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   m o v e m e n t,    a c c e l e r a t i o n

--- N A T E   C H I N E N

a. Trenton
 	nothing to hold.
 	nowhere to go.
 	this is Trenton --
 	on the platform,
 	a father smokes
 	with his two 
 	teenage daughters, 
 	both girls trying not
 	to look impossibly young -- 
 	heavy Eagles jackets,
 	silver hoop earrings,
 	ponytails peeking through
 	matching baseball caps.
 	In Trenton, Christmas 
 	has come and gone.  snow
 	sits heavy over this city -- 
 	rowhouses and water towers
 	flash by, gaunt and awkward.
 	we lurch forward.
 	the tracks stretch on 
 	this way for miles.  
b. Bristol
 			= quiet
 		dull metal scraps jut
 		from the snow like scabs
 		a blank high school football field
 		  a penitentiary
 		the Grundy Industrial & 
 		Office Complex stretches
 		like Babel into the ashen sky
 		at the post office, 
 		an american flag hangs, 
 		tattered, from its pole
 		       Go to Northeast Lincoln Mercury.			
c. Croyden
 	the train kicks up snowpuff and the sun emerges, cold and
 	dizzyingly bright. on the cracked wooden platform, one patient
 	woman, icecaked boots and the Zober Development Co. smokestacks
 	coughing soot that settles quiltlike over the drifts. I am trying
 	to make this a beautiful thing, the woman and her layers. She will
 	be old soon and I can't picture her nursing a child -- I can't
 	imagine that she has made love, I feel as if she has always stood
 	in that exact spot: the black soot boots, the orange coatbundle
 	hung on her frame and even this is lovely, I tell myself. 
 	In a flash, gone
d. Eddington station doesn't even have a sign.
e. Torresdale
 		I like the snow 
 		on the roofs 
 		of houses 
 		in Torresdale.  
f. Holmesburg
this is the last stop
before bridesburg

and soon philadelphia
and soon ph

not much changes
an area code, a few

tax laws perhaps
a school board


rowhouses and water towers
and: Howard County

wants you to have
a nice day

How different
things gain

momentum if
we only let

sinks into the mush
and a dozen people

climb aboard
the buried weeds

rise ever so slightly
a photographic still

life i have already

rust seeping from
a bridge into a frozen

river? ice gripping
the metal? (things

i wrote as i saw them
at the time, months ago)

How different
this poem

would have been if
i had sat on the other

© crossconnect 1995-1998 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania kelly writers house |