Poem From The Woman Sitting Across From Me On The Subway

Poem From The Woman Sitting Across From Me On The Subway

Look at this boy looking at me.
Tossing his eyes so secret-like.
Like I don’t see him each time
I look up from my book, pretending
he’s embarrassed to be caught.
This is not a game of cat and mouse,
boy, I just want to see how close we are
to Canal so I can get off.

Stop

trying to see what book I’m reading.
No, you probably have not read it. No,
it is not exciting that we both like books.
Stop taking all your books
out of your backpack to show me
that you have them, it does not
look like you’re organizing. It looks
like you’re trying to show me all your books.

Boy,

why are you wearing those bags
under your eyes so proudly? Why
neck cracking like a mating call? We
are all tired. All beat. Your legs
are not more sore than anyone else’s.
It is still okay that you did not offer
your seat to anyone, this is New York,
but don’t think you deserve it.

Hey,

they call it stealing glances because
I’m not looking to give them away.
When our eyes just met, it was not
a cute mistake. I was staring
to fucking intimidate you into looking
at somebody else. And
I saw you fix your hair in the reflection
of the train. Making it the

“right”

kind of messy. I’ve got my finger on the trigger
of your intimacy now, don’t I? You let it slip.
The way you made sure your hair was flat
on the sides and double checked the cross
of your legs. You wont ever say anything.
I can smell pent up pick-up lines
on your breath, you’ve been holding
them in your mouth for that long.

Look,

I don’t want that one-way ticket
to your day dream. This is not a poem.
This is the N train. I’ve got places to be
and no time for the type of silence
your kind deals in. And anyways,
I do not need wooing. My heart
does not need the keys you hope
to shape for it. Some of us

don’t

keep our hearts chained.
So erase all of this. Put away the pen.
I’m just someone on the subway. Not
the vehicle for your epiphany. Not
the photo thumb-tacked inside your
heart locker. I do not need
to be written about to be whole.
And anyways, I don’t need help with that.

You do.

the essence in the flesh

how many freezing winds has winter breathed in this man’s face to carve lines so finger deep? and when did these twisted, ashen roots spring forth to replace his fingers? these could not be the fingers of his youth. even young man’s hands do not play claw as well as these. it is these claws that must have filled his mouth with hay. his voice is thick with paper, kicking out of his throat with every bullet sentence.

still, he is the cardboard delivery man who looks the most like a cardboard delivery man. his coat, his hat, his boots, are the clothes of his profession. the snow knows to ignore shoulders sloped like his, the cold has given up its assault on his toes. his hands, twisted as they are, lift and push the cardboard as if we were meant to watch this. and his voice, grappling its way down the shotgun of his throat, barks orders so efficient we begin to learn dance like him.

under his strict guidance, the back of the truck blazes and we all turn lightbulb, so fast are we firing cardboard onto the dock and into the warehouse. the cold turns around and goes home. our aching arms stop creaking so loud. our grease remembers what it is here for. it takes mere minutes to empty the truck, so cardboard delivery man is this delivery man.

when he goes home, does he keep everything on the counter in order to avoid opening a single box? does his wife massage lotion into his shriveling skin? does he throw off his beaten clothes and drape himself in furs? I imagine instead that he sleeps on a stack of cardboard. that he loves the smell. that he knows he is the best, and proudly teaches his child grace, waltzing boxes back and forth across the living room.

and if he ever dies, and I wonder if it is possible, I imagine him buried in a box made of cardboard. I imagine

he would want it that way.