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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Joseph Ceravolo: Perpetual


Ozzie's Luncheonette, food market and liquor store, Longport, New Jersey: postcard, issued c. 1930-1945; image by Boston Public Library, 11 February 2011 (The Tichnor Brothers Collection, Print Department, Boston Public Library)

Tank cleaning, Getty, sandwiches to go,
Ice cream, cold drinks
Oak trees in a row, school bus,
94 cents three eggs, toast and home's
keys and cars, ties and shirts, skirts
and sweaters. Food luncheonette,
windows, sulfates
of your tears exchanged
in an empty lot of sorrow, a lucky bet,
hardware and lumber, orders to takeout,
behind the face morning creeps,
keep right, no turn, one way
the blue jay, the blue sky,
the beautiful oily of the crow,
keep right, no way, just go

....September 16, 1987

Joseph Ceravolo (1934-1988): Perpetual (September 16, 1987) from Collected Poems, 2012

N. J. (I think this is New Jersey, we were on our way back to Ohio): photo by swindlehome, 9 May 2009

Schnackenberg's Luncheonette, Hoboken, New Jersey: photo by baseballoogie, 5 June 2010

 Luncheonette and neighbor, Passaic, New Jersey: photo by Dave Cook (Eating in Translation), 20 December 2012

AroundTownWithMumandDad2 #017. Last time we got to watch them feeding the fish. This time we got to watch them clean the tank. Last time was better for pictures, but this time was more fun: photo by wolftracker, 5 August 2010

School bus crossing Riva Avenue Bridge over Farrington Lake Creek, East Brunswick, New Jersey: photo by jag9889, 14 September 2011

School bus crossing Davidson Mill Road Bridge over Lawrence Brook, New Brunswick-East Brunswick, New Jersey: photo by jag9889, 14 September 2011

Flood, Bloomfield Avenue, West Caldwell/Fairfield border -- II. Looking straight down Bloomfield Avenue toward the Route 159 bridge over the Passaic River, West Caldwell, New Jersey: photo by Steven Maginnis, 29 August 2011

School bus on New Jersey Route 159 crossing eastbound bridge over the Passaic River, Montville, New Jersey: photo by jag9889, 10 October 2011


Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Fast-working... like vodka-spiked punch! Wonderful poem at grease-glistening city life a-go-go!

Red Shuttleworth

Be the BQE said...

What could be more mundane than a school bus crossing a small bridge? Reflected in the water below the image becomes timeless. (Sadly, the time of luncheonettes is ever more behind us.)

Unknown said...

Incredible poem. Life on the planet not looking so good right now. Some youngsters are having fun, the ones who won a lucky bet.


Wooden Boy said...

Sulfates of your tears exchanged in an empty lot of sorrow

These lines burn.

Ceravolo. They should be reading him in schools. They should be reading him everywhere.

TC said...

Joe Ceravolo was born of Italian immigrants in Queens but after college and a military stint worked as a civil engineer in New Jersey, where he lived quietly with his wife and three kids until his death from cancer at fifty-four, less than a year after the composition of this poem. Most of the photographs here were taken not far from where Joe made his home, in Bloomfield, Essex County. (Perhaps the county's most famous resident was a fictive one, from North Caldwell...).

ACravan said...

I had high hopes when I saw that you had posted a new/old Ceravolo poem. It had been too long since I had read one and I wasn't disappointed. Funny the different, mostly sad-about-life-right-now, but still varied reflections/reactions in readers' comments. We're feeling the same way, but I wonder how our feelings line up with theirs. I keep telling myself that eventually they'll get Something Right, but that's only based on the "stopped clock being right twice a day" principle. One thing that's interesting here is the Longport, NJ Ozzie's Diner postcard. It's wonderful and belongs here, but it's in a quite different part of the state (both geographically and in terms of state of mind) than the other NJ shots. It's a very fine, very rich, quiet south NJ shore beach community for Philadelphians -- really the chic-est of the "Philadelphia Hamptons." My mother-in-law told amazing stories about a house her family stayed in there once during the early 1930s where she foolishly rode out a terrible hurricane. Water came into the closed garage and floated the car, which they could hear banging back-and-forth between the garage door and the wall. The southern NJ shore is still wonderful -- the antithesis of Sopranos-vibe -- but suffered terribly in Hurricane Sandy last year. Off to NYC on the 6:19 am. Curtis

TC said...

Thanks, Curtis, and yes, at present, I expect the general consensus, among (even) intelligent folk, in this country, would probably be that the Day "They" Get Something Right will be the same day on which the Abominable Snowman stops in his tracks (in the snow, naturally), pauses, mumbles his name, rank and serial number, and shakes his head in sheer befuddlement... even as General Dianne "My husband sells post offices" Feinstein is elected to the Highest Office in the land.

(Er, did I just say Get Something Right...? Well, I suppose if she's not satisfied with the amenities in the joint, she can always hand it on along to hubby to peddle off...)

Two of the photo locations -- the two luncheonettes -- are indeed a bit remote from Bloomfield, but I've retained them for their luncheonettiness, I suppose. Schnackenberg's in Hoboken is a historic institution, like they say. And yes, Ozzie's Luncheonette in Longport, also a tad off the beaten track here, was in and out and in and out of the post... but finally, the mesmerizing abstract design pattern and the receding perspective and those back wall "windows" (which seemed to have jumped straight out of the poem), inclined me to throw chronology to the seagulls. (Joe did used to take the kids to the beach, so it did occur to me that there's that possible point of relevance...)