Tuesday, April 19, 2016


There are, or always have been
for me, certain things that bespeak
home and place. Nothing to be
argued with, and no matter where
you go, they're always there, still
present, in the back of your mind.
Just today, as happens often, at
about 6:38, returning along Rahway
Avenue from the Sewaren Waterfront
dog run, I caught the freight that
passes. It's usually at least 85 or
so cars, and probably takes 8 to 10
minutes. These are the same tracks
I got creamed at, going the same
direction to, in 1958. It's a funny
feeling for me, but nothing bad. 
My mind enjoys it. By the way, I
don't mean I 'caught' it, as a hobo
used to catch trains, I mean at the
grade-crossing it stopped traffic.
I sat there, just watching and 
thinking  - the names on the 
boxcars and the names on some 
of the tanker cars, the mysterious 
unmarked black ones. The clackety-
clack of that old, slow, cliched
American country sound, the bell
clank and the flashing lights and
the barrier arms of the crossing. To
me it was, and is, mostly always,
the most relaxing and faraway
span of old time that I experience.
many others, in their cars, get all 
perturbed, make u-turns and just
get out of there, sometimes even
honking their horn. I never know
why  -   yeah, nice seeing you, too,
goodbye. This period of my life 
now is all leftovers. I can sit there, 
in a situation like that, and just 
cast aside everything. I don't
even know any more why 
anyone would even have a 
concern about time, or their
patience being tried. Or their
'wasting' it, by sitting in such 
a line of waiting. It's a pretty
lame crutch, if you ask me, 
needing to continually fall back
upon the 'useless-active', which
is the word-tense I give to the 
things that most people do. 
Living erratically to stay smooth  
-  getting that time and that 
breakfast, lunch or dinner, like 
it mattered. God forbid to lose
4 minutes in a timeless train-warp
of reality, where there's nothing to
suck on or chew. This train-crossing
is like old prairie-time, awaiting a
funnel cloud to come and mess 
things up again. I'm proud to sit
there with myself.
There used to be, right there, 
the old Avenel Coal and Oil 
yard  -  train siding, coal-car 
drop-offs, then, later, heating- 
oil tankers, and all the rest. It 
was a large, old, white house
with a big yard and then a
business yard all around that  
-  heaps of coal and supplies, 
tanks and trucks, and the road. 
Next to it, the big, old, golf 
driving range, with its 20 or
so golf-stalls and one or two 
of the ex-professionals on 
hand as 'golf-pros'  -  for
whatever reason critiquing
one's golf swing and approach, 
and judging your drive and
your over-swing and follow-
through. Funny stuff. These
driving ranges were where 
you were supposed to go, if 
you were a golfer, between 
tee-times and golf dates  - to
keep your game sweet and keep
things in order. They had this
little screen-protected open Jeep
riding around out there collecting
the gold balls and bringing them 
back in by the bucketful. I guess
if nothing else, if gave the guys
a target-distance to try and hit.
That stuff is all gone now, my
memory alone. Everything 
around, except the trailer court 
nearby, has been replaced by 
condos or apartments, or 
however they call or sell 
those things now. They're all
soullessly built and stretched out
all across these fields, even over
in the swamps about a mile off. It's
a mess - everything uniform, and
the same finish and roofings and 
things. No one really seems to care,
and anyway they all seem lost in 
space. The condo-people seem 
to come and go, into and out of
traffic, oblivious to cause and 
effect. They've all come from
somewhere else, with their fine, 
2-year old cars, attractive people,
or, at the other extreme, fat, sloppy
poverty types, probably living 
here on alimony or some sort 
of assistance. I'd bet probably
there's not a bookshelf in their
entire living quarters, one with 
books on it anyway. They have no
idea of the history here, the sense 
of Rahway Avenue, all that running 
down and echoing past patterns of 
living. And they don't care. Berkeley 
School or Kean College, for them 
either will do. They probably both
call themselves 'University' by now.
I love it the most when those kinds of
schools take over an old supermarket or
something, like Berkeley School right
down the street here to Woodbridge.
In the 'Frozen Smarts' section, aisle 9.
When I was a kid that was 'Finast'
Supermarket  -  small-scale, low-key, 
with a parking lot of its own! The name 
name from 'First National Stores'. High
school kids working there, the girls 
anyway  -  we called it 'Fine Ass'.
Well, anyway, that's the way it all
goes down here. Throw the shit onto
the tracks and forget about it. As I 
said when I started this chapter out, 
there's nothing more precious or 
homey to me than living amidst 
all this throwback: Time is fine, like
a silken fabric, drooped down, in a
silence and a beauty of a magic 
and timeless space. But that
doesn't 'exist'; you have
to make it.

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