Along the Susquehanna
These headwaters that spring from Otsego Lake
deep in old Leatherstocking country
then joined by rivers with native names:
Chemung, Chenango, the Unadilla
at the Pennsylvania line, then south
at Scranton they link up with the Lackawanna.
Towns once connected by canals where folks
staked their lives and bet against the railroads,
never fully realizing that the fix was in.
Now all that remains so many clumps
of buildings, rented, rotting, or just left empty
to fend for themselves. Houses sharing
the same sparse frames as the used up old men
who live inside. These houses that struggle
to hold up the world with their spent eaves
and sagging backs They list to the brown and slow
river, the water dark with late shadows that wait
for the next packet ship headed downstream.