Poem for Oneonta, New York by Joan McNerney

NY Ruth Peterkin licensed

Poem for Oneonta, New York
by Joan McNerney

We sleep with trains
dreaming in Indian names.
Otsego, Otsego long lake
of night trailing
snow showers of light.

In black wells of
solitude through
silent fixed stars
we search for trains
brightened by Indian names.

Neahwa Neahwa shadows
of Indian names filled
with fragrant spruce and
cooling winds of trains.

Whistling this winter
long lonely trains
freight trains boxcar trains
riding past avenues marked
with Indian names.

We sleep with train
dreaming in Indian names.
Susquehanna Susquehanna
long hill of light trailing
this December night.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Oneonta, New York, in autumn. Photo by Ruth Peterkin, used by permission.

nan crews table rock copy

NOTE: Oneonta, a city in southern Otsego County, New York, is one of the northernmost cities of the Appalachian Region. The 2010 U.S. Census listed Oneonta’s population at 13,901. Its nickname is “City of the Hills.” While the word “oneonta” is of undetermined origin, it is popularly believed to mean “place of open rocks” in the Mohawk language. This refers to a prominent geological formation known as “Table Rock” at the western end of the city. The city is surrounded by the town of Oneonta, a separate municipal and political jurisdiction.

PHOTO: View of Oneonta, New York, from Table Rock (private property). Photo by Nan Crews, All Rights Reserved.


In pre-pandemic days, the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad, built in 1869, offered a fall foliage tour in upstate New York. The journey began at Milford Depot in Oneonta, New York, and the 2.5-hour ride took passengers through the Susquehanna River Valley with rolling hills, farm fields, and dazzlingly forests. Here’s hoping the train will be up and running in 2021!

PHOTO: Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad train near Oneonta, New York. Photo by Tony Photo, All Rights Reserved.

oneonta ny map

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For a few years, I lived in Oneonta after leaving New York City.  It is a lovely sleepy town.  I moved to another town, Ravena, which is even smaller and quieter.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days, as well as in four Bright Hills Press anthologies, several editions of the  Poppy Road Review, and numerous Spectrum Publications.  Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net.  She has four Best of the Net nominations.

Author photo illustration by Scot Moorhouse

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