Subway Window


Subway Window

Old as a large lizard
and more cold, poverty
stalks the subway, careful
of the closing doors.

Older than a large lizard–
but it does not mind
the new bare-fangled, the evolved

So, the person whose body humps
like a triceratops turned on its side
just across from me
wears fake Crocs,
rimmed by the gaudy with which
manufacturers often brand
the cheap;

track pants of some newly-minted
fabric that, like the still-gilled climbing out
from undersea, doesn’t breathe right,
nor armor against the whip of wind chill,
at least a heavy coat, rumpled thick
as a hide;

but then protruding from khaki cuffs, I see nails
painted navy, and something about
their clasp of the bunched creases
of knuckle, lets me know she’s a woman.

And though she never turns
her head, lets anyone see
what’s beneath the ruffed hood–
still, the face of the face I trace,
a side of cheek roughed
by metal salt skies,
shows telltale softness.

I’d like to share something–
a smile, shrug, some complaint
about the crush, but she stays resolutely squared
towards the back of the car,

I try to see if she looks out
its bleared window, about
a foot away, out
to the flashes of darkness we flee
as we speed into
new darkness,
but what she sees
is very hard to tell
from where I’m sitting.


Here’s a belated draft poem for Kerry O’ Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads about Age and Youth, and also Bjorn Brudberg’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub about de-familiarization.   The pic doesn’t really go, but there you have it!  


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15 Comments on “Subway Window”

  1. Steve King Says:

    For me, this is an observation on identity and being. It’s hard for me to imagine a place more communal than the subway…yet you must painstakingly discover this individual through your descriptions of the bits and pieces of her that come into your view. You discover what is before you, but the “who” remains hidden. She’s part of your world, but it’s impossible to see which dimensions she is viewing or sharing, if any. You’ve managed to fill the empty space between you with drama.

    I like very much what you’ve done here.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Steve. I mean, of course, for poverty itself to be what is old and stalking, and not any particular person.

      I’ve had little time to write lately and so get tremendously tentative and uncertain of myself. Your comment is so kind and affirming–very much appreciated.

      On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 3:38 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  2. Anonymous Says:

    This poem perfectly shows how a poet may take a chance meeting and fill it with nuance and meaning. I really love how you worked the words in this short extract, especially the ‘metal salt skies’:

    still, the face of the face I trace,
    a side of cheek roughed
    by metal salt skies,
    shows telltale softness.

  3. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This poem perfectly shows how the poet may take a chance meeting and fill it with nuance and meaning. i especially like the way you worked the words here:

    still, the face of the face I trace,
    a side of cheek roughed
    by metal salt skies,
    shows telltale softness.

    I love the metal salt skies, such a condensed image!

  4. I find the subway a place where you can freely fantasize about the stories other carry with them..I love the detail in which you describe your fellow passenger.. and just like you we imagine the story she bears in with her appearance.. Personally one thing with subways is that I tend to see people mostly in reflection.. I look out the dark windows and see them there.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. That somehow feels truer on the train for me. We are so jam packed in the city subways and the windows are behind the sears and rather low that it does not seem so easy to see faces. Here I mean an end window , but I do know exactly what you mean. Thanks for interesting prompt, Bjorn. K.


  5. claudia Says:

    but what she sees
    is very hard to tell
    from where I’m sitting…. i love this one k.
    we can never really see what others do… a different seat, a different life… love how you describe her and that brush of connection… it’s so important that we see others, even if we cannot see what they see

  6. wolfsrosebud Says:

    the depth in this is beautiful with many underline thoughts… so hard to know what another person is going though until we get close enough

  7. So many descriptive observations, yet there is still a mystery here. I really like this.

  8. Some of my best memories are from riding the NY subway, the T in Boston, and the tube in London, along with the spring I rode trains all over the UK. I found a new “me” watching and meeting fellow passengers. Never did I meet anyone like the person you described here, but I did come to know a world that would never pass before my suburban Texas door. I almost thought I had become a “rail rider” for life and have missed it every day since. A very discerning piece and adroitly fulfills the prompt!

  9. mhwarren Says:

    There’s such a sense of otherness in this, a tentative wanting to know and some conjecture of what might be but just inknowable in the end

  10. Susan Says:

    Those subway windows work so much better as vague mirrors of the souls facing them–from where each sits. Yet I applaud the attempts of this voice to see the person encased in hood and stolidness. Beautiful poem.

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