“North Jersey” by John O’Brien

Train tops tick tacking
next to half melted snow banks
holding up the traffic
like everything else.
Ruminating on pavement
in our collective toyota
which will always have
those wheezing tires.
My face melts at the stop light.
Another cake and coffee break.
I unease off my brake pedal
hoping for the green goading
it on helplessly with
“the best” “excellence”
that can be found nowhere
but the pizza shops who
are framed in red brick and
indebted to their water.
That fucking Hoboken water.
I can always find good bread
but the cost is this Lavazza traffic stop
dripping out cars like the 4pm decaf
that Glenn put on for himself.
There is crunching all around me.
Cannolis, boots, tires from jeeps
nestling salt with naive doorless
fantasies and the fallen
smile of someone who
knows they’re being watched
by someone without orange skin.
But in the springtime,
after all that’s left is the snowmelt
there is a scent in the suburbs
that makes you forget about
getting out of there:
the hymns of smoked eggplant
and your magnolia tree
finally taking a warm breath.
The pavement sinks
until it’s dead
like everything else.


John O’Brien is a student at Montclair State University. He is doing okay.

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