[paths of panic and power]
The announcers screech into their microphones, three voices, three systems overmodulate, (noise! nonsense!) a cacophony of distortion, words unrecognizable, squawking walkie-talkies add to the din, as do shrill mechanized alert sounds.
(These “bells” are not calling us to mindfulness, but alerting us to the re-emerging possibilities of subterranean terror.)
Crowded confusion, rising fear, sheer panic appears on several faces: The L train is on the wrong track!
Police crowd the train across the platform. Someone mutters the words: “sick customer.” Knowing New Yorkers recognize the euphemism. It translates into delirium, madness and subway suicide. We dis-easily glance into one another’s eyes.
I look away, determined not to revisit the my lover’s terrifying nightmares of the past night — surveillance, capture, torture, screams. (Only the warm furry purrs of a contented familiar suddenly, happily, aware of our awakened mid-night state had rescued us from the horror).
I stay on the train, even as it takes the wrong track, its purring mechanics carry me onto my PATH.
A few minutes later I transfer again, breathing, at last, above ground. Newark: stationed, staged, and situated at the intersection of urban blight, poverty, industrial pollution, post-suburban economics, and ever more complicated politics of race and power. Disrepair, deindustrialization, disappearance. An ‘other’ Detroit, literally on the edge of the capitalist megalopolis.
Momentarily thankful for the “quiet” car, anxiety is abated, for now anyway.
I shuttle on to the disquiet of a disintermediated industry overlooking a major corridor of power.
(For Jackie, a comrade in complex commuting.)