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

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Features

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Agent McConnell

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Books, Arts & Manners

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Two Masters

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Sections

Athwart

Your Firstborn, Too

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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

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Letters

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Politics & Policy

The Week

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For a liberal Democrat, Larry David sometimes comes off as America’s reactionary id. Last night, on a superb tenth-season opener of Curb Your Enthusiasm, David made an extended joke about the (in)famous Make America Great Again cap. To a certain extent, I think the joke here is on Larry David. David’s ... Read More