Don’t Sleep On The Train No More.

“Black boy,
Black boy…
What you gonna do?
Barack Obama’s coming for you.”

-Dreadlock rasta man on 1AM L Train Union Square.

Begin paraphrase:

Singing Of Jihad. Benghazi. Iraq. 9/11. These things occurred in yr. heart.
That one day America will not be just a society, but a just society.
That yr. power is in yr. own heart.
That you are just a small dead boy named [REDACTED]. You look open-eyed, wide-eyed and sing deep.
(A) God bless America. [People on the train are smiling at what he says b/c he is funny]
That veterans and G.I.s with stumps are not looking out for handouts to oil pumps. But that there are drones in the sky that look and drones in the sky that bomb. And yr. only gonna be certain when yr. under the wrong one.
God bless America. God bless America. [I exchange a look with someone]

End paraphrase.

He went on. In spoken word pieces. Set between chooka-chooka rhythms and a palm-mute/D-note on the heavy E string. During which he sang the quoted chorus.

That was 1AM on the Brooklyn-bound L Train. He did this up and down the train car from U.Sq. until Bedford Avenue station.

I found myself agreeing with his methods. There’s no use in proselytizing angry. Better be goofy and sing it. You won’t make anyone say:

/I’m a human being goddamn it. My life has value/

But you may make them remember jumbled paraphrases and a caricatured accent. Then again, I was already thinking that this is not and will never be a just society. So he was giving these brain worms an outlet.

Before this?

Going toward Union Square:

Some white guy, biking clothes, 10:36PM, coasting on his bike down the Dekalb platform. It was a breezy night, no trains blowing the breeze. Just the air being breezy electric. He has this blissful look on his face breathing in through his nose.

He turns around in the middle of the platform and can see cops in the distance. Me and the girl on the bench can see them too. Two of ‘em loping toward us three like a pair of scuzzlebutts.

Bike guy hops off of his bike. He is walking fast, trying to get out of the subway tunnel. Off of this damned platform that is no longer breezy but is instead making his face flush. He is trying to escape.

But those goons – equipped each with a gun, taser, mace, handcuffs, two-way radio, billy-club, army boots, pens, and ticket books – well, that list is not exhaustive but, those goons caught up with him.

They caught up with this cyclist. And they were writing him a ticket when the train finally pulled into the station.

Going into Manhattan 10:45PM a homeless black man surrounded by bags shit himself at one end of the car. I could smell it at the opposite end of the car. I’m not going to sit on the shitty smelling car.

Once we’ve passed under the tunnel between stations I walk through the doors. I crinkle my nose and I shake it off and open my book. Everyone has gotten on the shitty car before. When the train pulls into Jefferson, a miniature exodus begins. And this happens at every stop, each time the swell of people increases.

‘Til finally the damn bursts and the ridiculous L train riders have appeared in full and they are making faces. Angry ones because sometimes the subway is shit. Mid-laughter ones with teary eyes. Saying things like ‘everyone gets on the shitty car sometimes.’ and other things like ‘oh my god.’

But one couple sits next to me, so I hear how their conversation goes after the laughter.

[keep in mind that I don’t have to and I don’t not have to listen]

“That guy was having a feces party back there.” he sez.

I think, ‘It didn’t seem like a party.’ but I have slept on the train and have no sense of humor and I really just wanted to read so I let it flow out of my mind. (I thought it was out of there.) I can still hear them in the present moment – that being the past now. When I was trying to read.

Now I can’t write so I’m editing. And someone reading this will have no idea what the original intent of the preceding paragraph (and especially that sentence!) was.

“I’ve never been on a car that smelled so bad. Like, I’ve been on cars that smell bad before but I have never been on one that smelled like that. It was like, the whole car.” she sez that sounds like the announcement, you know, like “New Seamless order.” [ad naseum]

“I remember once,” he sez next, “I was on a train and everyone was making faces at some smell. And I couldn’t smell anything. I literally asked the lady next to me what it was. I guess my body chemistry didn’t register it.”

He sounded so smug in that moment that I dared not to look at him. He sounded as smug as “dared not to look at him” sounds pretentious. He sounded so smug that I wanted to whap his penis and balls with the spine of my book.

As we pull into another station and the exodus begins again, she sez, “I want to film people’s reactions as they change cars.”

And I look down and she has an iPhone in her hand. And I think, “GOD! She could actually do that.” but what I meant to think was, “She could actually record the people recoiling in horror at another human’s suffering.” b/c I meant to think grandiose since I was reading a hard cover (good for whapping p&b into jelly) copy of [REDACTED].

And now I think I was thinking that it is just weird living with humans. Since one thing we often do is document each other, but we don’t seem to observe these documents. We seem to only observe the documentation-action part of it.

And I finally get to U.Sq. and stay there for a while smoking hand-rolled cigarettes with [REDACTED] and talk about this piece of gibberish I’m writing and mental illness. And I have no intent to write about coming here b/c I’ve slept here before too and have already written about that.

And it’s been such a cool summer. Everyone is dressing awesome this summer. They seem to feel that way too. Someone offers someone else a sandwich. Until the police appear again, at 12:30AM to “Close the fountain.”

There was another homeless guy. He was sleeping on the fountain steps. He pissed right onto the ground while a 4 ton truck drove a foot away from his pecker. The truck was some kind of cleaning truck and I am only guessing at it’s actual weight… But it arrived in the nick of time.

And then some guy carrying roses asks us if we’re going to sleep in the park and we say ‘no.’ because we’re beyond that now – we hope.

But that’s about when I got myself back into the subway system, to wait on the Brooklyn-bound L Train – just like that song. And instead that other song is coming along.

Hear that D note shuffle?

Black boy, black boy… What you gonna do?


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