Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nostalgia for Newark

[here is a relatively new poem (i.e. in drafts for a few years) forthcoming in an NJ anthology. wrote this when i lived in CO.

most of the line-spacing has disappeared here, but you can get the rough idea anyway here....]




Nostalgia for Newark



off the plane it hits you stark as the plains:
you’ve landed in the new-
ark of one of every kind of human on earth

even at 5 a.m. after flying across the West

the Afro-Carrib, Afro-Am, Latina/Latino, Indian, Asian
Black-Jewish-Italian Token Mutt

now i have to sober up
harsh coffee under the influence of
great lakes of lights of east coast cities
torching horizon to horizon
in predawn-dusk

touch down i skid out of a dream

the 6 a.m. terminal’s hordes

clog the rail link station

a post-industrial-battleship-gray hole

with a London-in-the-blitz feel

of brown grays, light grays and the darkened
yellow warning strip that grips your soles
with vulcanized
crisscross dots rubbed past faded


dazed still from 0.5 hrs sleep on the shuttle to DEN
3+ hours midair
(2+ hours awaiting the train to PHL)

the 777-sized diner in Newark International
lavish smells eggs sausage grease coffee urns treats

and what have I learned from five years in the West
aside from what cowboys are
is that I have missed the eastern seaboard
in entirety


even its crossing x-shaped I-bars under great compressor tubes

its scuffed aluminum doors

its brushed metal graffitoed waiting rooms

its narrow escalators/descalators of grime

its strings of jets hovering above the NJT taking turns to land

its landing jets racing cars along the NJT

its congregated seagulls on corrugated steel
rooftops slanted refracting early morning sun

its ocean-heavy winds

this deciduous forest down the line to Metro Park

I must be an acrobat to talk like this and act like that

bracing gales of—

back in the world so briefly
far from high deserts of TARGET microdunes
WALMART tumbleweeds CONAGRA-pesticidal air
the treeless brown of grasslands and cows

if the word for world was forest once
I am back in the wold
so many shades of bark, brush and dark umber
branches scritch their words into sky

these prolific red/orange ochre leaves of autumn

papery-as-dust confetti-ing siding rails

the iced over lakes black glass block buildings

the sudden Raritan River running by Rutgers, New Brunswick
its bright orange brick faces aglow in sun
its white clock tower amid tall trees

i’m halfway home—

3 comments:

Jeremy said...

I remember the airport when it was still a single building, when we lived in Milburn, circa 52 or 53, standing on the deck seeing my father off for White Sands, NM, him consulting for Bell on the Nike missiles. Newark was still a distinct city then. You passed its reservoir on 22. I watched it burn as I went into NY in 67, I think, with a strange impassivity. The whole area was downside. But, at that time, Secaucus, up the line on the 'NJT', with its pig farms, swamps and tire farms, dumps and auto graveyards was the grey field and eerie eyes of Dr. whatsisname from the Jersey side, as you came into NY.

My left coast homecoming epiphany was after rain puddles in Kansas with lightning on the horizon, as I hitchhiked home from SF in 73. Two season California is just not enough.

The poem gets it all pretty well, the NY desolation belt and its strange seduction, the eastern mixed hardwoods; but most of all the feelings.

jeffrey ethan lee said...

Thanks for writing.

Connie said...

I like your poem, reminds me of the way I felt when I first moved out west... I missed the city terribly, went back, hated the city, moved back West... missed the city. Love your images. I bookmarked your blog... for inspiration.