Watching strangers on the subway

I find a spot to stand on the train

and it feels like a paradise,

spaces between strangers sock and shoes

and sweat and stories—

let me keep my distance.

Although there is a tiredness to it.

I was taught I could do any damn thing,

and I believe it: I feel my uniqueness

lifting me up as a I walk,

swarming around in my veins

a home for the hive, bees going extinct

but I know where the honey is:

it’s right here, honey.

 

Touch the water.

Tell me about it in 10 years when your city has none

a reality not yet created yet so tangible I want to reach out

and touch it, drag it back to now so I connect my future son-

in-law to my sink, so he can grab a bucket and fill it,

empty it, fill it, empty it into Chennai, into Cape Town.

 

I know New York will follow one day

does my specialness stand a chance? Does our ability

to find our race and run it define our character,

our identity,

our existence

the years that have been dripping by,

like water from a faucet,

like honey from a hive.

I know that I cannot solve any problem alone but where do I

start? Tell me where to put this water and these bones and I’ll do it.

Just promise me someone will be here when the flowers bloom.

 

June 28, 2019

Advertisements

Starfish

On Fridays,

I volunteer to bring food from companies around New York City—

consequently, close to wherever I am to begin with—

and bring it to nearby shelters.

It’s a lot easier than feeling like a shit

as a homeless man walks by on the subway

but what am I, are we, to do?

It’s somehow, in the mess of human history, a collective fault.

One of your great grandmothers or great uncles twice removed

allowed this to happen, god damn it (I wish it was that simple)!

He walks pigeon toed like my brother,

who was bought $3,000 orthotics and attended therapy for years.

He walked past 10, 50, 100 people who look more or less like me

and I don’t care if you’re a Puerto Rican-Italian mix with Brooklyn roots:

You have some money.

You took a shower this week.

You have some way in your pocket or in your chest

to communicate

and be heard…

We are all starfish.

How many do we save?

 

If you want to volunteer to help rescue food from companies and restaurants around New York City, check out https://www.rescuingleftovercuisine.org/. It’s a simple way to make a difference, and you can choose rescues that best fit your schedule. xo

 

March 15, 2019

Subway Woman

She looks into the subway car

like a criminal looks into their jail cell

with contempt, with bitterness,

with acceptance.

 

It’s 1AM, car a quarter full,

faint summer air conditioning filling

the air along with her grievances.

 

She resigns, lays back in her seat

after picking some lint out of her hair

she doesn’t know how she got here, either.

 

 

Why this city? Why that man

that made you so tired you didn’t care

to go back to the love you found

beneath the stairs, hand in hand,

balancing the acts of dependance and diplomacy.

 

Plastic bag full on the lap,

eyes closed now, keeping still–

maybe that will make everything less real:

 

“I belong in the subway, now.

This orange chair may backdrop

to a life of longing,

I’ll sit here and nap

until I reach my destination unknown

(probably 145th street).

 

Perm fixed upon me with slight pride

I thought maybe that would help free me

but I guess adding more layers, more chemicals,

more time and energy doesn’t make up

for the enthusiasm my story has stolen from me.

 

How fun it was to lay in the sun at high noon,

park bench, husband waiting. How full the moon

felt when I first read his lips, his eyes, his kiss.

 

The kids will understand;

they are older now.

 

I can sleep in peace.”

 

based on a woman I saw in the NYC subway 

 

July 31, 2016

 

Morning Commute

Take

your hand

off the door

and take a step

with me.

 

Flex

your eyebrow

while your side eye

grants me a grin–

did I say it

again?

 

“I like you,”

and all those messy thoughts aside,

“I know you,”

or at least I want to.

 

My steps feel lighter

now that you’re part of the story

rolling through my head–

or is this my stop at Penn?

 

Don’t want to miss my train again…

M-New-York-Subway-Paul-L-via-Flickr.jpg

January 28, 2016