The bar in the commuter stationThe Title: "The Northeast Corridor" In his book The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye (2007), Revell called it “a title taken from newspeak and describing that cindery ganglion of railways between Boston to the north and D.C. to the southern end.” The term is used today by Amtrak. steams
like a ruin, its fourth wall open
to the crowd and the fluttering timetables.
In the farthest corner, the television
crackles a torch songtorch song A sad or sentimental love song and a beaded gown.
She is my favorite singer, dead when I was born.
And I have been waiting for hours for a train,
exhausted between connections to small cities,
awake only in my eyes finding shelter
in the fluttering ribbon of shadow
around the dead woman singing on the screen.
Exhaustion is a last line of defense
where time either stops dead or kills you.
It teaches you to see what your eyes see
without questions, without the politics
of living in one city, dying in another.
How badly I would like to sleep now
in the shadows beside real things or beside
things that were real once, like the beaded gown
on the television, like the debut
of a song in New York in black and white
when my parents were there. I feel sometimes
my life was used up before I was born.
My eyes searsear To burn, to whither, or to dry up backwards into my head
to the makeshift of what I have already seen
or heard described or dreamed about, too weary
not to envy the world its useless outlines.
Books of photographs of New York in the forties.
The dark rhombusrhombus A four-sided shape, like a parallelogram. The window is shaped like a diamond on its side. See Wikipedia.
of a window of a train
rushing past my train. The dark halo
around the body of a woman I love
from something much farther than a distance.
The world is insatiable. It takes your legs offIt takes your legs off Donald Revell wrote in his book The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye (2007), “One of my favorite euphemisms is ‘legless,’ meaning drunk” ,
it takes your arms and parades in front of you
such wonderful things, such pictures of warm houses
trellisedtrellised An architectural term, meaning enclosed or supported. In many cases, a trellis is a kind of open latticework on which vines can grow. along the sides with green so deep
it is like black air, only transparent,
of women singing, of trains of lithiumtrains of lithium Lithium (lithium carbonate) has been used as a psychiatric medication to treat bipolar disorder and manic depression. A play on “train of thought”; as the third lightest element, “lithium” may be used to describe a lightness or airiness, complementing “transparent.”
on the awakening body of a landscape
or across the backdrop of an old city
steaming and high-shouldered as the nineteen-forties.
The world exhaustsexhausts Used here in both senses: to tire and to expel exhaust everything except my eyes
because it is a long walk to the world
begun before I was born. In the far corner
the dead woman bows off stage. The television
crumples into a white dotcrumples into a white dot Older tube televisions, when turned off, would have its picture quickly dissolve into a small white dot in the center of the screen as the last
train of the evening, my train, is announced.
I lived in one place. I want to die in another.