The Subway

I stand alone in the dark Fulton Street subway station,

Breathing in the urine-scented air,

Breathing out clouds of steam,

A subway train rushes along,

Not stopping,

Biting at my eardrums,

With the painful percussion,

Of thousands of people,

Silently screaming,

 

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

The air fanned by each subway car,

Rushes against me,

Pushes the ozone and the smell of burnt brake linings,

Into my nostrils,

Along with the air,

Sucked through the iron gratings,

Along miles of Brooklyn sidewalks,

Carrying the odor of a prostitute’s festering sores,

And the cries of a hungry, fatherless child in dirty diapers,

And the hoarse moaning of a city councilman mentoring a young intern,

And the cheap perfume of a fourteen year-old runaway,

Turning $20 tricks in an alley,

Smelling of stale Chinese food and wet dogs,

And . . .

 

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

. . . the smell of spoiled cabbage soup,

And the rancid remains of a hotdog buried in sourkraut,

And putrid lilies lying in a gutter,

All assaulting me, forcing me backwards,

Until my back presses against,

The grimy once-white tiles,

That coldly burn their graffiti on my spine:

God is dead,

Bake a kike,

Whitey sucks,

Kill the niggers,

 

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

I don’t want to see,

The train finally passes,

Its lights receding into the dank,

Dark tunnel beyond the platform,

The screeches and screams slowly die out,

Their echoes sucking behind them,

The smell,

Of my,

Warm

Vomit.

From Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems (C) 1978-2011 Victor D. Lopez

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