Tuesday, August 31, 2010


(Public domain photo from Wikipedia)

Freezing February night. Switching trains.
Manhattan subway stop – wish I could remember
The street number. Near a college, the sign said.
Been about 25 years,
But I’ll never forget
What I saw there:

Long, narrow platform; no one on it
Standing up
But me and a beat cop in uniform.
Station deserted except for him, me
And a couple of homeless guys
Passed out on two of the benches.
I didn’t care, being
Too nervous to sit.

Anyway, this cop strolls up to one,
Twirling his nightstick
As if it were a baton. Suddenly
He grips it by the handle,
Slaps it hard
Against the soles of the guy’s feet.
I thank God he’s wearing shoes.
The loud crack makes me jump,
Although I saw it coming.
The guy barely revives, looking up
Puzzled, luckily
Anesthetized on something.

The cop says, voice ringing out
Off of concrete, “Those benches
Are for PEOPLE,
Not you guys.” Then he looks back,
Flashes me a smile, white
as a blackboard soul drawn by a nun
under his little Hitler moustache.
He expects to see
I feel sick, look
I worked late.
I’m just trying to get

– © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

NOTE: "Baton" is actually now a common name for a police officer's club, but when I refer to the word here, I mean the kind marchers twirl in parades.

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