Onomatopoeia on the MTA (Subway Song)

Opening of "Somewhere", Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Sheila Moore working with dVerse Poets Pub has a wonderful poetics prompt on onomotopoeia today.  Boom!  A great excuse to escape from the heaviness that has characterized my recent posts.  (I am also linking this to Victoria C. Slotto’s poetry blog, liv2write2day, which has a prompt about music and words.)

The following is an old sonnet, posted before (sorry!), but somewhat revised.  I’m not sure that it quite qualifies as onomotopoeic poetry, but it does focus on sound, in this case an eerie music made by track and train car at certain subway stations on the IRT Lexington Avenue line.

“Somewhere” on the MTA

The subway sings its broken refrain:
the opening bars of “Theeeere’s aaa Plaaaace
For Us” from West Side Story.  The train
croons the first three notes as it leaves the dais
of the platform, the tune subsiding
then to squeak and wind and roar as we race
to a-harmonic levels, soon riding
at a speed without space for Bernstein’s trace
of tragic lovers defiant of fate
and family.  Yet…at every station…
there’s a plaace—again.  Who of those who wait
hear the song of that longed-for destination,
harmonic haven–beyond how, beyond where–
amazed that the Six Train nearly takes them there?


I am also linking this post to Gooseberry Garden’s Poetry Picnic.  (The prompt relates to NYTimes headlines–the subway? Hmmm…)

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13 Comments on “Onomatopoeia on the MTA (Subway Song)”

  1. Thomas Davis Says:

    A wonderful sonnet. I love sonnets.

  2. brian Says:

    ha i’d say yes you qualify….love the singing of that train..i am rather fond of the city sounds personally…this was very nice…

  3. David King Says:

    Owch! I was so taken up by the cleverness of what you’ve done that I completely missed the fact that it was a sonnet. Brilliance multiplied.

  4. claudia Says:

    love how you mingle bernstein with the subway…music in the everyday of commuting…nice..

  5. Bodhirose Says:

    I’ll never forget the high-pitched squealing of those subway trains in Boston…you took me back there with your wonderful post.

  6. Sheila Moore Says:

    this is wonderful! I especially love the “squeak and wind and roar as we race
    to a-harmonic levels.”

    thanks so much for taking the time to play with us today 🙂

  7. zongrik Says:

    you get a real sense on NYC in this, including the 6 train and Bernstein

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    I really like this. Conveys a great sense of sound and movement.

  9. Wow, Karin. I love this. I’m glad to have this experience (second hand) of the MTA. This is onomatopoeia the way it should be done.

  10. viv blake Says:

    Love it, love it, love it! I used to love the sounds of the London Underground.

  11. Taylor Says:

    amazing one, well done.


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