Elbow Room

who needs it
to be anonymous in a crowd
is the only dream you keep afloat
in a briny brew of ambivalence

the copper glow
of civil twilight
hovers momentarily above
the 79th Street Boat Basin

the Hotel Belleclaire
pretty on the outside
mille-feuille tucked inside
the view crumbles over an airshaft

hair dryers smoke to death
crowded coffee bars
no standing room
no end to stress

the end of stress
comes when you give away your power
in exchange for the thrill
of a wild brake free ride

you’ll never reach the Spuyen Duyvil
the way it once was
the mid-century Blue Building
blocks access to the Big C Rock

who will hold your hand
when you jump off
to prove your worth
to the Inwood Hill Park ridge

crossed the Broadway Bridge
on the #1 train
twice a day for 2 1/2 years
never thought about the water

you were crossing
on the way to Kingsbridge the Bronx
where you first declared yourself
a New Yorker

the way you will never be
a Minnesotan
the Mississippi
will not be claimed

if you can claim even a drop
of that forgotten creek
milk crates stolen from PS 7
a triptych of red doors

you admit nothing
as you stare at a rebuilt stoop
on Corlear Avenue
addicted to tears then as now

a thousand sheets
to the wind no more

when are you going to stop
this nonsense long enough
to report the worst
recurring nightmare of your life

in the bowels of the New York subway
the way it was
when you first experienced it
in 1976

could be the 168th Street Station
a crazy maze of narrow corridors
the stench and the heat
coming from somewhere

you can’t see
mysterious liquid dripping from rows
and rows of stalactites
dangling severely overhead

a pocket of cold threatens your feet
as you try to get from
the A to the 1
without falling over the edge

onto a thousand third rails
and the rats / well you know / bigger
than the biggest bread box
don’t look inside

you stuff yourself
into a crowded elevator
that goes down forever
a restroom you shouldn’t enter

neverending footsteps
behind you
getting closer
all the time

graffiti
do I hate you
do I love you
when you’re awake

Neptune and his sea
monsters in cast iron
stain a ring
around your heart

there is no treatment
there is no cure
there is this
vertical beauty

it’s not going anywhere
a map you know better
than your own footprints
in wet cement

2 thoughts on “Elbow Room

  1. I haven’t thought about NY subway stench in 20 years. But just now I can smell it. And feel the sweaty dampness. Thank you! (Words… just words.).

    Like

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