Subway Seethe

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
What could have been the big to-do
that caused him to push me aside
on that platform? Was a woman who knew
there must be some good even inside
an ass like him on board that train?
Charity? Frances? His last chance
in a ratty string of last chances? Jane?
Surely in all of us is some good.
Better love thy neighbor, buddy,
lest she shove back. Maybe I should.
It's probably just a cruddy
downtown interview leading to
some cheap-tie, careerist, dull
cul-de-sac he's speeding to.
Can he catch up with his soul?
Really, what was the freaking crisis?
Did he need to know before me
if the lights searching the crowd's eyes
were those of our train, or maybe
the train of who he might have been,
the person his own-heart-numbing,
me-shoving anxiety about being
prevents him from ever becoming?
How has his thoughtlessness defiled
who I was before he shoved me?
How might I be smiling now if he'd smiled,
hanging back, as though he might have loved me?

Source: Poetry (April 2005).

 J. Allyn Rosser


J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), winner of the Morse Poetry Prize; Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award; Foiled Again, winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize; and Mimi's Trapese (2014). Her poetry has also been published in such periodicals as . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Friends & Enemies, Activities, Gender & Sexuality, Relationships, Jobs & Working

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Mixed

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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