August 6, 2010


On the west bank
of the Newark City Subway tracks
near Davenport Avenue
and the abandoned Heller Parkway stop,
near the senior citizen warehouse
and opposite the pathetic junkyard
that passes for the maintenance yard,
there, sometimes, on a sunny day,
often in the evening ride home,
when the lightrail in which you are traveling
might be stopped for traffic,
you might look out your window
towards the setting sun
and down below,
above the tufts of grass
you might spot
a cute ball of brown fur we call
Murray the ground hog looking back.
How he got here, who will ever know?
Maybe he took a left at Poughkeepsie?
He rises to see us go by, sometimes.
If you blink, you may miss him.
Oh, sometimes he’ll be in his burrow,
blogging or surfing the net
for gophers and prairie dogs
looking for a good time.
You see Murray the ground hog lives
in a fairly safe world.
He doesn’t get screened by big machines
set up by Homeland Security,
the nearby fences are topped by barbed wire
and the singing overhead wires
warn away hawks and such from the sky
above his wildlife patch.
Not too many four-legged foxes in town.
Maybe an occasional bear lost in the city
but they rarely get to this side of the park.
Newark is no place for wildlife.
You see, Murray the ground hog’s
burrow entrance is off the beaten path
and tucked into a berm,
mostly covered with weeds and such,
but his very presence alongside man’s Iron Horse
threatens modern locomotion.
You can be sure the suits in NJT’s
downtown penthouse
are concerned Murray could dig the wrong way,
and, well, ZAP!
Not only to Murray,
but he could short circuit the city subway
and the new loop to Broad Street.
It could happen, you know.
I’m loathe to reveal
Murray the ground hog’s exact location,
or even his real name and sex,
as he might be deemed a threat to Homeland Security
and before you know it,
crews with rakes and hoes
set upon his ancillary brush to lure
and remove the cute critter
from his underground shelter.
(If you see a cement mixer along the fence,
bet it’s not getting a new foundation!)

I like to think my cute ground hog is safe
in his underground chambers and tunnels.
Maybe he’s sitting in the air conditioning
reading the NJ-dot-com Transit blogs?
Although, truth be told, I haven’t seen
the little guy in a while.
Maybe it’s been too hot for him.
Maybe I forgot to look out?
Maybe he’s got a girlfriend across the mews
and they are looking to settle down
and raise a family in the lush green park.
Or he shifted his train-spotting hours.
Or maybe it has something to do
with the large rocks and sticks cast
about his entry point.
He’d surely be a loser when set upon
by street-wise boys with implements of destruction.
Or maybe Murray the ground hog has moved on
because of the defoliant used alongside the tracks
to keep them clear of undergrowth,
some modern day version
of Newark-made Agent Orange,
that turns the vegetation brown
and allows the run off storm water
to run off somewhere else.
If you see Murray some day,
give him our regards.

- By Anthony Buccino
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.

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