SUBWAY

there’s a Subway across the street

 

fettered shutters grimy rolls of yellow-green paper roil like snake skins

 

 

in this little slice of the world street corners are reserved for art suppliers

 

and chic french cafés

 

jewelers

 

Subways have to make do with the lean side-street pickings they can get

 

and unfortunately not all of us can subsist on last year’s sterling silver

 

 

 

let me see

 

i’m twenty-three years old and

 

i haven’t shaved in five years

 

but mum still calls me her sugar-pea

 

 

 

i have a fiancé, i think but i haven’t met her yet

dave I used to play soccer with nice bloke

 

he spends his evenings behind bars of 6-inch bread

 

it’s good money, man

 

and I could count the years in his forehead when he frowned

 

 

 

in these purple moments

 

just in the cracks between words

 

i think of paris and

 

the cash register groans

 

c’est la vie

 

the streetlamp flickers

 

c’est la vie

 

 

 

i wonder if they have Subway in paris

 

malgré qu’on ne sache pas

 

les secondes pensées ont de coutume d’être plus nettes

 

que les premières

 

 

 

the glowing maw opens on me now

 

in a salami smile

 

with a tongue of meatball melt

 

i don’t go in

 

eliot would be proud

 

 

 

i don’t go in

 

though hands pat uneasily at my stomach

 

with nails rough and stained yellow like a loved tarpaulin

 

i don’t imagine it’s the tarpaulin my mother imagined for me

 

as she held me

 

as the deepest reaches of the morning hold me

 

as I now clutch to my corrugated-plastic 7-11 slurpee

 

 

 

there’s something wicked about the allure of fast-food at 3am

 

when the night seems too flat and too cold and far too old for anything as mundane

 

as a footlong sub