Saturday, October 20, 2012

If You Are Waiting to Cross the Tracks, Wait to Do It for One Moment at Least after the First Train Is Gone

It was raining and gray from Kensington to Frostburg, blue sky from Frostburg to the Belmont/Guernsey County line in Ohio, increasing gray and windy to Zanesville, leaf-storm windy and rainy from Zanesville to Bamgier, pouring rain from Bamgier to Granville to Bamgier to Zanesville. Gorgeous. Typing this Saturday morning in the breakfast lounge of the Holiday Inn Express in Zanesville as is tradition now on these trips. Fox News was on the big screen, the morning clowns humping Mitt Romney. Everybody in the lounge groaned. The breakfast manager switched the TV to MSNBC. The morning clowns there played a clip of Bill Maher making fun of Romney's stiffness when kissing his wife after last debate, everyone in the lounge groaned. The hotel breakfast manager, an elderly gentleman whose pompadour matches in grandeur Herbie Haft (google Herbert Haft; for back-story ask Hamster), turned to everyone and said, I can't wait for this shit to be over. People clapped, hooted. Hey, we missed dying by three yards yesterday, a car struck by a truck on east 68 the first downhill out of Cumberland spun across the median, I swerved at the last moment, the car smashed into the car right behind me, stopped a car doing 65 flat. I called 911 and continued west. Songs from yesterday's soundtrack.


Kenneth Koch

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line--
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,
If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other
As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide
The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another
On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe;
One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia
     Antica one tomb
May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide another,
One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another--one colonial may hide another,
One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One bath
     may hide another bath
As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple
Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein
One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the laboratory
One invention may hide another invention,
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple--this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides
Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in
A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag
Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by
     the mother's
And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker
May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee
Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another love
     or the same love
As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers
The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts"
Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that"
And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In the
     Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass
So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where,
Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory
Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about,
The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading
    A Sentimental Journey look around
When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see
If it is standing there, it should be, stronger
And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore
May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk
May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and
One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs
Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at the
     foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher,
One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man
May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. It
     can be important
To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.


  1. You've had way too many brushes with vehicular madness.

    Composer anniversaries achieve more repackaged product from record labels.

    Link thanks!

  2. the first downhill out of Cumberland

    The downhills on I68, like the uphills, are pretty serious.

    I've been meaning to get back to West Va. for three weeks.

    Finally filled up the gas tank from my last trip. (I hadn't gotten in the car since coming back to Columbus a month ago...I can just make it on one tank from Berkeley Springs, with no stops.)

  3. Thanks for A Sky of Honey FULL, and everything else.

  4. This one didn't scare me (or happened and was over too fast) - I never thought I was going to die like I did that night on the Turnpike two summers ago driving home at midnight after abandoning Planet in Richmond Indiana @ Earlham for two weeks. Both incidents, though, involved motherfucking trucks pulling into lanes without looking (or, to be generous, without seeing). Let me take this moment to say from the bottom of my heart, too many of the truckers out there are motherfucking truckers.

  5. I'm still trying to figure out how all my uncles drove their big cars while seriously inebriated down those back roads in Belmont County. Did you see a lot of War on Coal signs too?