Progress, Embarrassment and Poetry

Great, a P.E.P. talk.

I haven’t written a good, solid poem (first draft, of course) in literally months. I get that way: in going over my record of about 550 poems (the edited, “finished” ones, not drafts or juvenalia) I’ve had gaps of over a year at some points. This seven month gap is the longest  in at least fifteen years. The draft isn’t ready for sharing, but was triggered, the day a car was rammed by a local commuter train, by the smell of creosote warming in the 90+ degree sun off the railroad ties at a train station.

Smells are said to be our strongest memory joggers. What’s irritating to me is that they job the fact that I have a memory, but I can’t remember why that smell is a trigger to remember something. Ah, the joys of incipient senior moments. The creosote was a pervasive smell where I hung out in Riverdale, down past the “jungle,” by the train tracks on the banks of the Hudson River near the NYC/Yonkers border. It was a great place for me to be daring, standing close to the trains as they whipped by: cargo, commuter, passenger… and sometimes the repair trains with their cranes. I remember when they built an overpass so people wouldn’t have to cross the tracks directly. And I remember walking over a tiny, rusted footbridge that was the only way across before it was replaced. I can’t imagine letting my kids go off and do that. And I guess I shouldn’t wonder what my kids have been doing while I haven’t been hovering overhead.

More anon. Sleep, perchance a deep dream, tonight.