December 14th, 2019
On one World Trade Center bound E train at approximately four-thirty this afternoon I had an experience that too often takes place on our subways. A man, aged perhaps in the middle of his forties or early fifties, boarded the train and began ranting concerning the state of race relations in our city and in our country. "They all should get the hell out!" he exclaimed to all who could hear on our subway car, "Don't come to my city and ask me for directions!" One-by-one and two-by-two with each passing stop more and more subway patrons decamped from our car, perhaps by chance just because their stop had arrived, or just as likely because the man's antics were shameful and intolerable, and in such instances, often the most wise move for one to make is to excuse him or herself from the presence of such an ambush. I stayed because my stop was only one or two more stops away and I thought that I could bear it. And I stayed because I had buried my nose into the December 9th, 2019 issue of the New Yorker, and as a result barely, though only ––– barely ––– could tune out the scene around me. Whether or not the man is on another train somewhere now, ranting, or will be on another train tomorrow or in the near future (which seems likely) ranting, the first stanza within Liora Mondlak's poem, "Natural Resources," which was published within Issue No. 5 - Autumn 2018 and also appears below, feels apt.
All of our best,
When the man who snapped "Don't tell me
to stay calm!" got off the subway train,
we glanced at his empty seat. No one rushed
to take it, his energy field lingered.
It was November and still warm enough
for the psychic on Seventeenth Street to read
palms outside her store, where she'd set up
a table, two chairs, and a sign: CLAIRVOYANT.
In the building next door, Luis and I once made out
in the narrow elevator all the way to the sixth floor.
He was writing a book about the Yanomami
in Brazil and liked to watch old gangster
and cowboy movies, where the armed
men died, but no one shed a drop of blood.