I’ve spent my whole life on trains, and most of my life writing. This project is an intersection of both experiences through a unique yet familiar format: Google Maps. Consider it “Poetry in Motion” for the next generation!
Each poem was written while riding specific trains. Simply select a “line” (by the title of the poem) to read each full piece OR read stop-by-stop (stanza-by-stanza) if you select the teardrop icons.
G Train Metamorphosis
She rushes on as the doors slide shut and sits haphazardly in the corner of the bench, bracing herself against metal bars. Watch as she unties her sneakers, pulls them off, lays them next to her on the empty seat, peels off her socks, stuffs them into her shoes Bedford/Nostrand She uncovers silver heels reflects the glaring light into her lap, places them on her feet Classon Her hair is pulled into a tight bun in one motion, she takes it down her face spreading out Clinton/Washington She pulls her contents inward presses her knees together unwraps layers until she’s left in an indigo dress Fulton Listen to her knuckles crack, popping in time with the sway of the train. She sighs, rolling her neck her skin tints a shimmery blue Hoyt/Schermerhorn An A train pulls in across the platform passengers weave in the carved doors and she is rolling her shoulders, making room for Bergen wings sprouting from her back (not that anyone has noticed) but they beat above her as her arms and legs retreat Carroll The doors bing open, and out she flies leaving her shredded cocoon of purse and clothing unattended on the paint-chipped G train bench
A new york feeling is when a man with an orange shopping cart that brims with trash bags enters your car of the F train and everyone has to collectively decide if smell outweighs the effort it would take to switch cars we watch while he ties his cart to the pole tosses his three jackets: 1 denim 1 leather 1 undetermined onto the bench, next to a sleeping woman sits on the floor, against the sliding doors and everyone wonders just for a moment what would happen if his cart slipped out the other end and everyone breathes in unison when he saunters off, taking his collection with him
I’m on the bridge going to canal st. and two people took our seats You may have said this but how did she find her? maybe inside the glass carousel box spinning to the rhythm of the river maybe beneath wise rocks who’ve seen what was before all this metal and smog and I’m just asking: does this sway you?
Ode to the Shuttle Train
Oh you shuttle train, you Underappreciated subway route, you Two-car-long, only-goes-four-stops, you Early morning protector of junkies and construction workers, you Grey-line-running, Sunrise-reflecting Bed-Stuy- Crown Heights- Prospect Lefferts- Flatbush- passing train, How I adore you You start each route Nearly colliding with Stained glass windows Too grease-ridden to filter sunlight anymore You peer over the edge into oncoming Franklin/Fulton intersection traffic I love how you take your time As I race up the pigeon-littered escalator The conductor hands me his good morning, before switching cars, making caboose suddenly lead No inequalities on the shuttle line— each car gets its turn Now away, to Park Place, surveying street after street And then slip underground to meet the 2/3/4/5 beneath the Botanic Gardens Pause again, flood, teeming now, then emerge let go your held breath Doors yawn Cargo releases Replace with new Conductor changes cars Gears reverse And you rewind back to Bed-Stuy Back to stained glass And escalators To Your rhythm, pattern Four stops Two cars One conductor Back and forth and back again
A poem for when the A goes over the F line and I don’t have to transfer
my infatuation with trains is to say that in my mind every possibility exists on a subway line is to say my thoughts lie in expired MetroCards is to say most of the space in my brain is taken up by which stops happen between Brooklyn and Queens how to get home when the 2 is running on the 6 line and the A isn’t stopping in Brooklyn and the F is going express maybe it’s just because I spend hundreds of hours leaning against sliding doors sliding into gently dimpled seats gently swaying in time to MTA announcements timing my life around trains yet I occupy myself trying to capture the feeling the essence the distillation of this New York City hallmark always collapsing back into the image of sunlight refracting through train windows bypassing the passengers inside
A few elements were at play during the process of working on “Empty-A.” A month or two before QWERTY was due, my mentor Emma suggested I create something related to maps, as I am slightly obsessed with them. I am also someone who has a love/hate relationship with the MTA, and I do most of my writing on the train or bus. Though It took me a while to find a platform for this project, Google Maps allowed me to create my own map while bringing poetry into the experience.