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commute

it is ​early morning

on freezing brooklyn​ streets

under a gray​ sky

beside crooked brown stained tenements

there ​are​ human shapes

leaning against the cold​

moving quickly

towards the train station ​

on the bleak horizon

the fallen snow

that ​had covered everything ​

in a soft white bing crosby

christmas song ​ ​

now became

hard sharp shards

of dirty​ ice

on wooden crates ​

rotting garbage ​

dead cats​

somewhat ​exposed ​

and at each crossing ​

torrents of freezing flowing slush ​

ankle deep

blocked the way ​

wind cut through my thin coat​

​frozen water ​and blowing snow

slid down my neck

from the ​fire escapes above​

I heard the train ​

approaching the elevated station ​

rockaway ave

in a roar of shaking tracks

showers of sparks

in clouds of blowing snow

and the screeching of brakes

on metal wheels ​

I fought against the numbing cold

and ​earsplitting​ sounds ​

to get there in time ​

my heart pounded

the thought of missing that train

and waiting for the next

on a freezing station platform ​ was crazy​​

the train roared into the station

that was packed

with shaking bodies

when the doors slid open

we pushed into the cars

against the crowd of people

already inside

no one said anything

no sounds of anger ​

just​ groans of resignation

bodies in heavy winter coats

pressed against each other ​ ​

staring at nothing

hiding really​

​looking​ like a boxcar to Auschwitz ​​

and the numbing cold became

a hot ​stinking​ stench

when the doors ​slammed​ shut

I ​ dimly ​ hoped for a pretty ​girl ​

or a heavily breasted woman ​

to lean up against ​

the lights blinked on and off

as the car​ jerked forward ​

then stopped ​

sliding doors slammed open again​

then ​slammed​ shut

someone stuck in the door​

the train lurched ​again​ ​

shuddered ​ ​

stopped​

the doors opened and shut again

then it roared away

the person was inside

I hoped

screeching screaming shuddering cars

lurched around a wide turn

throwing all those

without a strap ​to hold on to

against walls

doors

poles

each other

on ​the ​people sitting

curses

​moans​ heard

the train shuddered into

a chattering glide ​​

as it approached the next station

I saw through the ​train​ window ​ ​

what looked like every jew in brownsville ​​

on the platform waiting

but there was no room inside

the doors slammed open

in anger

it sounded like

the ​ new​ crowd

shoved pushed grappled

fought​ their way inside

I couldn't move

barely breathe

and for sure ​now​

the doors ​could​ never close

but they did

with people stacked

like ​chopped wood

the subway train hurtled forward

swooped down into a tunnel

all the lights went off

the roaring shaking banging​

and screeching ​

became more intense

as the sound bounced

off the tunnels tile walls

​I stood in the darkness

expecting to die ​

with everyone

stuck against each other

in our winter coats sweaters hats

no one said anything

this is the way it is

to get to work

why complain

who would listen anyhow

this is the way it is


-RB