Magazine June 3, 2013, Issue

Poetry

YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED; YOU ARE WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING; YOUR KINGDOM WILL BE DIVIDED AND SURRENDERED TO THE PERSIANS

It’s one year later, but the same old subway station

Stairs I step down — tread-worn, steep, and gritty.

One weight they’ve yet to bear: the fruits of renovation

Long-promised but forgotten by the city

(It would seem). They lead one down where walls

Are filmed with ageless grime and looking only slightly

Better written on than bathroom stalls.

Still, I have seen construction sites far more unsightly.

Nothing to read but bygone Outbounds ghosting through

The years, and faded taggers’ signature

Graffiti (what else can a subway Daniel do?).

Then . . . four block caps — or can my eyes be sure? –

Develop in the caked-on layers: S,

A, L, and R, beneath a finger pointing west,

Back where I came from. Now I have to guess:

This pentimento — or do I mean palimpsest? –

Apparent in the atmospheric fixative,

Emerges from the past to half-spell . . . what?

I stare till others stare, until the letters give:

Forming through oily paint, and scribbled smut

And stain, their four-square shapes predict the past:

Once, ESCALATOR stood forth, helpful, plain, and clear,

To guide us up and out. It did not last.

From moving stairs, to stairs, to what then, come the year

This station’s finished? What will be the public’s lot,

I wonder, staring. Will those thousands tramp

Their way to street-side straining up some ziggurat,

Or maybe just a dusty earthen ramp?

Len Krisak is an American poet. He has taught at Brandeis, Northeastern University, and Stonehill College.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

The Campaign Must Go On!

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The Difference It Will Make

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Features

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Agent McConnell

Mitch McConnell had a problem. He needed to give President Obama, the man he had publicly vowed to make a one-term president, a nominee for the Legal Services Corporation. By ...
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Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Two Masters

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) and Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) were contemporaries, though Michelangelo had a much longer life. Both are titans in the annals of Western art. But, as two enlightening exhibitions of ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

The Borg Below I was intrigued by Kevin D. Williamson’s “Borg Queen” (May 6). It reminded me of the contrast between the junior devil’s “Enemy” and his “Father Below” in Chapter ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

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Athwart

Your Firstborn, Too

Second terms are the price a man pays for the hubris of thinking he deserves one. The Boston Herald, searching for a term to sum up the president’s merry May, chose ...
The Long View

Talking Points

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Politics & Policy

Poetry

YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED; YOU ARE WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING; YOUR KINGDOM WILL BE DIVIDED AND SURRENDERED TO THE PERSIANS It’s one year later, but the same old subway station Stairs I ...
Happy Warrior

Long-Run Silence

The other day, Niall Ferguson, a celebrity historian at Harvard, was at an “investors’ conference,” the kind of speaking gig he plays a lot of: You get a ton of ...

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‘Who are we?” “What are we here for?” These are some of the most fundamental questions of our lives. And they can lead to a bit of a crisis these days, as there is so much uncertainty. Those questions are about more than each one of us as an individual. As statues are being torn down, the question of who ... Read More