Listen: Steve Peacock’s “Commuters”
Steve Peacock’s “Commuters” is the poem of the day. It’s a textured portrait of New York City that isn’t without a sense of humor. Steve Peacock is Bronx-born writer and educator who now lives on the Jersey Shore, where he is unaffiliated with, uninterested in and even embarrassed by the unreality TV show of that same name. His poetry has appeared in Monkeybicycle, Edison Literary Review, South Jersey Underground, The Idiom, and Towson University’s Grub Street. An excerpt from his true-crime memoir-in-progress, Play Dead, Roll Over, was a finalist in Creative Nonfictionmagazine’s recent “Anger & Revenge” contest.
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The full text of the poem can be found after the jump.
by Steve Peacock
A torrent of early morning
descends the steps
of seemingly duplicative buses,
lurching to a halt
and pouring more passengers into
the Port Authority Terminal at
42nd and Eighth.
Hordes of dour-faced folks
are belched out of multiple platform doors
on the second floor, where in a near-sprint they
shoot out in a multitude
not unlike ants
scurrying across the soil
beneath an abruptly exposed
A front offensive line
of recently caffeinated nine-to-fivers
attempts to break through
a miniscule contingent
of red-eyed midnight shifters
in defensive formation
for a bus back to Jersey.
One angry recent arrival,
a double-breasted Italian-jacketed fellow
clearly late for his Monday morning meeting,
forces his way between
two midnight shifters, as if they
simply are a pair of
silent brass stanchions
without so much as a velvet rope
to adorn them, useless
obstructions serving no purpose
but to annoy
the more important members
One midnight shifter—
the expressionless guy
in the tan raincoat—flinches, yet fails
to respond or even make
eye contact. But the other brass stanchion—
the short twenty-something man
with the cheap blue sport coat
and requisite tan slacks—
swings his right forearm
under the nine-to-fiver’s
a guaranteed express delivery
to the filth-strewn
He leans down to the dazed commuter—
who is now certain to be late
for his Monday morning meeting—
from his face that the next time,
if there’s a next time,
he will snap his bones
and make him drown
in his own blood.
The midnight shifter has no intention
of carrying out such a threat,
but a pinch of exhaustion,
supplemented by previous mistreatment
sustained at the hands
and hearts of his fellow interstate commuters
makes for a spicy concoction
when brought to a boil.
Having elicited a gasp
and accompanying wide-eyed silent stare
from the fallen man, the intended message
clearly has achieved its maximum effect.
Strangely, he has attained peace,
subsequently extending a hand
to help the neutralized invader,
who rejects his entreaties
and quickly scurries off.
The Lakewood-bound bus swings
into the slot outside Gate 48. One by one,
the lethargic commuters board
the diesel fume-spewing beast.
The victorious midnight shifter
achieves sweet sleep in his seat
before the bus breaks through
to the Weehawken side
of the Lincoln Tunnel.
He misses the chance
to once again gaze
at the sweeping daytime
Manhattan skyline offered by the
hilly hairpin curve
that the driver navigates
along the Hudson
Tonight, however, the midnight shifter shall arise.
Tonight, undeterred, he shall return.