Archives for category: Regional

by David Tucker

I walked into the K-mart in West Orange, New Jersey
to waste some time, avoiding my work at the paper,
letting lunch hour go another hour on a Friday afternoon,
and found the place almost empty, slow as weather,
a museum of itself. Three or four customers
wandered the aisles unhurried considering
the ninety-nine dollar suits and the death of god
or lifting the arms of fall jackets hung in rows
of moody browns and blues, thinking
what good is the death penalty. Clerks read newspapers
and talked in a listless hum, offering solutions
to the gas crisis while leaning across counters,
bright shirts labeled Clearance, whispered
when I walked through them, the jewelry bins
shined in late afternoon sun, calling there is still
time to buy something that will change your life.
At the concession stand a ragged customer
in a dirt-shined suit chewed on a chocolate donut
and sipped black coffee, looking past the parking lot,
carefully considering his choice for secretary of state.
A few more shoppers were getting out of their cars,
a child straggled along from a hand
And the heavy grandmother who ran that little
dining section stared at a wheel of hotdogs
that turned under yellow baking light sweating
beads of fat and Elvis sang his heart out
on the muzak spool to the people in the hour
that seemed it might never end.


(Photo of David Tucker in the newsroom of the Newark Star-Ledger by Keith Meyers for the New York Times, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Read an article about the author at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Journalist and poet David Tucker grew up in Tennessee. He earned a BA at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied with poet Donald Hall. Booklist critic Donna Seaman has described his poems as “deceptive in their sturdy plainness . . . inlaid with patterns as elegant as the swoop of swallows, and images as startling and right as a cat’s bowl of milk shimmering as its ‘moon god.’” His debut collection, Late for Work (2006), was awarded the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize by judge Philip Levine. Donald Hall, a former US poet laureate, appointed Tucker a Witter Bynner Foundation Fellow in 2007. A newspaper editor for more than 25 years, Tucker is an editor for the Metro section of the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper, where he was part of the team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. (Source:

by James Whicomb Riley

I come upon it suddenly, alone–
A little pathway winding in the weeds
That fringe the roadside; and with dreams my own,
I wander as it leads.

Full wistfully along the slender way,
Through summer tan of freckled shade and shine,
I take the path that leads me as it may–
Its every choice is mine…

(Read the entire poem at

Photo: Actor James Dean (1931-1955), an Indiana native, reads from THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS OF JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY. James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), born in Greenville, Indiana, was known as the “Hoosier” poet.  (For the record, Indiana is the Hoosier State — and “hoosier” is a term for someone from Indiana.)


Morning on Pier 86, New York City, October 30, 2012.

(Photo by Mike G, via New York Times)


A dog looks out from an open window as its companion takes pictures from a car parked near the seawall in Scituate, Massachusetts. Photo by Elise Amendola/AP, Oct. 29, 2012. 


East River (New York City) by Edward Hopper (1920)

The calm after Hurricane Sandy in New York City made me think of the above painting by Edward Hopper (1882-1967).


A man watches the rising tide in Battery Park as Hurricane Sandy makes its approach in New York. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters, Oct. 29, 2012)

Today, our thoughts are with the people from Georgia to Maine affected by Hurricane Sandy.  There are no words that can adequately express our concern, but we just wanted to thank all the brave souls — rescue workers, firefighters, medical personnel, and others — who have helped (and continue to assist) the weak, sick, infirm, and those in harm’s way.

Of the hundreds of Sandy-related photos I’ve viewed during the past few days, the one featured above by Andrew Kelly of Reuters is my favorite. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this is one of the best photographs I’ve ever seen — anywhere, anytime.

The photo’s composition is masterful — the top bar of the fence parallel with the horizon line, the man in the foreground facing the Statue of Liberty in the distance, the ripples on the ocean mirrored by the rippled water on the ground, the bench on the right a counterpoint to Liberty Island beyond.

Then there’s the man in blue standing on the left-hand bench looking out to sea like an explorer. I was going to call the color of his pants and jacket  “Titian blue,” but this photo is reminiscent of a Edward Hopper painting — and I didn’t want to mix my art-related metaphors.

While I couldn’t find any Hopper paintings of “man on shore facing impending storm,” I did find many of people facing the vast sea, even if they were just sitting on the beach. The man in blue in this photo doesn’t want to stay home. He is a New Yorker and he wants to be where the action is. He wants to meet and greet Sandy, wants to see what she’s all about. And if this whole storm took him by surprise and he’s unprepared, no problem — he’s a New Yorker and will improvise, just give him some Glad Bags and he’ll make himself some rain boots.

This photo speaks volumes more to me, but, for now, I think I’ll just leave it at that.


Photo: “It’s almost eerie that the city that never sleeps is at a standstill” by Kavita Dalal. 


Photo: “A gull stands in the water washing over Fisherman’s Pier” [in West Haven, CT] by Gary F. Spinner. 


Photo: “Bayville Beach, New York, on Sunday {10/28/12]. My daughter watches the whitecaps and birds circle” by Eloise Halpern. 


Photo: “Looking west on Emerald Isle, NC, as Sandy moves away,” by E. Crane, 10/29/12.