Ode to Northern New Jersey
Along the turnpike, refineries, gas tanks with spiral stairs cases, poles jutting from sludge ponds, landfills that
exit to scarred palisades, leaning luxury towers, asbestos shingled row houses, brownstones,
two-family boxes with balconies and brown brick buildings with bomb shelter signs and
bolted Helvetica placards that warn NO sitting, standing, soliciting, ball playing.
Ramps to rutted roads where dump trucks with tarps that blow like the American flag spit pebbles at windshields and pass
a pure white egret in a marsh
who with each swallow shortens his life
in the shadow of cop cars
stalking under train trestles for people of color.
Among mayors who triple dip in jobs, who teach, coach, seduce and stumble in drunken brawls.
Who appoint presidents to boards with spit on their chin and atrophied minds and the power to anoint them as mayor,
who rely on committee people, neighborhood Gestapo who sell fund raiser tickets and steal time
to get out the vote for senators with cufflink collections and blind ambitions
who appropriate funds for buildings with commemorative plaques dedicated
to officials who dole out jobs to those who get out the vote, who vote early and often,
who get votes from the dead and the absent,
from seniors bussed after spaghetti dinners
from project folk for ten dollars disguised as cab fair.
Machines that can win a state for men who would rule the nation and the world while
town councils divvy out tax breaks to developers who return favors in cash,
for the rights to twenty first century gated communities,
over superfund sites covered by golf courses with six figure memberships and Scottish pretensions and
rear views of the statue of liberty that
sustain jobs for past their prime dig-mes who wear their grey hair like and
eat at restaurants where twin televisions suspended over the bar run ponies alongside jeopardy and
framed pictures of that show hang by a fake ficus in the entrance like a clean health report.
Local haunts where they never sit with their back to the entrance
and concentrate on specials recited by a waitress whose bells palsy has sculpted a beautifully deformed smile,
who plunks down grated cheese with the salad and serves appetizers to the wife
he met at the jersey shore on twenty years ago.
And she sits alone legs crossed fingering her ankle bracelet while he schmoozes with his buddies from the board of ed
sucking down pinot to look suave, assassinating characters and plotting who they can devour next like osso bucco while
she studies her French manicure till he returns and shoves a calamari rubber band into the hot sauce and
gets a spot on the pumas his spoiled son gave him for ,
curses and taps to the sounds of Frank that emanate from the walls like a phantom.
After a couple of shots of sambuca he heads home to a split built on earth from pig farms,
drops her and drives to his girlfriends past
thirty movie screens and slinky style parking lots and a zillion feet of commercial lease space on a postage piece of land.
Ten exits south, a zealous prosecutor takes three years, a ream of paper and two mil to determine that
something is not on the level.
And in his report with roman numerals and appendices he recommends a second committee to investigate
and the members will be selected by the people
who make deals with men more corrupt than the devil
and the egret dives among petrified trees and weeps.