In The Subway – For John Bartlett
Walking to the subway, we must look like a gorgeous gangi, a West Side Story of college students, fluttering with sleeveless shirts and shorts and dresses, jaunting silent and classicii down the street.
The busker sings from the back of his voice, the one running out the back door into bramble, and knows which way the sun always sets and how to find water. I think it’s something about the D train, but that might be the location sinking into my head. We drop dollars into his guitar caseiii. I fish out an extra quarter because 1) I have it so 2) I should give it to him and 3) it’s more than everyone else because 4) in my jealous heart of hearts, I know I like him the most. Walking away, a stranger says, “That’s a beautiful song,” his voice tinged with his Asiatic home country. I smile and back away; I agree so much.
Hasidic Jews should have an infinite supply of black socks. The men always wear the same suit – all black everything, in a matter of courseiv. The sweat socks peek out under his slacks, and I feel better about my devotion to G-d and my ability to dress myself.
The subway enters a station at 30mph. Rolling across the platform, the metal ship can move the wind in front of my face. This is a safe whoosh of technologyv; the train cannot leave the track, so I can get close without fear. I’ve stood as close as possible, craving the wind high-fiving me to my next destination. In light of recent subway deaths, I should probably stop doing this. But, you knowvi, fuck it.
i “Teenagers scare / The living shit out of me / They could care less / As long as someone’ll bleed / So darken your clothes / Or strike a violent pose / Maybe they’ll leave you alone / But not me.” – My Chemical Romance, Teenagers
ii “She was unquestionably beautiful, and yet there was something odd, wrong, about her looks, her clothing: something a little too… It was as though she had studied American notions of beauty from some great distance and had come all this way only to find she had overdone the details: a debutante from another planet.” – Michael Chabon, Mysteries of Pittsburgh
iii “There are eight levels of charity: 1) Support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him… 2) Give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received… 3) When one knows to whom one gives, but the recipient does not know his benefactor… 4) When one does not know to whom one gives, but the poor person does know his benefactor… 5) When one gives to the poor person directly into his hand, but gives before being asked. 6) When one gives to the poor person after being asked. 7) When one gives inadequately, but gives gladly and with a smile. 8) When one gives unwillingly.” – Maimonides, Mishneh Torah
iv “Is it OK to wear white socks with black dress pants? Serious responses only please. // NO NO and NO. That is really a big FASHION mistake. And that isn’t considered casual - just bad taste!!!! :o) // Thanks for the advice- I was headed for a fashion disaster!” – Yahoo Answers, December 11, 2007
v “1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.” – Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
vi “I don’t care, I love it. / I don’t care, I love it, I love it. / I don’t care, I love it. I don’t care.” – Icona Pop, I Love It
As of 2014: Eric Silver is the co-founder and four-time team member of Slam! at NYU, the most winningest collegiate slam poetry team. A recipient of the Emerging Jewish Artist Fellowship from the Bronfman Center, he self-published the first run of his chapbook Post-Awkward Expressionism. He has work or work upcoming in Potluck and Black Heart Mag and anthologies Great Weather from Media and We Will Be Shelter from Write Bloody Press. A high school English teacher and cardigan and loud music enthusiast, he wants to be somewhere between Robin Williams in Dead Poets’ Society and College Dropout Kanye.