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The Damnation of New Jersey

Uncle Frank despised it, couldn't understand
why some of our family lived there, though
to me my Jersey cousins George and Sybil
were exciting, mysterious and gay.
Frank hated Jersey drivers and ridiculed
their towns: Nutley, Ho-Ho-Kus,
Peapack, Bivalve and Hackensack and,
had he lived, would have targeted
the endless McMansion miles,
the all-we-know-of-hell strip malls.
Ah, Mahwah, Cheesequake, Piscataway
Secaucus, Tuckahoe and Succasunna!

He told me that where the Giants
now play football, giant pipes
disgorged raw sewerage, and that
the local farmers planted their tomatoes
in the ooze. But he did admit
those were the best tomatoes he ever ate.

What can I tell you?
Frank was a plain man, a truckdriver,
who loved me and was always kind.
He never read poetry—surely not Yeats—
and would have been surprised to hear
that love will pitch its tent
in the very place of excrement.

Ed Ochester

American Poetry Review

May / June 2012

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