Day Nineteen: ‘Commuting In Six’

April 19, 2017

Note: Written in six parts from December 2012 to March 2013; revised slightly.

Annie on a taxi top
Pigeons at her feet
Even the littlest things
Gotta eat

Flakes of bread
Near flakes of glass
Near whiskey billboard signs
It’s morning in the city
Where they never dim the lights

In muddy tunnels underground
Amid the haunted hallways
Electric slugs creep heavily
With glowing eyes

Eyepatch man beside
a foureyes bookworm
on the rails again
It’s an ocular festival of colour
underground as rats
from Greenpoint to Hoyt
and all the dim-lit grungy plats between

Whether yours are round or square
The universe doesn’t care
The city spins along untouched and prim

A carnival of irises
A circus tent of bulbs
And in November, multitudes of coats

Nervous guy
Flicking an invisible lighter
Jumping out of his tattered skin
When a man accidentally bumps his knee

Twitchy guy
Tweaking guy
Staring into the black abyss of underground movement
And only seeing himself
Left eye buzzing as a house fly
Neck whipping like a fishline
Clutching his cell like a rosary
Gripping his soul as though it were still there

Stop to stop
Platform to platform
He’s a prisoner
Kept caged by a silver rail

Nervous guy
As all the rest
Become the ether
And melt into the grand puddle of metro transfers

The Seventh Avenue Blues
Plucked by Joe Sixstring
On a rusty old axe
Not as sharp as she used to sing

The Blues is the breadth of the station
Softy spun into our ears
By a man in his ragged glory
Dirty jeans and patchy sleeves
Denim heart and heavy head
Pyramid soul and dusty croak

Miles from California
He sings of its gorgeous overnights
Its hazy love storms
Its murderous womb
And dragonslaying in the daylight
To no one

Away from the trees dressed as camouflaged soldiers
Away from the dizzying glee of jacketed skaters
Lightyears below where the brown ground still sprouts seedlings
Where slick rocks rise from the mechanical earth

Inside the bobbing flock of train commuters
again, the air narrows. Blood thickens.
Pressurized atmosphere above
their heads, gritty smears of floor beneath them,
a rising hate for brick and mortar days.
This city burns like a frost among the fishers
who, once great, cracked the ice away from shore.
The ice still pulls tight. It slicks the darkened halls
where these descendants lurch in rail machines
and clip their paws, flip newsprint, endure staring
competitions with their shoes.

The shaggy doowops crinkle their dollars.
The preppy poets button down their collars.
Vagrants seethe and enterprising ones
throat tales of cancerous mothers.
The last great king absconds at Church Avenue.


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