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Ron Kolm reads from Suburban Ambush

Ron Kolm and I are both Pennsylvanians who moved to New York City. During his time here, he’s edited magazines and published the work of other poets; The Ass’s Tale by John Farris is a great example of his endeavors. NYU has begun to archive Ron’s work, and the work that he has published. I was happy to have him come over last week and read some poems, New York City scenarios in a bookstore, on the subway and in a bar, three of the places where you most likely will run into Ron. As he reads, listen for some really fine similes. The first two poems are from his most recent book, Suburban Ambush. I am adding a poem below called Terminal, which you can find online at Otter Magazine; you’ll find the link below. I enjoyed Terminal the first time I read it; I think you will too.

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It’s a quiet day
In Grand Central Station
And I’m killing time
At the information counter
Looking stuff up
On the bookstore’s computer.
There’s a sudden commotion
Outside the front window
As a crowd of people
Run up the ramp
Towards 42nd Street
Yelling and waving their arms.

Something must have gone
Horribly wrong
In the terminal—
Maybe someone has a gun
Or a bomb.
Perhaps it’s the terrorist attack
We’ve been anticipating
For so long.

And just like that
They all come running
Back down, still shouting,
Just like in a Marx Brothers
Movie, and this finally gets
The manager’s attention.
Now even he knows
That something bad
Has occurred

He gives the order
To evacuate the store
So we ask the customers
To please leave quickly
As panic sets in.
A guy I work with
Pulls me aside and says
He’s going to slip out
The rear entrance
Fuck everyone else
So I follow him
Through the tunnels
Over to the shuttle
Where we exit the station.

When we reach street level
I see a horrendous sight:
The sky is blood red
And though it’s summer
Snowflakes are falling
And coating everything.
I figure that a plane
Must have crashed
Into a nearby building.

All I want to do
Is flee this nightmare–
But we’ve been told
That if disaster strikes
We’re supposed to head
To our assembling point
On the corner
Of 43rd and Madison
Where heads will be counted
And we’ll find out
Who’s still alive.

On my way there
I stop in a bar
To watch the news on TV
And finally find out
What actually happened:
A Con Ed steam pipe exploded
Just a couple of blocks away
And shot debris high
Into the surrounding sky.
I toss back a few
Glued to the screen
And forget all about
The bookstore.

Days later
Con Edison announces
That the snow is asbestos,
And sets up a collection point
Where contaminated clothes
Can be dropped off
And put in garbage bags
To be buried somewhere–
But I can’t afford
To trash mine
So I simply wash them
And hope for the best.



Ron Kolm by Bob Witz

Suburban Ambush is published by autonomedia. You can check them out.


It’s always best to browse and buy in a bookstore. If you can’t, there is always Amazon.

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