Tuesday, July 21, 2015



I rode the New York subway train daily 
from 6th grade through college.
I have a jumble of memories:
how people shoved, squeezed in like sardines, 
men, innocently or not, standing
so close to me, I felt something like shame,
no eye contact, my books so heavy, 
someone offering me a seat,
a young girl literally providing her shoulder
for my head when I felt sick,
people helping me during a blackout,
a lady admiring my impeccable white Catholic School blouse.
The more than occasional smell of urine.

If I had time, I would tell you more about my train rides,
all those people and happenings I experienced.
Then you'd know who I've become,
based on which stories I emphasize.

(For Dverse Poets where we're asked to write about trains.) 


  1. i would love to sit with you for hours myrna and just listen to your train stories... i think that's fascinating

  2. So true on that last bit, on knowing us through the stories we tell -
    the good, the bad and the ugly of trains. So many people packed together you cant help but touch and sadly some take advantage of that, thankful for the lady who gave you her shoulder - all humanity, is not bad.

  3. The more than occasional smell of urine - oh, no, that brings it all back! Especially going back home on the night train on a Friday or Saturday night and trying to avoid those dodgy people who you just know are going to vomit all over you...
    I'd love to hear more of your stories, Myrna...

  4. I love the last two lines.

  5. Yes! Please, more stories of those rides. I'd love to hear. And standing that tightly packed is something like shame and makes one wonder. In Japan, they stuff folks into the trains - a person with the job of train stuffer does it. And there are warning notices about being "rude" and taking advantage of being close and of reporting it. For rightly packed people, they treasure their space.

  6. Your final lines have me thinking. I wonder what the stories I share (and those I conceal) say about me.
    Thank you. Thought provoking and powerful as always.

  7. Trains hold such a bundle of memories for us all.. its almost like an experience of growing up..and perhaps learning how to handle different situations. Well penned!

    Lots of love,

  8. Oh I hate standing room only on those hurtling jerking trains.......people crammed in like sardines.....so few offering a seat. Once I toppled over , around a curve, saying "I'm going down" as a sort of warning "TIM-BER!" LOL. I love the other kind of trains, that go cross-country, rock you to sleep and are too expensive to take any more.

  9. That is a lot of train rides during the growing up years Myrna ~ I can imagine it would be terrible if one is not well or has blackouts ~

    But it would be interesting to know your stories, which person or experiences had the most impression on you ~

  10. Myrna--you've really hit on something here--the stories we tell do reveal who we have become, don't they. And do you remember ironing those blouses? Dang.

  11. They can be stinky things, 'eh?

  12. Very rich personal details here, putting us right beside you, little Catholic girl with the perfectly starched pleated ironed blouse. My public transportation stories include cross-country Greyhound horrors.

  13. Excellent, excellent! Having just returned home from NYC, I find myself nodding at your descriptions of the subway as you remember it. I found some people who were very polite, and then there were some young men who took the seats and kept them while 70+ -year-old women had to stand, trying to keep balance. I didn't sell urine, but I did smell the sweat of working people...side by side to the men in suits and white shirts. All mix on the subways! I do enjoy your stories, Myrna.

  14. Very insightful observation about the stories that we choose to emphasize and what they may say about us!

  15. Oh.. only those of unlucky we.. never
    travel on a train of different
    to see eyes of those
    who ride another
    path to survive
    in life of now..
    alike hidden
    for some and
    existing for others..:)

  16. Like the way you say life is defined by train journeys... I used to take the public bus to school and truly, you learn a lot of things in a crowded bus - microcosm of life!

  17. Like how you say life is defined by train journeys.. I used to take the public bus to school and yeah you learn a lot of things in a crowded bus- a microcosm of society.

  18. that's an interesting slice of life...

  19. such rich details, Myrna! I wanna listen to your stories :) This is a beautiful piece

  20. Very much the same experience on the NY subway, Myrna! The shoving and the desperate grip on the leather strap. The smells of many kinds of aroma, whew! Great lines!