things that come with being outdoors!

the playground looked so lonely

And was feeling betrayed from the lack of playtime

Plus, the sun would only shine for so long

But, the teacher had noticed the AQI

The kids would suffer if they went outside

She couldn’t chance the possibility

Couldn’t risk the exposure

Couldn’t morally allow herself to do it

And instead called them over one more time

But the kids’ curiosity grew, entranced by the events taking place

They didn’t understand why they couldn’t be out there

Everyone else was free of the constraints

The woman stood there frowning

Dumb-founded by her lack of options

Until an idea formed in her mind

She put on a video about air pollution,

Drawing their interest and leading them over,

It was a shame for the kids to be trapped inside,

But at least they would learn what was causing it!

Website that tells one their AQI in their area area: https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/pittsburgh/15219/air-quality-index/1310
"When the air quality is bad he has to cancel his runs"- KM


I’m a newcomer from Baltimore

Can’t say I didn’t love it there

But new times call for new beginnings

And this was meant to kickstart the new me

Now, don’t get me wrong

Pittsburgh is a wonderful place

The people here are amiable

And I love the beautiful lakes

Oh, and the scenery? Yeah that’s great

As a health advocate, I ran plenty in Baltimore

All throughout the roads

All throughout the city

All throughout my neighborhood

And being here looked the part

The first few runs went swell

The wind kissed my shoulders

The ground hugged my feet

Mother nature treated me like a son

But since then, something has been afoot

So do listen as I describe my latest run

The beginning, per usual, felt so free

Like I was a bird going where I pleased

Like a traveler exploring the world,

I felt like I could go anywhere and everywhere

Until the air began to scratch my lungs

‘that's okay’ I had thought as it had happened before

But the clawing persisted

The pain upped a notch

The Sahara desert had made its way into my throat!

Maybe mother nature no longer wanted my presence

As the ample air she usually provided was replaced with small pinches

And I couldn’t down enough

Feeling fatigued, I had stood there unmoving

Still confident I’d be able to finish my run

I started the run once more

The wind hugged me for the first few moments

So peaceful and loved I had felt

Until the poison set in once more

The same thing was occurring again

Safe to say Mother Nature was no longer my friend

I cut the run short, thinking I’d try again sometime later

Since then, the same thing happens over and over

Like a video stuck on the loop, the event keeps playing out

I have no issues running inside

On the treadmill, stuck at a gym

But it’s my only option

As one thing is for sure,

I can’t run out there!

In reference to Ozone pollution in Pittsburgh
A bigger super power is controlling them


Stop what you’re doing

Don’t come any closer

Or you’ll regret what will take place

Instead, listen as I tell you a story

This isn't a campfire myth but

Take out your popcorn

Take out your smores

And listen to my words

It all started with greed

Cash. Cash. And more cash

Oh, and did I forget to say power?

Jobs were provided and money was made

The problem with that is something was unleashed.

Its chemical nature made it impossible to contain

Shrouding the city in smog

and Covering the city in shame

Progress has been made since

Yet, the old beast still thrives

Don't you hear it breathing behind you?

Don’t you see it in front of you?

Don’t you sense it all around you?

Of course, you don’t

That’s why you must listen to me

Believe it or not, there’s something in your neighborhood

So atrocious it would scare the grim reaper away

So terrible it harms all the trees

So horrendous no one should live here

There’s only so much time before it gets you, too

Leave when you get the chance...

I hope you heed my warning

For I am the monster I speak about

The blue blimp represents McConway and Torley Foundry via toxicten.org
A look into what McConway does

Air that is swept in from place to place through industrial pollution


Breathe in

Breathe out

So natural

So deadly

The invisible particles invade,

Minuscule but their affects are monumental.


Breathe in

Breathe out

That’s one breath closer

To the inevitable closure.

As though it were an experienced boxer,

It dupes the cells into launching a strike

But “swoosh”

The cells hit nothing but air

Breathe in

Breathe out

The attack has set in.

The enemy waits

Continuing to deceive

As the body self-destructs

Breathe in

Breathe out

Suddenly a spike

Uh oh!

The concealed polluter has ambushed its target.

The water the man was drinking crashes to the floor

And so too does he.

His wife screams nearby

Breathe in

Breathe out

Darkness falls upon he

Until a defibrillator brings him back to life

The hospitals white lights shine bright into his eyes.

His heart rate returns to normal.

Three days later he goes home.

Breathe in

Breathe out

The man, now home, is filled with relief.

He breathes a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of air...

The pollutants never left.

.For they are in his home

And they are still in his body.

Next time, he won’t be so lucky.

it's already inside

Bonus Poem

“Asthma Attack”

His feet glided as he ran to the soccer ball

The ball glistened like sparkling ice

And it leapt to the sky at the force of his kick

Surprising the birds so they quickly ascended

Catching the goalie off-guard too

Just out of grasp, so a goal was scored

It was such a marvelous site

On the other hand, the boy leapt too, but in the opposite direction

His momentum had suddenly seized as if he had ran into a wall.

Was he simply drained of energy?

The screams of help told otherwise.

911 was called as the boy struggled to breathe

All the while, the sun shined so bright

Magnificent golden light

Who would’ve know that was the cause of it

For the extra heat only made the exposure worse

The ambulance arrived and the boy was carted off

He would survive, but the ordeal would persist

Asthma attacks were a common theme in this region

I hope you enjoyed this!

Below is a link to a document that will provide beneficial actions one can do!


Side Note:

Not every link is clickable, so I've included a document with all of sources available below


Created By
Sean Russell


Created with images by 14957140 - "stadium pittsburgh penn" • tomekwalecki - "icecream dessert chocolate" • GoranH - "empty swing depopulation migration" • pittsburghbeautiful - "pittsburgh bridges architecture" • sasint - "achieve woman girl" • Septimiu - "puppet political cage" • Tumisu - "money eye dollar" • MichaelGaida - "lost places old decay" • KELLEPICS - "fantasy spirit nightmare" • PublicDomainArchive - "soccer sports football" • ChaosSoccerGear - "soccer soccer ball soccerball" • pixel2013 - "sunset windräder environmental technology" • TBIT - "alarm light siren" • TanteTati - "end list note"