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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Subway Poem #1

This is my first attempt to spin my subway experiences and observations into poetry.  A Coney Island of the Mind? Somehow, a Bay Ridge of the Mind doesn't have the same ring-a-ding-ding to it, does it?
Yet this is not a fledgling effort. I got off many a poem in my wild and misspent youth. I even was first runner-up for the Paterson Public Library's coveted William Carlos Williams poetry award one year. As I recall, only the winner received cash. It was chump change anyhow.

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg hails from Paterson. His path intertwined with mine several times, both in NJ and Colorado, though we never actually met. His father, Louis Ginsberg, was a respected poet and also my mother's high school English teacher. They didn't get along. Consequently, she did not receive a very good grade from him.

My favorite American poets are Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, anyway. Though, some day, I may mix Ginsberg's "Howl" to a dance beat. I am also a Beat poet in the sense that I was pretty beat when I composed this at rush hour, coming home on the subway.

So, desperate to entertain "by any means necessary," as Jean Paul Sartre said, famously quoted by Malcolm X, my poem follows. (You'll have to imagine the bongos in the background of that Coney Island of your mind.)

Subway Poem #1

giggling girls with
unsightly hair
in tattered gowns
from yesteryear
wrapped up in their personal joy
on orange vinyl subway chairs.
envy is irony, i declare,
their gossip, laughter in the air
of the stifling, sterile, smothering car;
my peephole from the underworld.