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2007-04-24 - 11:33 a.m.

Every once in a while I check in to Julie Newmar's website to read her essays; I think this one is nice.

It Happened on the Fourth Avenue Local, Brooklyn, On my 77th Birthday, March 20, 1955

"Wake up!" the subway guard exclaimed
In no uncertain voice,
"For this is Seventy-seven' Street,
And you are Mister Royce."
"Thanks for your solicitude,"
I said, "but if I am still alive,
I will remain upon the train
'Til I reach Ninety-five."

--William Hobart Royce

Royce is one of the more obscure poets anthologized in the very groovy collection Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn. It's got the obvious choices (Walt Whitman, Frank O'Hara) but also some surprises (Derek Wolcott, Garcia Lorca, Galway Kinnell) and of course a slew of new poets who I'd never heard of.

Brooklyn can incite the worst sort of mawkish nostalgia, but not in this book, which alternates between tough, tender, clear-eyed, and bemused. Although I did get a warm glow when I read the poem above, as "Ninety Five" is my stop on the "Brooklyn Local" (now known as the R train).

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