“Queens Boulevard Driftwood”


In my annual calender, on the page I started the poem were these two “bon mots:” “the truth broke my uniqueness” (3.22.7) and “My ability stand pain diminished” (4.2.7). I’m not sure why I wrote them down, who said them, or why they matter, but I’m digitalizing them.

I saw a huge chunk of wood in traffic on Queens Boulevard the other day and the traffic was slowly dissolving it. I though about it and I want ed to write a poem, and this is what I started last night as Erin (M) spoke.

“Queens Boulevard Driftwood”
A six foot block of 8” by 10”
Aged for a century deep in
A warehouse that held barrels of oil
That 2 floors down became pens

Flame de-industrialization
For cold steel replacement buildings:
To fill with pressboard furniture
Covered with white and birch veneer

The rubble of that factory
Trucked away thirty cubic
Yards at a time to a depot
Lashed to barges along the River

The illegal that packed the charred beam
In the 30 yard dumpster lashed loose
The blue plastic tarp containment
Disposable archeology

Too fast turn by stallion carting
Out flew bricks, rubble and plaster
The beam that held up 100 years
Of hard work and new things fell out

Wave after wave of traffic rolls
Over and over the charred cedar
Crumbling and shaving the wood cut
A century ago by dagos

Yellow, then red and green again
The pulsing of the traffic thuds
Over and over the charred cedar
Gnawing away on the old beam

Smoothing the remains of the tree
Felled so long ago in mountain woods
A century hidden in red brick
Supporting piece-work now done by

Dominicans and Poles and
Koreans and Fujianese
And Hondurans and Mexicans
With bleary eyed efficiency

When I see the board dissolving
Under the waves of rush hour tires
It smoothes along the rough grain grown
When Lincoln debated Douglass

The grain shows like the tree itself
Fell down in a cold mountain stream
And was worn away gently in
The most tranquil of rural deaths

Waves of cars on Queens Boulevard
Lap over the wetback hewn board
Eroding it like the bowsprit
Of a shipwrecked sail freighter

Made redundant by steel and steam
Wave after wave on the freezing verge
Wears away the tree cut down quick,
Casually, when Queens was built

By dawn there is only a smooth
Core, the size of a root, halo-ed
By splinters worn off, car after car
Queens Boulevard Driftwood

This poem, on reconsideration, reminds me of this shit.


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