Taking the Train of Singularity South from Midtown

As the funnel of everyone in Times Square 42nd Street

cascades down the station stairs,

pace and urgent purpose damming

briefly at turnstiles before cleaving

into streams for an 8th or 7th Avenue

train, an A Train, the Two,

and while quick, diverged currents, hot

and breathless, pick platforms, stop

to listen for slivering steel drums

in the wait for translation to work or home,

here, at the side of a narrow island

forty feet under ground,

with a wind-rush and rattle that drive

away agile, enterprising mice,

Ett Tag, Bir Tren,

Mmoja Treni, Een Trein,

Premier Train, Jeden Trenovat,

the red One Train halts

And the motley, mustered public steps

forward, hushed and obscure, hips

shifting at doors in slide-by

witness, separate bodies white

and yellow, brown, black and tan,

pocked or whiskery, whiskeyed, wan,

green, gray, big or bone-house,

the meek, mouthy, angry, lost –

a tourist who trails maps and binoculars

jamming last onto the crowded car.

App-trance and defensive doze,

deft conventions of eye and elbow

mind the tribes. A breath brushes

your strapping hand. The platform passes.

Tumbled from the scrum of Penn Station,                34th Street

a handsome hardboy’s followed by nuns,

louche in blue loafers, who start

with the tame tourist, a fresh mark,

move to a laptop on a clenched lap,

a  plugged hummer, a patient cop,

a girl in a green hijab who quits

her Misbaha, nods at the matching habits,

smiling saints panhandling

the parish – the buxom beauty who pulls

open her purse, offering slowly

to a witness of rapt women as she throws

dimes into the can, clink, clink:

“The thing of it is, here’s the thing,

the reason. The reason being: yes.”

Eyes rise to Viva Las Vegas!,

Absolut, a scratched Cadbury ad:

Amy + Elvistogether at last.

Morning unfolds. A uniformed girl,                    28th Street

perfumed and stage-painted, twirls

on arrival, greets the hardboy’s attitude

with a teasing parade of school plaid,

half-and-half harlot, ingénue,

in salsa, sour grape, Tabu,

Opined widely by a man who makes                      23rd Street

his mute partner blush back,

a blonde by the busty mater, opposite

his signing hands and the black habits.

An icon-minded, common commute

Flourishing below Fashion Avenue

in GAP and caps, Jets, Giants,

Puma, Nike, and tapestry pants,

N.Y.F.D.,

in the sexy matron, the sibyl, who speaks

with sly and cryptic, wisecrack sadness:

“A known fact: apart. Anonymous,”

During a door delay in which a pigeon,                       18th Street

engaged in a serious, moral mission,

preens onto the car, the pride of Chelsea,

an urban bird who avoids the eyes

of travelers, they in turn avoiding the bird

behind pickets of print and posture.

The nuns, surrounded by trousers, smile.

The bumpkin, gaze behaving, smiles.

The worldly pigeon, a positive nodder,

fronts the speechless woman who figures

food with a brown bag at her knees,

and witness-wise, dumb as destiny,

fate or whateverhappenshappens,

eats seeds from her open hand.

Lights flicker. The train, in fits,                  14th Street

limps to the Village, St. Vincent’s.

The sage woman, staring intently

at a dark wood of girders and graffiti,

bristles, bosom and big rings:

“The only rebuttal’s love. Longing.”

The cars start. Peeper skews

to ViagraVisit the Brooklyn Zoo,

listens to chatter blend with brat-

happy prattle, the porn plot

girl who giggles like tickling and sways,

sailor, to the rock and roll of the train,

mix with tin clinks of a can’s

conjured coins, the cluck of nuns,

whole rests from the help-meet

whose pigeon pecks at sunflower seeds,

a tightly fused and multi-tracked

Suite for City in Clickety-Clack.

At Christopher, a drunk curses Christ,                Christopher Street

easy credit, his mother, the Mets,

warns of the end of the world and laughs.

No one gets on, no one off.

The train stops short of Houston,                      Houston Street

stops in the sealed tunnel. Engines

stop, dull lights die

as bodies breathe an undivided sigh.

Lights on. Off. Tense

whispers worm the blind silence,

the stage stripped to underlying time,

a long, long loss of light.

When a Zippo’s flicked at the far end

of the car, the steely woman sends

down a candle, the candle slow

to return in grudged transfer, glow

soft on the row of stoic handlers,

godgift and galoot, gangbanger,

faces awake in dim, driven

epiphany, grace held and given.

The hardboy’s forehead flames with lipstick.

The blowzy bird runs from a kick.

Lights. Jerk of cars. Lurch.

Shoes shuffle, buttocks touch,

breasts and elbows, corps de ballet

in brave, awkward, standing balance.

During the usual shift and witness,                     Canal Street

the school girl, in gimmick innocence,

leaves with hardboy and his target heart.

“Scratch and match! Tartan. Tats.”

The bird, confident that symbol solves

for self, takes a seat after Canal.

At Franklin, it’s good-bye to the bum, who rises      Franklin Street

with help from the hardy nuns, good-bye

to the quiet signers who nod and stand,

fire quiet hand-in-hand.

Riders, their rides ending or begun,                  Chambers Street

are off and on, fungible, one.

You, with your field glasses and guides,

you become everyone too, quietly beside

yourself in witless, wondering joy,

no longer alone, no longer on the way.

Ett Tag, Bir Tren,

Mmoja Treni, Een Trein

One: existing whole in a sphere,

a numen or essence and no more.

The reason? The reason being: yes,

the breath and brush of necessary witness,

superposition of drunk and dove,

an oracle, blue loafers, love

struck in fugitive communion, our close

going on the warm, coincident cars.