Month: June 2017

Metro North Haibun*

New Haven line red trains


(* Haibun: “… literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiographydiaryessayprose poemshort story and travel journal.” From Wikipedia.)

Metro North, bent old father of the tired rail lines that run out of NYC’s Grand Central Terminal and climb the Hill of Long Forgotten Dreams into Harlem — its trains take world-gathering riders to points north — along the Hudson River, through central Westchester, and along the coast of the Sound into Connecticut. It is quite unlike the raucous Long Island Railroad across town, which like an old horse, teeth exposed, has to endure so many more Italian-Americans on its weary cars. The northern train, though — that is a place for old poets, offering rich quiet and contemplation. And when we journey the other way, leaving home to enter the bustling city, more giant and frightening than Edo, Grand Central stands waiting like Mt Tsukuba, or Fuji, the place at the end of roads, the floating world waiting at the Gateless Gate. I cannot keep my ancient legs in my windswept home, I must travel there, without provisions or plans. Plus, I have a doctor’s appointment.

Summer at Grand Central
That new deli might be good
But no — no, it sucks.

I walk in the city, marveling at the beauty of the people and their hungry faces.  I have planned well and am early at the doctor’s office. I noticed along the way at one establishment they serve a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches — but no eating before the blood work! I will come back later, and have the grilled gouda and mushrooms on sourdough.  And I do this, after my probings; and then, lunch-satedk, I walk to the wide way. All this for tourists! Stephen Colbert! Nine NYC tee-shirts for $50!

Once Letterman had
our keeper kick roof to roof
Across the broad way

They stop’d the traffic and held
back the people — boom it!

One arrives back to the terminal shaking the dust of Lexington Avenue from one’s pant legs, having just missed one’s train. Everywhere are teenage tourists and their parents, with looks of wonder on their faces. I am seeking a deeper fulfillment:

Train in half an hour,
a warm day, you might buy books —
look! Posman’s is gone

(Warby fucking Parker now?
Who buys glasses waiting for a train?)

Coming home, always an inevitable sadness: especially after the prostate exam under the wintry fluorescent lights. Old men are offered the vaccine for shingles: a first for me. If I am going to test the insurance company’s largesse, I tell my cheerful doctor, I think we should  go for the chlamydia / gonorrhea test instead, just to be on the safe side. She, who writes the scripts for the Cialis, agrees: shingles demand no stressful explanations she says. My blood pressure is beautiful. So is my heartrate. Plus I’ve lost 16 pounds. I will go home as if again a colt, bucking under the saddle!

The suit’d man riding
Summer Friday’s early train
listens to his phone

I returned to the dead streets and abandoned gardens of my town, which is a pointless place even the most ardent travelers wouldn’t wish to walk through. The staff I use for wandering on old limbs in the city is here a convenient instrument for hailing a cab.  At home, I put some yogurt and cherries into a bowl.

Long long days of June —
they dim, then close like flowers,
and what have I done?