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                                                                          Issue 8

Page 32

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Taking the F train


long before I knew there was an F train, I heard it
rumbling through our three-room apartment
the moment my father got home from work.
Every night he took it to the end of the line,
my mother silently beside him as it made
local stops at every grievance he had
starting with a country whose promises
teased him out of Russia into one failed
business venture after another, managers
whose voices whipped down so fast--
he’d seen horses treated better--
the cost of each complaint carefully
weighed, how much to support a wife
and two kids----
the cost of being alive: last stop.

In the morning he got up and
took the BMT to work. Nobody
in those old Brooklyn neighborhoods
could afford to take the F train during the day.
Poor, working class, immigrants living
rent controlled lives someone else owned.


The first F train I was on ran silently
along the same line as my father’s;
I didn’t know it when I said
I’d never, packed my bags and moved
near the only subway close by

passed my own give ‘em hell stops
on those unmapped stations between
East Broadway & Delancey, 2nd Avenue.
& Broadway-Lafayette, the train crawling along
except when it didn’t: the conductor
announces signal problems: I’m stuck
telling someone off over & over till


the train starts to move again,
I get to my stop, and begin my, that’s ok
to those when it isn’t
the 9—5 every day all day, that’s ok, till
I’m back on the F train, now

a scared teenager no longer ignoring
a man’s hand beneath me in a movie theatre
a co-worker’s unwanted hand
someone’s watch it finger pointed at me
I point away, those, it’s for your own good
words, I ignore, my father’s,
you just can’t do whatever you like in life
I throw back at him


and keep going on and off
the same F train that jerks me around
every weekend, sometimes with a big D, E or
M on it to throw me off, or doesn’t come at all
forcing me to take an A to the J
find where it’s rerouted by whatever
circuitous path, take it and that’s
when everything becomes NOT OK and


I’m riding past where my father’s train stopped;
to get where I want to go, I don’t get off
and get there just in time every time

“Thank God for the F Train*”

*By Ben Sidran
(From the album, Picture Him Happy, released
Jan. 17, 2017)

  Linda Lerner __

© Patricia Carragon: Frida Watching Over Us

             © Patricia Carragon: Frida Watching Over Us

How it is

A masked man comes to the door
I see him from the peephole
go out and quickly hand him
a large green bag, tomorrow, I say,
he nods, no other words
I rush back inside

A neighbor opens her door a crack
shaking her head. I motion
what choice do I have,
she shrugs and shuts her door.

The streets are quiet, a few people
walk hurriedly by armed with fear.
Fights break out in people’s eyes
who get too close, back off
in time. Sometimes not.

We don’t see bullets strike us
any blood, so we keep on
until we can’t, become one of
the missing.

have you heard from
someone says, no, you… not on fb
maybe he’s just taking
a break… I heard the same
about… stop, you know better
we all do, and keep going, eyes averted

till we’re safe at home watching
people being massacred in
another country; it was like that
at first. The fourth wall in tact
before our death broke it

  Linda Lerner __


A Number

I open windows to shut off
a fire alarm set off by my oven
turned on after years: what
I can’t do is shut off sirens ringing
non-stop through my nap-like sleep
soon disrupted by another alarm from an
arrogant someone directed to lead
my “cohort” at work in this emergency;
several e mails sent to make sure
I know, in language I don’t understand
meant to impress and warn:
furious for allowing him

to detract me from the enormity of
what’s happing am thrown back by
hourly news alerts: rapidly changing numbers
a death toll past what my mind can grasp
flash to moments before people became
a number, every breath struggling not
to slip off this earth every breath
I take not to be included
thankful someone I wish
were here with me now
no longer is

  Linda Lerner __