Creative Work: Underground – New York City by Joan McNerney

Creative WorksToday we have a series of poems inspired by various stations on New York City’s Subway system. The poet is one we’ve published on Words, Pauses, Noises before: Best of the Net nominee, Joan McNerney. Her words convey the feeling of having little, human things on the mind while being surrounded by the chaos of a subway station.

Underground – New York City

Boro Hall

Tracks filled with coal.
Grey maggots sludge to the station.
Oily eyes.
Bars of iron strand wrapped
by grime, tin can signs.

Electric bullets
bleed upon the rails.
Blue, white flashes
leap in joy.
They move, they move
constantly they move.

Faces of horror
press forward in
casually crushed newspaper.
Laying on neatly boxed ads,
they stare at pinched bolts.

Chains ruminating
in counterpoint
to the roar
blistering roar
of the engine.

Press your mouth
like O
against rigid glass.Chambers Street

IND line
Follow the
green arrow.

Hesitantly, I press
a thousand thoughts
upon the subway steps.

Soaked spinach in the sink
Sour steak upon the stove.
Piled papers in the pantry.
Broiled blankets at the bakery.
Charcoaled carrots at the cleaners.
Crystal cats in my cranium.

to keep the pace.

Find yourself
a dirty corner
like a hard grey pigeon
who eats her feathers.

West Fourth Street

Fifty seconds of meditation.
Do these electric clocks work?
Five after this.
Ten after that.
Stare at blankness
ease your mind.
(A Buddhist trick I picked up
in the Holland Tunnel).

“Free Political Prisoners from
Concentration Camps in U.S.A.

Tuesday. Thorough be.
Who will I meet?
Am I neat?
Use my hands as a comb.
Clean my hands with my teeth.
Brush my teeth with my nails.
May I sleep in a garbage pail?

O, random papers
frantic notes
“I love you’s”
figure work
bits of art
Musketeer wrappers.

My pen is insane.
It leaks through my veins.
I will trace my life and trial
in fine lines upon these shining tiles.

Penn Station

Five fingers dance
upon this yellow scrap.
My feet, feet
in constant time
to the dull beat.

How many cancer victims on this train?
How many plastic hearts?
How many hemophiliacs?
I should give my blood.
Brand X.

See the cop.
See the funny cop.
See how the funny cop
can squeeze his toy
into my face and make
me all bloodshot.

This is a dream
a speck, pinch
of the universe.
Prison to put
in time.

Only to forget.

Grand Central

Blue steel walls
of metal perfection.
Through gothic arches,
we pass peeking at
miniature lights.
Handles like silver birds.

I wish I were
an engineer.
The music, music
mad, mad music
of wires trapped
within wires
leak through membranes
fuse the heart and brain.
Copper edges prick
my arms, legs
an electric voodoo doll.

Waltz on the third rail.
Howl you tired dog
on all soul’s night.

Let us create a dirge.
Let the sun pour, merge
through this narrowed
darkened walls.

The author’s use of language in this piece truly evokes the experience of commuting via a metro system in the reader’s mind. She beautifully humanizes the situation that is familiar to so many beautifully and somehow makes it feel but magical and bleak, hectic and calm

Than you for reading. We hope you enjoyed. Do leave your thoughts in the comments and check out our submission guidelines if you would like to see your own work appear on Words, Pauses, Noises.



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