Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Under the El Tracks" by Glen Russell Slater

A friend of mine has posted a terrific poem in free verse; which I suck at; on his blog Stickball Hero. I am re-posting it, with permission here simply because it’s really good. I’m better at putting together structured verse, with a bit of wordplay thrown in to keep the reader guessing. This is more in your face, with no ambiguity about it. Glen is in the front row, second from the right in this classic 2nd grade photo from his blog.

Under the El Tracks by
Glen Russell Slater

I feel so naked and awkward
In the sunshine
As if I’m being X-rayed by the stuck-up jerks on Lefferts Boulevard
In the rain I have some shelter
No one sees me.

But not in the sunshine, which exposes me.
Under the el tracks, they share a kind of common misery
Under the el tracks, I don’t feel so alone in my loneliness

I wish that I lived near the el tracks
that would cover the boulevard
And I could get lost underneath the din and the dark
and the vibrating roar that envelops your ears and your entire body
from your head to your shoes.
Of the el Train of Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven
Or the el tracks on Brighton Beach Avenue.

Once upon a time,
One Brooklyn winter,
I made sandwiches at Perlmutter’s Luncheonette on Brighton Beach Avenue
Under the el tracks.

I used to screw up the sandwiches and give the wrong change
because I was so nervous as I was scrutinized by the tough guy jerks
who went in there to place bets
On basketball games.

They’d eat sandwiches and drink coffee and talk about the point spread.
And that funny-looking damn little Russian, that genius, wise-ass teenager
who worked there, too.
He made everything look so easy; I wished the bastard would go back to the Soviet Union.

I’d deliver those sandwiches to those batty Russian broads every day
in that beauty parlor
above Weintraub’s hardware store
That was in the mid-80s.
But I didn’t know how good I had it……..
Lost underneath the el tracks.

You can view Glen's original post here;

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