Friday, August 13, 2010

Meeting Again in Cities

Poem of the Day:
"A Second Train Song for Gary" by Jack Spicer
Poetry, July/August 2008

Today I had lunch with a friend from my study abroad program. He was a close friend during my stay in Europe; he was one in a group of several that I traveled with through Spain and Portugal.

Spicer uses the word "strange" or a variant of it (i.e. "stranger") seven times in his poem. The piece begins, "When the trains come into strange cities/The citizens come out to meet the strangers" (lines 1-2). From these first lines the reader inhabits a room of loneliness and estrangement. Where are these "strange cities" and who are these "strangers"?

Last semester I spent a lot of time in "strange cities." Munich was too clean, Berlin too sprawling and uncertain about its identity. Porto was cheap, and where I contracted bed bugs. Prague was old, and strange in the way it hoarded its oldness.

Today it was nice to be in a (somewhat) familiar city, with a familiar friend with whom I'd once been a stranger -- those odd days of orientation week -- in a strange city.

Through to the poem's end Spicer maintains the sense of estrangement; "A Second Train Song for Gary" ends with four words: "In this strange city." Atop this floats a yearning to be un-estranged by the act of love. He writes, "I leave my love with you/I leave my love with you/In this strange city."

A Poem A Day Audrey


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