Here We Are Now, a novel of the Grunge Generation
In the white light skies of my child minds eye
Johnson’s farm was the edge of the world
green pastures, green trees
green hills like green seas
Above and beyond the David Moore Heights
the trusty trestle bridge and
elevatorgrainwhitewashed barn and house
we would Follow the track to the coal dump “Alamo” place
where I found fire and lived in fear
of ever going home
or trip down “Washington”
past the academy
up to the Thrall
what a call it would’ve been
“Uptown” city set of my child minds eye
sliding down a twisted trail
to a brick pond and beyond the “pines” forever
Three Victorian stories of attic door fear
a face without a voice without a face
not a trace of either
only a faint cerebral chill
It speaks of Calicoon Creek
the wilds of Shawangakill on
down to Rutgers
and a stone of familiar shape
indian vision or anachronism?
not a chiseled groove, only smooth
couldn’t prove the authenticity of my diamond
though knotted, tensed and cramped from climbing
Succesion of the seasons with no reason
This poem represented his young life in New York. There was an old coal dump made of concrete which resembled the Alamo. He’d go there and play cowboys and indians, and with matches. One time a friend set his jacket on fire and blamed Dylan for it. The kid’s mother wouldn’t let him play with Dylan anymore. And Dylan thought the kid was a little weird anyway.
Washington Street was the street which took him down from Oxford Road (his street) toward town or “Uptown” as it was called. In his mind “Uptown” was the classic “stage” for a movie set in a small town.
The “Thrall” library, was a favorite hangout where he remembered reading, skimming really, “A Cricket in Times Square” for his first real book report. It was a long way for his mom to yell or “call” for him at dinner time. The cricket reminded him of Jiminy Cricket, small but clever.
The Pines was a forested area just five minutes walk from his home. On the way there you’d pass the “brick” pond, which froze in winter, to get there. If there was snow on the ground you could ride a sled halfway there. He and his friends played hockey on the pond and, in his mind, he lived in a world fit for a greeting card by Currier and Ives. They’d fish off the hood of an old broken down car in the summer and fly a kite in the field between the pond and the pines in the fall. Once, a fishing hook got stuck so deep in his hand that he and his buddy Kevin were at a loss and decided it best to go home. Dylan believed he could feel the hook scraping at his finger bone. His dad had to get a pair of pliers and flip his wrist quickly to get the right angle and get it out quickly. Dylan didn’t fish for a while after that but not because of the accident but because the first snow hit that week, an early one, and the focus turned to sleigh-riding and ice-skating and hockey.
He lived in a three-story Victorian where he would imagine he could see faces dancing around on the attic door which faced into his bedroom. On his first trip into the attic he was confronted by a large bear trap hanging from the ceiling. As cool as contraptions like this were, it seemed a bit eerie to him to see it hanging from the ceiling. He imagined that at one time this might have been some medieval torture chamber.
The attic later became a welcoming place. Each fall his family would put their summer clothes in boxes and store them there. After a few years, he began to associate a trip up the stairs with the coming of summer.
Calicoon Creek, the Shawangakill and Rutgers Creek were three of his and his father’s favorite fishing spots. One time at Rutgers Creek he found a stone that was shaped like a Volkswagen bug and wondered if the “indians” knew about cars before they were invented. He assumed the rock had been there for ages and he had read of the visions Native Americans had of the coming of the white man. His favorite book had been Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and he had a tendency to want to be an indian when the kids played cowboys and indians.
His diamond was a “Hercamer” diamond. Really more like quartz crystal but he would defend its authenticity to his friends. He and his dad had climbed pretty high near Sugar Loaf Mountain to find it. He brought it to “Show and Tell” in second grade and was the star of the day. Another kid topped him the next day with a functioning volcano that erupted using a combination of peroxide and baking soda or something like that. Dylan had done something similar at home. He liked to mix together anything he could find in the bathroom to see what would happen. He’d mixed Calamine lotion and peroxide and received a similar result. Damn, if he’d only thought of the applications.
The trips to the town of Sugar Loaf were memories that would stay with him for the rest of his life. Nestled in the Warwick Valley, it was surrounded by apple orchards and horse farms and had been there for more than 250 years. And it wasn’t just the beauty of the place or watching a ball drop through an old machine built with an internal maze; the name of which he couldn’t remember. Seeing all the many things that people created, in the old-fashioned manner of creating, gave him an admiration for people who could make amazing things out of raw materials.
This, combined with his father’s story of the Black Dirt, made for a day of wonder:
“The Black Dirt Region stretches for miles, from just below Goshen to the north, down into New Jersey in the south, from Mounts Adam and Eve in the east across to the Shawangunk Ridge in the west.
Once an ice age lake, layer upon layer of peat slowly built up until by the time humans arrived in the area, the entire valley was a swamp, studded by small dry islands. In the 19th century waves of German immigrants arrived and began to systematically drain the swamp converting the newly reclaimed land into farms.” *
“You can grow just about anything here Dylan. It’s magical dirt.”
In Dylan’s mind he saw plants of all kinds shooting up like bottle rockets with their fruits exploding in a burst of fire.