POEM 040/100

November 8, 2012

Whenever the train enters a tunnel

I can see silver fingerprints on the black window


Maybe I’ll get drunk tonight

POEM 039/100

November 7, 2012

Directly in front of me

is a vacant subway seat


I long to feel that way


POEM 023/100

July 8, 2012

It must say something about this city—

I only find solitude

reading a book

on the subway

Things you see in the subway station

September 8, 2010

Three maintenance workers in orange vests are attempting to release the girl from the stainless steel cage. She’s trapped inside the St. Clair subway station turnstile gate. She wouldn’t be trapped if she hadn’t somehow managed the improbable act of bringing her blue bicycle halfway inside with her.  Two of the men are working with tools and the third appears to simply be talking to the girl, keeping her laughing, maybe trying to keep her from descending into a hysterical episode fueled by panic and embarrassment.

Things you see on two separate subway cars

May 20, 2010

1 : The voice coming over the speakers of the TTC subway car announces a service disruption between Jane and Islington stations. There are, however, shuttle busses running, never a comfortable alternative to the already barely comfortable transit experience.

Yet the train is still nine or ten stops away so none of the passengers seem overly concerned. Most likely their stop is either far in advance of Jane or they’re confident, however naively, the problem will be cleared before long.

About a half-dozen faces, perhaps less, express a resigned chagrin at the situation—they are probably in for the long-haul to Kipling at the end-of-the-line and have a realistic expectation the disruption will not be cleared any time soon, based on previous experiences when a shuttle-bus was involved.

Still, no one is outwardly concerned. Except one young man.

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TwitFic #9: AWOL

February 19, 2010

Asleep, buffeted by the twin silver waves of the subway tracks, her head bobs on her uniform’s blue shoulders like a buoy on the dark sea. It’s almost seven bells and evening, judging by the sky’s hue whenever the train breaches the surface.

She’s slept through her watch again.
It’s not a cause for panic. She’s set herself a drift in a landlocked city in order to sleep. This is her third day sleeping on the subway. Twice a day she’s watched human tides roll in and out of the car, swirling like frothing eddies around a beached whale. Around her.
A thought washes upon her: When the whole world is an ocean, there’s no going AWOL from yourself.

Things you see on the escalator

November 10, 2009

The old man at the foot of the escalator gripped the moving handrail. He’d take a step, move his hand up and it would slide down with the backward movement of the black rubber. As his feet took a step up and forward, the metal stairs would move down and backward. He was remaining absolutely stationary while climbing the escalator the wrong direction.

People were craning their necks to watch him, muttering to each other speculations of whether he was confused or crazy. He had a look of determined concentration which lead me to believe his action  was intended. He was using the escalator as a Stair-Master. He was not confused or senile, but people might have been correct to speculate he was a bit crazy.

Just before getting on the train, I looked back to check on his progress. He was still in the same spot but an audience had formed a circle around him.

Things you see when your ride the TTC

October 1, 2009

At Dundas West station a young black woman got on the train. She was wearing huge sunglasses which covered most of her face. No one paid much attention to her. Not until she was suddenly howling with grief.

At first it was hard to tell if she was laughing or crying as she had her head buried in her lap pressing a cellphone to her ear. When she raised her head, it was clear that tears were shaking her body. The source of her grief seemed to be the cellphone conversation—the train is above ground on that stretch of the route—but if there was anyone on the other end, they were doing all the talking.

As the woman bellowed her pain, people began to give her sideways glances. They seemed unsure it was a genuine display of emotion. It was the sort of grief one normally only sees in movies when an unhinged widow throws herself on the coffin. She appeared to be one step away from rending her garments or tearing out her hair. She rocked back and forth in her seat wailing and clenching her fingers.

One person several seats away asked, “What’s wrongwith that woman?” but nobody approached her. She was left alone with her drama. The only time another passenger reached out to her was when a scowling and heavily wrinkled woman with scraggly grey haired piled under a scarf  poked her on the shoulder. She did not ask her if she needed assistance but instead made a hand motion that said, “Quiet down. You’re making too much noise.”

Her crying continued for several stops and I assume continued long after I got off at Runnymede.

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