Escaping Sardines

 
Accosted. The intercom crackles and bites
As the conductor repeats his incomprehensible
heinous announcement over and over, like Chinese
torture.
I try to translate: Brooklyn Subway service is stopping
At 30 something Street.
All must switch to another
Line or the shuttle.

Holy Hell, I’m from out of town, exhausted.
From a day on the mean streets of Manhattan.
Why oh, why oh, did I ever leave Ohio?
I don’t know from the shuttle. What line am I on now?
I just arrived today.
I’m in Brooklyn house sitting for a friends two cats.
This is god’s Manhattan gratitude?

I usually live my life
In quiet desperation
On the back of a used envelop.
Writing my life’s direction there on
Recyclable paper. With a pencil.

According to my confused new
iPhone-app-understanding
My ride is supposed to end at 79th Street or Bay Ridge.
My plan is simple: take whichever comes first.

I don’t believe in math or god or smart phone apps.
Still I’m praying this conductor’s proclamation
Means nothing to me getting home tonight to cats.

A glance at the clouded sky
From the subway cave,
I see the full orange October orb rising.
Thank god I don’t believe
In signs, superstitions or calamitis coincidences.

A handsome Afro American father holds his three year old son,
As the child twists his baseball cap
Backward and then does the same
To his father’s cap. Matching. Laughing.
Isn’t this a touch of life? Of sweet reality?

No. Not for me. My bad karma rages on.
My prayers go unanswered,
As this convoy comes to a grinding tired
Screeching jerking halt.
My car empties like
Canned sardines set free in the ocean’s flow.

The conductor gives a final benediction.
His final garbled plea comes over the intercom.
Shocking,
These Brooklynites,
these natives
understand and respond.
The shut down starts at 10 PM.
In the town that never sleeps.
I’m lost at 10:05,
In this rush of battered humanity.

I take a breath.
Thanks to Easton Mountain’s
Freeing Ritual
Ingrained on my brain.

A simple idea comes
Bubbling up

I will appeal to the person in the subway
Booth. She will answer my prayers.

The urge to kneel
And confess my sins sweeps over me.
I explain my predicament.
She says, “You are mistaken, Honey.
There ain’t no shuttle.
The subway is runnin’ fine.
Go back downstairs and get on the
R train line.
Who told you it wasn’t
Working?” She frowns, as I repeat
My conductors confusing story.
She calls a higher source
On the phone.
She frowns again and puts
The phone down. She’s not going to be
Tripped up by that answer.
She’s not to be questioned.
This priestess repeats
Her direction for me to return downstairs.
She even buzzes the electric gate, so I get a free ride.
(To hell, I think? )
She’s absolutely right,
till I get to the stair well
And see hundreds of New Yorkers
adjusting, cramming, complaining.
Crawling Over each other like bleary awakened snakes.
Time for another breath,
I slowly descend, cautiously
with a dumb founded look
On my face.
At the bottom of the stairs
I see two men. One wearing a blousie
Top of polyester silk and leopard skin print.
Has he attempted to wipe lip stick and mascara off his face?

His partner is wearing a purple bandanna
Around his neck. Does that mean code?
Would a straight guy ever make this choice?
I’m ashamed of my up tight – out of town thoughts.
They give me a cursory glance
From the corner of their eyes. Yet
Simple enough to know I need help.
Without further introduction
They ask where I’m going? And oh, yes,
Mr. Against Coincidences, they are headed in the
Same direction. They will look after me,
“Follow us.”

The first stage is to crowd
Onto this waiting subway.
They warn Me,
“we will also have to deal with a jam packed
Damn Shuttle.”
They’ve been on this ride before.
It ain’t pretty.

As we climb aboard
I notice Mr. Leopard Print is dragging
Along a guitar case. I say,
“You must be a performer.”
“Oh, my dear, dear friend, I’m more than that.”

He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out
A postcard of a photo of a woman with bushels of red hair
And the date of her coming show.
They have just come from
Their weekly spiritual course of miracles.
I glance at the card. I know less about drag queens
Than I know about the NY subway system.
There is no
App for my ignorance.
But these guys,
These strangers who have saved me from the hell
Of Brooklyn are two that
I sorta know.
We were at the same
Men’s retreat a year or so ago.
I didn’t recognize them out
Of costume and makeup.
Reverend Yolanda performed at Easton Mountain!
I take another breath

So now, now
I’m feeling very rescued.
And oddly grateful
That there has come to be
This, this Subway-R-Train Goddess
Fulfilling my erotic
wants and desires
To get home
And feed my friend ‘s
Two cats.