08FEB2012 – Final leg home. Same great train, same flashing light occulting through the same naked trees, the source first born in the heart of a sustained nuclear explosion anchored 92,935,700 miles off our starboard bow.
Landed in Groton, Conn., yesterday afternoon on the shortest of runways, our gear strapped to the cargo deck of the tail so the crew wouldn’t have to kill the engines. The doors opened on empty tarmac; a stand of brown rushes greeted us with rustling uncertainty as a large blue pickup truck backed slowly into position to accept our various bags, packs and Pelican cases.
It was a joy to shout above the engines, feel the heat of the exhaust and see the heat rippling in the shadows. For a moment, I felt close to my father.
He’d been a crew chief in the peacetime Air Force, retiring after 20 years to make rock biters for the Jeffrey Mining Machine Company until they laid him off and he found himself unable to find anything better than a job as a security guard. If ever a man died of broken pride, it was he. He never really told me what he did in the military; when I was a child, he’d sometimes draw funny cartoons of uniformed men with flattop haircuts driving around in old Jeeps, and he mentioned on occasion that he’d been to the Philippines and Germany. He tried to pass on his understanding engines but I was never ready.
Staring out the window of a moving train is a great way to clear your head. Upright wooden lungs stand watch over the rocks and squirrels, accepting my projections and quiet contemplations in mute understanding. You can say anything to a tree; there is no expectation of reciprocation and no consulting fee will be discussed.
During my three hours on this moving couch, I will think back on the past and imagine the future; wonder at the nature of love, question where it all went sideways and further speculate as to where the brightest days and minutes might have gone — as though Potential packed its bags and fucked off to Azerbaijan, flipping the bird through the open window of the cab.
The steel rail below my window is unfaltering; the view unflattering. I can almost glimpse the allure presented to the old hobos; the campfires, the fresh air. A can of beans and a park bench, with only the cold and the cops to care about. Americana! The Big Rock Candy Mountain! Shit, yes.
That was then: The street rods of my youth are stacked beneath rotting tarps in back lots, available for a song and a little elbow grease surrounded by brick boxes, dead lawns and patches of earthly mange. Stuffed animals abandoned overnight, duct-taped to the only tree within a five-block radius; sacrificed to the ghetto gods with prayers for a better tomorrow. A man stands with his hands in his coat pockets; he’s got fuck else to do today.
Looking out on the ass-side of retail hallucination, the optical illusion that every little thing is going to be fine. Crews whitewash graffiti off the side of a delivery truck that’s miles better than anything else I’ve seen on these walls. Raped and ravaged rivers parallel park against cheerful rows of freshly painted houses facing pockmarked parking lots, and piles and piles of junk and twisted, discarded who-gives-a-shit and damn but everything looks tired in the winter. It’s as though the Earth hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the Europeans got itchy for a road trip. I’m sure it all looks different in the Spring.
Hello, Brooklyn. I’m home.
(Posted from my iPhone)