Friday, October 23, 2009

The Second Street Stop

My picture of autumn coming to Hoboken prompted a question from Italian Connie, who grew up in Hoboken in the 1950's and now lives in Florida. She hadn't heard about the New Jersey Light Rail train, with its stops at Hoboken Terminal, Second St. and Ninth St. That's it above, over on the tracks right against the cliff at Hoboken's west border.
I've found the little trains very convenient to my new home. Smooth, sleek and clean, they seem to take no time to reach their destinations. In pleasant weather, when one is not in a particular hurry it's possible actually to enjoy the wait before a train arrives to spirit you to the Pavonia Newport Mall in Jersey City or the 12-minute ride to the Hoboken terminal to get to a PATH train to the city.

Passing time in my wait, I have noticed etched in the glass blocks, little snippets of poetry. One day in a rather long wait I read the whole wall, all of a piece, and discovered it was commissioned as a public poetry project by the New Jersey Transit Commission's arts committee. It was written by Marina Temkina, and is available in a book published by Ugly Duckling Press.

Reading the poem while waiting for a train on a beautiful day is a soothing experience, rather like absorbing the affirmations you write to yourself, or reading love notes from a new partner. I'm pleased to live where something like this just seems to appear, for no reason other than to brighten my day.

I hope it does the same for yours.

You Are My Solar Battery

Are you waiting for a train?
Take a minute-long vacation

You’re a part of the solar system
Recharge your batteries

You are a part of the universe
Of people navigating the earth

Sun makes us global
Planets and people commute

Look at the stars
They don’t have

In a spaceship you’re about to get in
Look up at earth
People are your constellations

The time’s coming when somebody over there,
In the universe, will be looking at you

What is the position of the planet earth
When the Milky Way is parallel
To the Hudson River?

When coming and leaving
Notice this poem moving down the track
To greet you

The old moon
The new moon
The growing moon
The half-moon
Commuting moon

Are you a local traveler? Global? Local? Universal?
A dream traveler?—me too

I am one of you: speeding in life,
Sometimes wishing to stop, to change,
To go on slowly

Sky, the shrine of all faiths,
Meditates on peace and love,
On your heavenly body

Commuting between lines of this poem
Sometimes takes a long time

You’re at the Second Street stop,
Between the hill and the river,
Under the stars’ scattered sugar

My desires, like stars,
Are big and small

You’re my solar battery
You’re my sugar cloud
You’re my living psalm

You’re my rising sun
You’re my green tree
You’re my country

You’re my snow, my rain,
You’re my train,
My early morning, my long day

The punctuation (and lack of it), the choice of images, the gentle rhythms of this poem seem to take us on a ride, help us through the stress of everyday business--and promise a nice trip. I like it.


Italian Connie said...

Wow, I am amazed at the changes that have taken place in Hoboken since we left in 1971. The train ride must be interesting and the poem is beautiful and certainly occupies the time during your ride. Jim knew about the train and its whereabouts especially since he was an Erie/Lackawanna RR employee before we left.

As I told you when we met last month, I am speechless when I see the changes especially to the areas where I grew up. I would have never believed it unless I saw it myself.

Unknown said...

How nice to find poetry in a place so unexpected. What a wonderful blue sky that day too,how beautiful Autumn can be!

Mary Lois said...

The picture of that glass-block wall makes an excellent computer-screen wallpaper too.