This is an excerpt from Time Being, a book length prose poem, forthcoming from Quale Press, by Somerville writer Joseph Torra. Torra explained to me that he is influenced by the poet William Carlos Williams’ poetic philosophy of close observation and the use of The American Idiom. Here is a day in the life of the poet as he leaves his home on Oxford St. in Somerville and goes to UMass Boston to his teaching gig.
I think the good doctor Williams was right when he wrote that it’s the hours we keep to see things makes all the difference down Oxford Street Michael’s car still in driveway past gossipy Cathy who’s got some passerby caught in her grip while Britney the bulldog wrestles with a rubber ball and the garbage truck’s got traffic stuck the men toss bags and barrels driver beeps the horn behind me until the garbage man waves us around and I saw the neighborhood kids rushing to the convenience store junk food for the day make it to school before the bell and the teachers with their heavy school bags oversize coffee cups and the Goth rock chick unlocking the porn store door on Mystic Ave. and the worn faces of day laborers huddled at Broadway and McGrath long slow line traffic onto the Expressway four lanes down to one onto the ramp flag flying high over the Schraff’s Building who knows the Expressway as I do knows Medford yields to Somerville along the Mystic River Somerville gives way to Cambridge west sprawl of scaffold construction new hotels and office buildings then to the east red clumsy three-decker and redbrick Charlestown hills Breeds and Bunker the battle at Breeds the monument on Bunker and the Mystic River Bridge reaching across the sky behind a jet departs Logan glint of sun Boston Stone and Gravel First and Finest and the masts of the U.S.S. Constitution steeple of the Old North Church above North End rooftops and the gulls hang in air pockets above the Zakim Bridge Boston Garden I will always call it and Spalding Rehabilitation my father’s dead eyes look up before the doctor closes them and pulls the sheet over old Hancock’s shadow on the new Hancock down into the tunnel and the three men in a white pickup truck fuck you out the window they think I cut them off end of tunnel big trucks rumble out into daylight pass Southie Mass. Ave. smokestacks the old Bickfords the Boston Globe building to Columbia Point and you tired students walking the long seaside walkway along white-capped Dorchester Bay in time we every one look up from under the sheet I mean to bring a poem to you a poem you will understand what good is it to me if you can’t understand it but you’ve got to try hard
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