Jean Hollander

On the Bus to New York,
by Jean Hollander

A passing truck declares and pleads in script
on dirt-splashed steel PLEASE WASH ME PLEASE.
The plane on the sparse green is standing still,
as freight trains wait the dictates of the station past
or what’s to be, while distant toy trains underscore
the need for home, their windows glistening
with tears. Arrows argue in all directions, offering
opposing exits and remain in stubborn mutiny
whether to end it all or drag it on. Poles bend
to wired brains. Rainwater strays into canals, drains
into calm. Some loading platforms, buildings, wait
with gate lids shut on shattered light
till dawn, when eager trucks will prowl again.

Now day is late, the rain has ceased, and sunset
lazily puts on a threadbare dressing gown and drapes
it over some few swamp-dead trees. Over here
a church and there a mosque rotate winged roofs
until a greyhound bus reflects me in its unlit black–
if they are staring back at me, am I as dark
as they are dark invisible to me? It’s time to go
to this Day’s Inn: jacuzzi, mirror rooms, free
parking, wireless and internet, the rest is
on your own– a black rag dances on a twig–
and Toys R Us as R our hopes and fears–
the car that cuts into our lane, the night that thrusts
into our glaze of days, the EZ pass lures on–

to highways going every way, red lights in front
and white lights coming on, and will it all
be worth it, the timing and the happy start,
the dreaming and the lurching stop–
our black shapes entering the dark, we are in light,
the Lincoln Tunnel’s black is lit all day and night,
it knows no sun or dark, as D. H. Lawrence, dying
grabbed at life, and caught it, wrung from it–
it was the last thing that he wrote
it was the last thing that he thought
the joy of it, the joy of it

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.

Jean HollanderJean Hollander’s first book of poems, Crushed into Honey, won the Eileen W. Barnes Award. Her second collection was a winner in the QRL Poetry Book Series. Her verse translations of Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and Paradisewere published by Doubleday.

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Jean Hollander’s first book of poems, Crushed into Honey, won the Eileen W. Barnes Award. Her second collection was a winner in the QRL Poetry Book Series. Her verse translations of Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise were published by Doubleday.