Prologue

So if you’re a writer, tell me a story, he said.

I’m afraid I can’t.

Can’t you? Did you run out of stories?

Run out? They’re backed up in my head like subway riders at rush hour turnstiles. They come and go like the flashes of light in the tunnels. They give me sidelong, seductive glances and then are gone at the next stop, or the one after, without looking back. Dozens, dare I say hundreds, every day.

So tell me one.

That’s just it. I want to tell you all of them. What would just one mean? How can I pick? Would it be the right one?

The right one?

The one you need to hear.

The boy laughed, a bright chattering bell above the trundle of the subway train. What if I want to hear all of them?

Well. How far are you going, my friend?

I’m going to the end of the line.

Unfortunately the next stop might be mine, or the one after.

Then you better get started.

Do you want one with a moral, or do you just want to be entertained?

How about one with a superhero?

Ah, a little of both. Alright then. Once there was a small boy with unruly blond hair and green eyes. A green that you don’t see very often — never, in fact. Aventurine.

His name was Sebastian.

One day his father accompanied him on a class trip. There they were on the 4 train, Sebastian, his father, his teacher, and the entire first grade class at St. Athanasius School. Across the aisle, leaning against the door reading, Sebastian saw a young man, perhaps a college student, scruffy and unkempt. Sebastian couldn’t take his eyes off this stranger, and why do you think?

His eyes were the same shade as Sebastian’s. Aventurine. The sort of green you never see. The sort of green Sebastian had been searching peoples’ eyes for since he first realized exactly how uncommon they were.

Are you finding this one interesting so far?

I don’t know yet. Just tell it.

It all started when the doors opened at 14th Street…

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©2014 Jason Anderson

New world

A world exists in a subway car

And from hemisphere to hemisphere

Tourists stare

At picture postcards of cities

They’ve never known

Unguarded, uninvasive

Behind borders

They will never cross

Down foreign streets

Where they never go

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By Jason Anderson

Late February, Bryant Park

The Zamboni is on the ice

And I think of how much like my writing

Is that glass surface

Through a milky cloud obfuscating

A depth of urgent meaning

In unripe spring

And I want the laughing children

To come out quickly

And skate once more before the thaw

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By Jason Anderson

The beat and the blood

4 train at Grand Central 42nd Street

I

In the hazy beginnings

And endings

Of days

Run,

Blood in these veins

Driven by beat

Mechanical

And beat divine

Subway wall

And station hall

Prophets change

Salvation

To bread

Their words run

Through me

As the drums

Pump youth

Through tunnels

Dying to be young

Steaming

Steel

Souls and bodies

Minds and wits

And dancing feet

Slipping on tile

Spilling hot and red

To the surface

To sacrifice their heat

To wintry breath

Through the veins

I run

The blood

Through hazy beginnings

And neon endings

Of days

To the place

Where the prophets

Fall silent

And all is flesh

And madness

And time’s jealous eye

And the beat

And the bodies

And the youth

Run steaming

Through gutters

Stopped up with

New-fallen snow

Cigarette butts

Nips and buds

And dancing feet

From the moon

They come

These feet to run

In these veins

And spill in

These streets

Driven, dying

By this beat

Through brilliant frozen

Midnights

Of surrection

Oblivious

To the neon beginnings

And endings

Of days

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By Jason Anderson

The Universe Begins and Ends Near Borough Hall

crowd-pressed face to face against the center pole near the doors it’s awkward NOT to make eye contact but that’s the maxim — and then it happens and it fixes fast and open, his chest pressed through a thin sweater against my steadying hand between the knuckles, against which hand his young heart beats a strong rhythm amid fleeting warmth long after eyes are withdrawn leaving a vacuum that pulls my gaze spinning after

and when it happened it had always been, and when it ended it had never happened

— somewhere near Borough Hall station

Since last we spoke

image

Over the past month and a half I’ve packed up and moved my life from Providence to New York City. I woke up in a sunny Brooklyn apartment this morning and my first thought was,

“Crap, I have no internet yet.”

And then,

“I have no hot water yet, either.”

In that order. I loathe typing on my phone – even texting or Facebook messages. It feels like the 2013 equivalent of Morse code (even swiping). But I thought I should check in since I dropped off the face of the earth for longer than usual.

I haven’t been writing in the sitting down banging away at a keyboard sense, but I have in the recording everything in my head sense. I guess moving anywhere is a lot, but NYC is enormous and complicated, not to mention ridiculously paced. Decisions have to be made instantly or you get off at the wrong parkway exit and head into the Bronx in a fourteen foot moving truck.

I digress.

On the other hand, it’s always been one of the warmest, most genuinely human cities I’ve known. I know that flies in the face of stereotype (and it’s often well-concealed), but it’s true. You want the definition of “we’re all in the same boat,” it’s when the doors close on the 4 train and everyone from the CEO to the homeless guy is there pressed together at the mercy of the MTA.

Yeah, when they get off the train they go to very different places, but in many cities they’d never end up standing shoulder to shoulder at all, ever.

That’s the most amazing realization I’ve had so far…you can’t easily segregate or shelter yourself in this city. We’re all thrown in together in this jostling, arrogant and very human crowd, on sidewalks, in subways, in elevators and grocery stores. It makes for stories.

I’ve had another realization…I have to get better about food shopping. The hipster grocery I’m frequenting is like food shopping at a hotel gift shop. Pricey.

Time.

Age of Enlightenment

Light casts shadows naturally, mediating the material

Ages of enlightenment cast shadows aside, banished

To the past, where we the enlightened find vindication

And the future, when we hope to stand under a higher sun

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By Jason Anderson