The Schmooze

POEM: 'Return From Elsewhere'

Don’t yell at me,
whisper: try to stop

I let him drink from me
I let him speed us up to the end

to extremes I couldn’t imagine—

(these are words
that cannot be written)

At the 7th Avenue station

drained and soiled
I forgot

what any child knows by heart

I couldn’t read the signs
it was late

I panicked

Where do you live, lady?

from the subway tunnel
a deep voice spoke to me

through the bars

dark, in shadows,

it should have scared me

but only an angel could have known
I was lost

I needed a ticket
he needed some change

(or was he there for another reason)

he swiped his card
guided me through the turnstile

I thanked him,
almost forgot to pay him

turned and went in the wrong direction

Where do you live, lady?

he shook his head, pointed up the stairs, across
and down—

he watched as I walked away

waited till I was safe
on the other side

and waved.

From “Return From Elsewhere” (Outriders Poetry Project, 2014)

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POEM: 'Return From Elsewhere'

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