Sunday, May 28, 2017

TV Test Pattern

It was the end
back when TV stations
shut off and went to bed
like the rest of the civilized world

I would watch till
the last of the late, late movies ended
till the flag waving star-spangled banner
or the poem having touched the hand of God

I looked on helpless
until my last companion turned away
posting a sign on the door
a test pattern of lines and numbers
commanded by determined Indian in a head dress

You knew it was the end
because after one last desperate
twist of the dial through thirteen UHF channels
there was desolation
and off you went to dream
under a blanket of white static.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Riding the Rails

Riding the 6pm Acela
from New York to Washington
under an overcast May sky
can be like living a life.

You emerge
from a dark tunnel
crawling through
open spaces
soon leaving them behind
picking up speed
moving into new scenes
until you’re traveling at 90 mph


Outside Philadelphia
worn out row houses
under tired skies
list like the hulks
of stranded boats
that once floated
on a vibrant ocean
long ago evaporated.

Neighborhood streets
still lead toward
decrepit brick factories
falling down
like abandoned temples
places that once promised
a new life
to someone’s immigrant
grandma and grandpa
remembered in family stories
after the generations moved on
but the houses remained
sunk on foundations
in neighborhoods
colored only by
brash graffiti
painted at night
and green sumac
black iron bridges
and chain link fences
over the decades
as silver trains blow by
on the hour
past dead stories of old lives
the travelers thinking
no life can happen here.


At the end of the ride
it comes to a full stop
under a dark shelter
and a black bed of ties
bound to the earth.