The One Fifteen to Penn Station
THE ONE FIFTEEN FROM PENN STATION, (CavanKerry Press; April 2012; $16.00), a debut collection from Pushcart Prize-nominated poet Kevin Carey, celebrates life, loss, and the intangible, quotidian experiences that linger well beyond their initial significance. Stretching back to a middle class Boston childhood and forward to middle age disappointments and compensations, Carey’s poems percolate with humor, gratitude, and grace.
“Carey’s poems, firmly rooted in the American landscape of the city and its surrounding towns, bring these places and people alive for us in poetry that is specific, clear, and unflinching,” writes Marie Mazziotti Gillan in her foreword to the collection. “Whether he is describing the scene he sees outside the train window in all its gritty, surprising beauty or working-class Revere Beach, the town where he grew up and where his mother still lives, or the thirty-five foot Madonna on a hill in East Boston, his observations are precise, his humor sardonic, his eyes are the window through which we observe the world he knows so well.”
Time is not the enemy in Carey’s work, but rather an inevitable force that brings with it nostalgia, yes, but also acceptance.
I turned fifty this year and a half
a century seems like a history
lesson, like someone should be
answering an essay question about
my childhood for extra credit,
or scanning my homework written in
longhand as some withered yellow parchment,
and wasn’t it true that the trees
grew taller then in my backyard
and we built snow forts as big
as apartment buildings….
The poet writes with unbridled bemusement about typical, mostly mild, boyhood indiscretions, eulogizing those less fortunate friends who did not make it as far. His memories revisit the classroom, the playground, the old neighborhood, old girlfriends—but rarely with a strong sense of regret about what was or might have been. Instead, there is often humor, as when a dislodged spitball lands on his teacher’s green high-heeled pump (“Seventh Grade”) or his mother offers him some frank advice about his private parts (“Mother Told Me”).
Small triumphs on the basketball court that brought him closer to his father resonate years later with bittersweet honesty. The father-son continuum plays out in time enjoyed with his own son, often at the movies, where “ninety minutes turns into years,/but like in Narnia we are still the same,/not getting older too fast,/not getting to the point/where we don’t need each other… (“Movies”).
Kevin Carey’s “poems celebrate the ride of life, real life—and its twin, real death –with wit, precision, and a brave and unmistakably tremendous heart,” says David Daniel. THE ONE FIFTEEN TO PENN STATION is a masterful debut from an exciting new voice.
About Kevin Carey
Kevin Carey teaches Writing at Salem State University. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, recognized with an Allen Ginsburg Poetry Award, and been nominated for Best of the Net 2011. His co-written movie script, Peter’s Song, won Best Screenplay at the New Hampshire Film festival in 2009. Other screenwriting awards include The Massachusetts Film Office Screenwriting Competition and The Woods Hole Film Festival. His one-act plays have been staged at The New Hampshire Theater Project and at The New Works Festival in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Carey is also a seventh grade basketball coach. He lives with his family inBeverly,Massachusetts.