When The Sun Sets In The East
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Poems from 1984 to 1994. Samples follow -- Sample One: Glasses Two panes, fattened to correct my focus: a plastic truss across my eyes, bridged at my nose to make me see the world the way it really is: one day I may find a pair that work. Sample Two: The Breath of New Jersey I still know the breath of New Jersey, the tin-pan howl of Conrail freights that slash the air with warning strobes like machetes at the stalks of dark, then burst onto the Madison Street grade, each locomotive larger than the Foodtown and blacker than a spade in ink-lets of dust. Night sinks quickly in New Jersey, atop the wailing tractor-trailers swimming Turnpike, spastic, chilled to the frame, fighting up-stream like salmon to spawn their loads in Newark, Paterson, and Hackensack, stone cities gone ash in fields of weed that crust their factories like barnacles on a blue whale's snout. Look to the rivers of pitch for the detritus we spit out! 61 In New Jersey the leaves all wear a tired film of smoke, while new homes are jammed on back lawns and front lawns and side lawns of lots which were drawn for one original house. Acorns flock like marbles to curb stone gutters where dog turds cure, and cigarette butts turn to rust, while grayish rains sizzle clouds and storm whistles rooftops, 'This is New Jersey, leave it alone, leave us! You must!' On my ears I still sense the flush of the brook snake wash around the pines, where geese chase field mice that climb periwinkle to the banks. And the wind, the wind, the hollow wind, that crone, that harbor breath of voice that billows the panes and knocks storm windows to rattle New Jersey's children's dreams of when the snow grows thick and Bakelite kitchen radios screech, '1010 WINS News, 62 the following schools will be closed...' and old men tremble, scrape powder from their windshields, drop salt to their drives. By afternoon the white sheet of the lawn's gone grey, and the children don't see, and their mothers won't see, and their fathers can't see that there is death in New Jersey, where the Raritan, the Overpeck, and the Passaic are her veins opened up, left scabbed, mired and stained, where the sanitation trucks gnaw their trash each Thursday before dawn, then heave into Meadowlands' ponds. I hear the crack snap as a neighbor touches match to his piled leaves, and somehow with the rush of that smoke, the ache of that train, and the hymn of that wind, it's hard to forget a place like that.