another love poem to the CTA

I'd been trying to write a poem about work, a dense little thing in sapphics, but it didn't fly. So I said to myself, Self, you haven't done anything in freeverse in just months and months. It came out pretty well. There's a couple swears, so be warned if you don't like swears.

Lullabye wheels scrape tracks, and I watch sparks
ricochet off the concrete. I love them.
A man sits to my left, rocks; he sneezes
at demons. I wish I could tell him,
"you tell 'em, man. fuck 'em."

I'm in love with the train and the tunnels
it travels, the spiderwebs of rusted iron
that keep it off the street.
Run my fingers across and the metal flakes off.
Park my ass on the floor of the platform;
it sucks up my heat.

I don't care if it makes me a sweet fool,
a naive fool. I'm that nice crazy lady
that buskers and beggars look on with fond pity,
don't know what to say to me.
In my dreams I recreate them, impersonate them--
whistle and tapdance while playing the banjo;
dance the robot, my silver hands just so.

And there through the dim space behind me
the cold city's blood flows.

Yes, we kick the bums out of the stations at night,
and the subway performers' first act
is red tape acrobatics, streetwise mathematics.
Yes, all that we're trying to do
is come out in the black
at the bottom of some balance sheet.
So deep beneath the city streets, steel wheels
still carry us, sing to us, flow with us
into the darkness that only swallows.

We are blood, heat sucked out by stone,
bone borne forward in steel. All we feel
is the moan of cold metal on metal. It rocks us
to sleep, then jerks us back awake
as it bleats, "doors. closing."

But under the bleats and the sneezes
the rhythm resolves, as the passengers trudge to the top.
Sway, shiver, whatever--you are the cold blood
of my city. You're moving. Keep moving. Don't stop.


Anonymous said...


Fiat Lex said...

Why thank you, whoever you are. :D

The Everlasting Dave said...

I agree, this is awesome.

Amber E said...

I love trains however the state of infrastructure in Chicago would tend to lead to a wry fondness. Excellent poetry as always.