Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Poem by Peter Grieco

Winter woods by rail
freights blinking by in a blur—
each type of car has a name
like gondola—some strangely
invisible, each particular one
has a number. Sleepy, cheesy
atmosphere like sauerkraut.
Tangled scrub of twigs, quarry
faces. Waves of cattail.
Empty factory hulks. The house
on the hill keeps changing.
Winter woods by rail
& the fur trees sing green.
Great piles of abandoned ties
acres of scrap metal, proud
owl resting atop a forgotten
pier pole, Onondaga Lake.
College kids mixing talk inside
the café car, sunk
into the wild wetlands
& fur trees sing green
in the watery sun. The ravine
that snakes its slope
down to the track bed
serves as unofficial dump
collecting the ageless debris
of Schenectady. Until I saw wink
by a woman in a blue coat
leaning on a white log, letting
her handsome red dog run
loose across the marsh. Duck blinds
along the Hudson are visible enough—
ahead of a closely packed
shanty town of dock-side shacks
paradise of fishers &
fowlers. They remind me
of lazy tea house terraces
shouldering ferry stops up&
down the Bosphorus. Nothing tops
the entrance to Istanbul—after
the night train from Ankara, you
descend at Hadarapasa, slip
lira into the ferry turnstile& cross
to the Golden Horn—small boys’ dream
of a bathtub full of boats—gulls
calling, Haiga Sofia floating above
mist, out of the tobacco stained
morning, staggering off into crowds
at the Galata docks. It’ll be dark
before we reach New York.
The house on the hill keeps
changing. Winter fields have melted
the mists that rise settle
in thick white dust blown down
over the cement works. The river
gleams like milk just below
the prison. A moment ago I
felt pleased with my life. It’s hard
to say why—something I was
reading—something about trains.
Soon, it’s the lights of Yonkers—
where the lady across the aisle
wants to stop, but the train doesn’t.
She’ll have to get off at Penn
& double back somehow—
by way of the Divan Yolu, maybe
though here they call it Broadway.
The author is a Ph.D graduate of SUNY Buffalo where he wrote his dissertation on working-class poetry. A former school bus driver, he has taught at universities in Ankara, Turkey; Seoul, South Korea; and Buffalo, NY, his native city where he studies French and is finishing his degree in Mathematics Education. Publications include At the Musarium, a chapbook of semi-procedural verse based on word frequency lists.

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