The Subway in the Small Hours

I wake to warp speed; green steel supports me.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please; sounds like an orderly’s plea.
A church bell chimes, the doors latch like a room in an asylum.
Brakes a beast; yellow piss makes the rubber flooring nylon.
In the corner of my car, a shopping cart with crinkled bags,
colorful rags, flags, newspapers, mags, a person’s pride
bangs against a bundle of blankets, dirty flesh folded neatly inside.
A chalky hand dangling off the Crush orange bench.
I stick to the devout stanchion, unsure about the stench,
and at this hour, I could be Bedlam’s star pole dancer.
The car sways on its sedative; reflections stretch–

we’re both disasters,
waiting for the lights to blink, for our next drinks in the ever after.
Red cola can crosses the floor, dented a million times,
but it’ll cross forevermore
as we head into a man-made cave, straight-jacket grave,
the swaying, hissing snake of madness.
I look back on nothing.

© khartless 2022, All Rights Reserved

Late Night Poets-January 25th show inspired by the works of Kenneth Slessor. Join us.

The Night Ride by Kenneth Slessor
Gas flaring on the yellow platform; voices running up and down;
Milk-tins in cold dented silver; half-awake I stare,
Pull up the blind, blink out – all sounds are drugged;
the slow blowing of passengers asleep;
engines yawning; water in heavy drips;
Black, sinister travelers, lumbering up the station,
one moment in the window, hooked over bags;
hurrying, unknown faces – boxes with strange labels –
all groping clumsily to mysterious ends,
out of the gaslight, dragged by private Fates,
their echoes die. The dark train shakes and plunges;
bells cry out, the night-ride starts again.
Soon I shall look out into nothing but blackness,
pale, windy fields, the old roar and knock of the rails
melts in dull fury. Pull down the blind. Sleep. Sleep
Nothing but grey, rushing rivers of bush outside.
Gaslight and milk-cans. Of Rapptown
I recall nothing else


  1. I was also going to quote the line that Jeff did – the repetition of sounds, etc is really striking. This piece is a great evocation of the subway experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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