Two Paths (Metro)(poem)

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Two Paths (Metro)

by Jack M. Freedman

“This is a Brooklyn-bound F Local Train. The next stop is…West 4th Street-Washington Square. Stand clear of the closing doors please.”

Sixteen stops between

14th Street and Ditmas Avenue

Is it a coincidence

that the 14th Street Station

on 6th Avenue

showcases the letters F-M-L

proving also that fuckery

is as easy as 1-2-3?

It reminds me of how

Delancey Street-Essex Street

prominently features my initials

J-M-F with the occasional ability to catch Z’s

Every subway ride has a story

Mine is a track with two paths

Empath and sociopath

Two distinct personalities

ride on opposite sides

of a mind going off the rails

They make me wonder

If I’ll ever take the B

to Brighton Beach on a whim

just to be somewhere far away

even for an hour

Or whether I’ll bypass Ditmas on the F

and find Coney Island in places

far more sophisticated than

aspects of my psyche


Or whether catching

a Manhattan-bound Q

at Sheepshead Bay

lets me find words

within alphabetic avenues

scattered through Midwood

Or whether I will still

be embraced by the R

whether bound for MetroTech

or Union Square

Or whether the first five cars on the 1

would trap me in a maze of dyscalculia

Or whether I would take the 7 somewhere

other than Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue

Or whether I would take the 6

and travel back to City Island

Or whether the L will connect me

to my favorite artist congregations of Brooklyn:

Williamsburg

Greenpoint

Bushwick

Park Slope

Or whether I have a job

requiring me to take the

R-A-G to Brooklyn Navy Yard

Or whether I’ll ever see a dinosaur skeleton

after a long ride on the C

Or whether I’ll once again

take the D to Central Park

Or whether I’ll visit Briarwood

taking the E from Ground Zero

like my mother and father once before

Or whether Bay Ridge

still welcomes me

after a long ride on the N

Or whether I’ll ever see

controversial art exhibits

getting off the 2 or 3

at the Brooklyn Museum

Or whether Bowling Green Station

will make me feel less claustrophobic

before I catch the 4 or 5

Or whether the W

is the best train to take

after leaving South Ferry

I’ve ridden every train but the M

for no destination I’ve reached

relied on that letter

I’m still asleep

when the Z runs

It’s still a mystery

if I ever rode any of the Shuttles

Subways are transitions

which alter consciousness

with every transfer

Lines come full circle

and there are diamonds

buried within round trips

Just as I’ve experimented

with altering my state of mind

with plants and fungi containing rainbows

Such has been the case

with the subway

This poem is an alchemy of adversity

expressed in verses I will cross-reference

in MLA, 8th Edition some other time

I am actively taking my trauma

and transmuting it into precious memories

I am finally in a place where I am affirmed

the love between me and New York

is one that is mutual

And whether or not

the alphanumeric spotlights

come in various colors

I am hoping that my role

as a grey wizard

isn’t a haze for rays

And though I was diagnosed as bipolar

I am grateful to exist between dichotomies

Baruch HaShem Bli Ayin Hara

I am grateful

Allow me to reach a middle path

and let me continue to

infuse justice

in the words I

continue to express

May my split personalities

merge in a place where

I can explore myself

with a split-infinitive

To boldly go

anywhere

I can find peace

-Jack M. Freedman (Jacob Moses)

Published by OpenDoor Poetry Magazine (2021)

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