the green line by james morehead (now) the green line trolley rumbles past park street | boylston | arlington | copley | hynes convention center | kenmore | fenway | longwood | brookline village | brookline hills | beaconsfield | reservoir | chestnut hill each stop blurring one into another a boston policeman sitting silent next to me stiff cap pointed badge crisp jacket black boots eyes forward my parents anxiously awaiting outside newton centre station i am eleven (45 minutes ago) i do what i always do locked in routine "go down into the station put the fare in the fare box spin through the turnstile turn right / stairs down the tunnel beneath the tracks connecting east to west and home" the station quiet and empty i turn to take the first step down they surround me from the tunnel's shadows ten boys maybe twelve buzzing with excitement one pushes me and another and then a hand clamps over my mouth (in that moment a memory burns: fingers rough on my lips sticky smell a sweaty palm a burst of terror unable to breath) they pull me wrestling down the stairs smothered mouth screams tears panic and then in a moment a shout from across the tracks they scatter into the shadows the policeman must have appeared or perhaps a ticket seller or passerby i remember nothing and will never know seconds minutes hours? my mind erased by each stolen breath and after a time sitting silent on the green line trolley (50 minutes ago) i do what I always do locked in routine "go from mcdonald’s to the park street station don’t cross the street go into the station go down the stairs into the tunnel and under the tracks that’s how you go home" my heart is still racing when they reappear ten boys maybe twelve laughing surrounding me blocking the station entrance “where are you going?” “leave me alone!” my shy voice trembling again they disappear so I step down (60 minutes ago) i do what i always do locked in routine "after choir practice grab dinner next door at mcdonald’s twenty should be plenty remember to bring home change!" when turning from the counter my tray full of dinner two boys approach “are you alone?” “yes” my shy voice trembles (knowing "yes" is the wrong answer) and then they are gone leaving me alone sweat tickling down my neck (65 minutes ago) i do what i always do locked in routine "grab dinner before coming home mcdonald's is next door" i walk out of the cathedral church of st. paul steps away from boston's freedom trail breathing in crisp fall air choir practice hymns ringing in my ears i am ready for dinner and the green line home it was wednesday
Hear James Morehead, and other selected poets, read their poems on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:
Cutter Streeby on Exploring the Intersection of Visual Arts and Poetry – Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast
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James Morehead is the Poet Laureate of Dublin, California. “canvas: poems” is his debut collection, and he hosts The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast. James’ poem “tethered” was transformed into an award-winning hand drawn animated short film, and “gallery” was set to music for baritone and piano by composer Deon Nielsen Price.
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