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On “Weehawken, New Jersey”

No one elected yet for this position
on the largest rock, sitting chairman
of a shoreline jury, keeping an eye
on Manhattan’s inconstant skyline,
an ear to fog’s muffled testaments.
No judge here to parlay the truth
of arrowheads — schist and steel,
stones and skyscrapers. Next decision
hanging on the neutral, two-way
river flow of Muh-hea-kan-tuck.
This poem was inspired by Harry Wilks’s 2001 photograph Weehawken, New Jersey, part of the exhibition Hudson Valley : Spanning the Banks at the Albany Institute of History and Art. You can see the photo by searching HERE.
Sound & Sense — Most lines in the poem have four relatively strong beats. When looking at the photograph, I sensed that two groups of images (rocks and skyscrapers) were at a standoff, sizing up each other across the river, trying to decide which of them was the authentic property holder, which the impostor. This notion of judgment-making led me to choose a cluster of words related to the courtroom. Having just watched a television series on Native American tribes, I was also thinking about Manhattan/New Jersey properties’ first occupants. Hence the word “arrowheads.” Probably “testimony” would be the more accurate word, but I use “testaments” instead because it’s one syllable shorter, and because a short “e” occurs in both “testaments” and “arrowheads.”  Muhheakantuck is an indigenous name for the Hudson River, whose ocean-fed currents flow in two directions.

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

2 responses »

  1. Hi Theresa,

    Wonderful poem about a wonderful work of art. Many thanks.



  2. Hello Therese,
    Your poem which was inspired by my photograph is a first for me. I appreciate your work. I also found your “Sound and Sense” section important for me to learn which parts of my photo, in addition to other influences, led you to the words you chose. I notice that you picked up on my hazy, hot, and humid “inconstant skyline.”

    Thank you

    Harry Wilks


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