Sunday, April 15, 2012

City Sub-Texts

Feel the Beat

To know the pulse that beats
beneath the streets, the trains
that flow through blackened veins—
one must discover the world
awaiting through the gates,
past the turnstiles, down the stairs.
Mingle the crowds…breath the air …
pungent, offensive; assails the senses—
residuum of 5 million that
swarm this maze every day.

The dirt, the grit, the true city awaits--
          just below the surface

©  Ginny Brannan April 2012

Under the Hustle and Bustle 

Stepping out of the bright sun
to enter the subterranean
world under The Garden,
Get a ticket, find the gate;
maneuver the maze of halls
and stairs down to the platform.
Train stops: bodies off, bodies on,
Commuters, a strange breed,
heads down, read a book, read
a newspaper; whatever happens,
don’t make eye contact.
Train starts, slowly speeds up,
rocking and swaying on the tracks

New York City, Center of the Universe.
From here head north to the Bronx
riding the el past the war zone of
boarded-up, graffiti-laced buildings.
Or east to Brooklyn, Queens, the Rockaways.
Or maybe south, through Little Italy,
Chinatown, to Battery Park --
emotions still grip in the
shadow of buildings long gone.

To ride the subway is to experience
the world incognito, to become one in
a nameless, faceless crowd…
where people-watching is the norm
(as long as you don’t make eye contact)

© Ginny Brannan April 2012

*Images Wikipedia Penn Station
Written for and sharing at d'Verse Poets Poetics: Subway 4/15/12


  1. smiles...with some people i love to have eye contact while riding the subway...esp. with kids..a little smile, a shared moment before the doors slide open again..the true city awaits below the surface..i like..

  2. Two beauties. I have to say I preferred "Feel the Beat", a little gem of a poem, but I also greatly enjoyed Under the Hustle and Bustle.

  3. ha...both are coll...the second only grabs me for the names of places and things i can attach personally to them...from when i tripped incognito...smiles...the flow of the first is very nice....

  4. I recognize those places in NYC...I agree about the subway ride, we blend to be incognito and not try to make eye contact. And yes, there is a world under those tunnels and hallways..its crazy but its part of our humdrum life ~

  5. Well, one does have to get from point A to point B, it seems and your pictures in words of these capsules into and out of darkness are greatly appreciated. They bring back many memories, though providing that big picture view that captures the grand scheme of the city and its dark and bright contours.

  6. Having never been to "the city", this is almaot frightening to me (and I ain't skeert a nuthin!). I don't do crowds well, and can't imagine being packed into a steel tube with a bunch of strangers then plunged into a tunnel under the ground! And your description of the people makes them seem so cold and distant; it gives one the feeling that everyone is afraid of everyone else. Nice write, Victoria!

    1. So sorry, Ginny! I wasn't paying attention; AGAIN!

    2. Oh! And the comment was meant for your poem! (typos and all!) almaot = almost

  7. you are one with the faceless crowd, but yoiu don't forget yourself

    alive on subway senryu

  8. Both are fantastic takes on the prompt...but the first sings a little bit louder for me ;)

  9. Two very different styles here. Love the variance you present. I enjoyed both, but have to say I loved the first one. The quick stop start rapid fire nature, not only came out very nicely, but it also resembled the tracks beneath the subway and the on/off nature of the stops, a true metaphor in itself. Thanks

  10. First poem was great and I loved the rhythm and rhyme And the way you describe the subway system as blackened veins- great metaphor for a living and breathing city with the subway carrying it's lifeblood from place to place. The second poem was similar- and I enjoyed still the free form verse- mostly I enjoyed the way you closed it- 'not making eye contact'- so so true- particularly in the UK (not sure if you've ever been on the underground - but you couldn't just talk to someone- they'd smash your face in! So your poem actually does capture this bizarre and sad human phenomenon! Loving your work Ginny

  11. transport and transportation vividly described. the second one is second only to the first one and the totality reminds me of hazy nights in New York town. When the reins of the eyes steer the course of the heart then you dont fear the grapple with the Big Apple. Poems reread not for analysis but for pleasure. Magic.

  12. Thank you all for your thoughts and comments. Just a post-script:
    "Under the Hustle and Bustle" the one I composed first from my own memories of riding Amtrak, the L.I.R.R., the subway into and around NYC. All rails converge at Penn Station under Madison Square Garden. For this country girl, it the one thing that stuck with me was how no one really looked each other in the eye.
    Then because I tend to be too "wordy," I thought I'd consolidate and rearrange the idea, use a little word play with internal rhyming, and composed "Feel the Beat," also my favorite for the flow of the words and the brevity. Shared both as each says something a little bit different.


Thank you for reading my poetry and sharing your thoughts.