New Jersey Transit, in transit

Eric Baron


Between Trenton and New York,
on the way to visit my father
so my mother gets the weekend
to herself, a man gets on the train.
It’s going to snow. He wears a
gabardine coat and a black wool hat.
He hands out pamphlets, some which are
a single page, others three, or five
or ten (I count the pages in the one
that spills and fantails on the ridged
aisle floor) and I study the poems
written in glossy ink – black,
pink, navy, emerald and ruby –
staining my fingers. As I read
I trace each line with a finger
and feel the damp words sinking
into my skin, literally. I imprint
the words “carapace” and “denizen,”
“mensche,” and “L’Homme armé
anywhere they fit: until I have verbal
tattoos along the sides of fingers,
both fronts and backs of my palms,
and forearms. I almost do my eyelids.
The letters crawl as the train rattles
and I am an ant colony. I have the
wherewithal to hide from my mother,
facing out the window when
she gets back from the bathroom.
Outside, the Jersey wetland before
Manhattan is as dry as it will be
all winter. I count the first ten flakes,
as snow begins to fall. First hard,
then wet, then soft, and running
down the dirty window pane.


In Penn Station, my mother
drags me without seeing.
My wrist aches when we hit
the street. The words are
itching to be free. Every flake
has the opposite effect that
flame would on skin:
makes them quiver in place, grow solid,
darker and more substantial,
of their own without bleeding or melting
into the other. This is like the sole joy
of adolescence, our worst fears
at once: As my mother sees
and screams, I slip from her,
flying through the street, blending
with traffic, a person, a taxi, a
post no bills, a blur against
the side of a bus, an ad;
I am a piece of nothing, everything,
movement without thinking.


Eric Baron is currently an MFA student at Temple University. He writes poetry and fiction. He is interested in the idea of migrations and movement as they apply to the notions of convergence of ideas and transcendence, or moving beyond violence, by raising consciousness and awareness.



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