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CLOSE / Parnassiad

Peace and Other Stories

Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life

A Subway Driver's Lament
by Marc Sobel  /  poetry  /  10 Aug 2007

Delayed less than five minutes,

And already the flock squirms behind closed doors

Restless, agitated,

Pounding with helpless fists against unrelenting steel

I am frozen, listening from my cell, disgusted

That such restrained fury lingers just underneath

The thin veil of politeness


Do I trigger their cages and release them,

Like animals into the wild?

Why do I do this, day after day,

The thankless monotony, the endless back and forth

I am a fractured pendulum, buried alive,

Swiping desperately at the bowels of the city

Through tunnels infested with rats and trash and decades of filth


Yet this button I hover over,

Like a wicked puppeteer, fingers bound with string,

Controls the fate of thousands

That sweaty mass of businessmen, teenagers and derelicts

Fumbling angrily with their overpriced accessories

What if I leave them there, rotting like fruit in the Sun,

For hours, for days, for weeks?


These people,

Whose fate hinges on the flick of a switch,

Wait like savages to tear me to shreds,

What if I flip the lever

And run the signals,


Brakes screaming

Steel dragging against steel

In that instant

I am their God.

And their prayers for mercy are to me.


But, like always, I am too weak

And though I know well the storm that rages just over the horizon

Still I hurdle myself headlong into the tempest

And release the doors.


- artwork by Leontine Greenberg -

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