A Subway Poem

Poem By: Charles Simic


Every morning I forget how it is.

I watch the smoke mount

In great strides above the city.

I belong to no one.


Then, I remember my shoes,

How I have to put them on,

How bending over to tie them up

I will look into the  Earth.

Many times I ride the subway to work and an inspirational poem in the cart catches my attention. I love this kind of poetry because, although the author has a clear interpretation of his own meaning, the reader can have his or her own interpretation of the poem as well. As readers we can apply these interpretations to our own lives.

I picture myself in this big city, walls that reach up to the sky, and I feel lucky to be apart of it. I avoid looking down as much as possible, and not just because of the dirty sidewalks and sewer rats.

I want to feel tall. There is something empowering about a city like New York City. Even if you are not successful, you somehow imagine your presence in this bubble means you’ve made it at least half way. I lose touch with reality, and on days where I go home to see my family across the pond these bottled up emotions of failure resinate inside me and flat line with the wet lands of the Jersey swamps.

I am happier when I am here because it helps me to forget about things in my past that have deterred me from making it this far. While I’ll never have the tools to keep my head tilted up towards the sky forever, I can relax knowing that the sky scrapers will always be in my peripheral.

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