Upstate New York Bridges

Lance: The Literary Review of Worcester AcademyOn Thursday I wrote a piece of poetry. I didn’t set out to, but when I looked at the string of statements I’d written, what I saw was a lot of filler words crammed around the relevant stuff. So I stripped it back and laid it out in lines.

Unless I’m messing about in haiku (and I don’t write real haiku, just little snippets in the correct meter), I don’t write a ton of poetry. I leave that to actual poets.

I did, though. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in scribbling pages of heavy-handed young-hearted poems in my youth. Journals of melodramatic wailings and blowsy imagery… I shudder.

I was on a nostalgia bender yesterday, paging through by my alma mater‘s literary magazine, when I found one I’m not entirely embarrassed by. And apparently I’ve a wild yen to share. After all, to quote Violet Crawley, “Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Upstate New York Bridges
July 24, 1994
originally published in Lance: The Literary Review of Worcester Academy, Volume 24, No. 1, 1995

On highways in upstate New York the bridges scream
Under the weight of every passing car
From Interstate 90 there are roads to get to
Copenhagen, Denmark, Utica, Syracuse, Rome,
Poland, Ithaca, and all towns in-between.
It’s amazing, the places you can go.
Listening to the echo of the engine rattle against
The guardrails as I roar through the gears
The Indigo Girls are playing in the tape deck, they’re
Singing about souls and love and fire
There’s bottled ice tea in a cooler in the back
With the dogs, and the college stickers are peeling
Off the rear window.
We count the cows by the roadside while the rust
Spreads on the car.
For no reason at all, I remember a night we spent
On the shores of the Erie Canal, listening to
The ships in the locks.
We had to go our separate ways
You started to feel old and you knew our dreams
Were impossible anyway
You’ve forgotten how to get from
Canajoharie to Schenectady.
I think it’s time I settled down.

5 thoughts on “Upstate New York Bridges

  1. awwwwwww.
    so melancholy, a youthful wish to settle down. stop that, young woman! no settling for you!
    i visited those locks many, many times growing up. i like this homage and relate to its geography.

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