Three years ago.
I watch America roll by. Hilly land and mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire on into Massachusetts where this country began. People wave at the train as it goes by. I sit in the bar car having a $7 beer and a bag of peanuts; collecting shells and placing them in a paper coffee cup while others play cards and listen to music on their headphones; bobbing heads to beats I can barely hear, yet it is a distraction. I hear just enough to make out the profanities that are scratchy and screeching in their ears. The youngsters look at me and smile. I pull out the matchbook given to me from the young waitress in Burlington and I think, They’re not all bad. In fact, They’re not all bad becomes my mantra. I say it over and over again in times of stress. A whole culture taken over by youth with old men financing their every move; I continue looking out the windows.
The train runs through Connecticut where the land is not quite as mountainess, but, the feeling is still the same. These are the blue bloods of America mixed with poverty in New Haven, Bristol, Hartford. It is actually the perfect picture of America; those who have and those who have not. There are those back in the Midwest who believe there are those that have worked for it and those who haven’t. But, they have not seen the wall that surrounds Yale, or the green yards of Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. People in this country refuse to believe there is a caste sysyem. There are the rich and there are the poor and never do the two meet. Or, shall we say three? That is if there is a true middle class anymore. We wait to see the outcome; It’s not dark yet. But, it’s getting there, as Bob Dylan said. Yes indeed. It most certainly is.
Manhattan. The Port Authority Building. Every vagabond in America is here. And, if they are not here they’re on the other coast: Los Angeles, San Fransisco. But, a large percentage of them are here in New York. They live in shelters, drop in centers, sleeping in church basements, on benches, sidewalks, city parks and so-on. A lot of them try to sleep in the Port Authority Building. Junkies falling asleep in bathroom stalls, drunks staggering into corners, hookers on the roof top and parking garage. Offering clients special discount rates. They are young girls just off the bus. They are men wearing wigs and tight skirts. They are former housewives with habits. All of them searching out of desperation for dollars to support their addictions. They are a community of loners. Death is destined.