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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

Underground


by Daniel Cowper

Strap-hanging in a subway car
with other commuters,
swaying. Bumping hips
like pickles shaken in a jar

at each bend. Wheels abrade the air.
Jiggling portraits on plexiglass show
men and women mulling plans
and cross-appeals, or staring

at phones pastel-backed as duotangs.
Then a voice from the emptiness outside:
“Call that gandy dancing, dog-fuckers?
I’m starving, so big-cat and bang

it down.” Cackles vibrate in the crypt
we’re traversing, skeletal limbs scrape
closer in the surrounding dark.
Then steel clangs and treads grip

gravel. Halogen lights flare
on the tunnel roof. Slowing, our capsule
nears a hollering foreman and his crew.
And we were never scared —

never felt the cold slop of panic
in forgotten organs. Our ghosts
debunked, we grip harder
what’s trained and automatic.

Header photograph © Jason D. Ramsey.

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