On the Concourse
A river of metal
Slithers down the cheap imitation
Of a Parisian ‘Avenue’
Split through the center and lined with leafless trees.
A cloud-filtered sun watches as
Throngs of children accumulate at bus stops,
Jacketed bodies crowd together, resisting the chill
That turns dead leaves into gray-brown tumults.
I turn a deaf ear to the children as I pass,
And as I sulk on, I approach a cathedral of transportation.
A bridge upon a bridge, a subway piled on an overpass
crossing that steel river that I follow.
A pedestrian tunnel is bored into this monument of movement.
Above the threshold a relief proclaims ‘1910,’
Since then the walls have adopted the same shade as the pavement.
As I near the tunnel, footsteps slap from behind, a group passes
Me in a brisk jog, as they near
The center of pedestrian pass,
The tallest yells ‘Bohlay’
And his companions reply ‘Charge’
Their cry reverberates
Through the cramped space, and in moments
is gone, and soon too are they
Consumed by the parkway.
They broke us down.
Pushing us up hills, as rocks
Twisted our ankles beneath us.
Porcelain berry mocked us from the trees
It smothered – trees bearing
A weight of the same breed as our own.
Poison ivy tickles
The exposed part of our legs,
Going unnoticed until it
Is far too late.
As our tormenters’ path kissed the highway,
A painted white line
Protected us from the unseeing drivers.
Soon a tunnel, graffiti-spattered and unlit,
Loomed over us, echoing the cackles that
Drove us forward, toward the light.
At the greenhouse gates we
Were permitted to stop.
Our tormenters stood upon a rock,
From their mouths issued
Praises of their blind, foolish god,
Whose cult of personality
His freeing of stress,
And ability to empty the bodily orifices,
His gift of the Adonis body, and
The unending strength to push on.
And in this way, they built us.
And at the end of their sermon,
They compared us to the
War heroes of yesteryear,
Declaring us one and the same.
They showed us the easy path,
The downhill roads,
Filling us with bravado,
Peaking our confidence. They joked with us,
And ran as our equals.
First a few drops,
A friendly reminder that trees provide no shelter.
The light drizzle pelts us from above,
an unreachable itch.
By the time we reach the field
what dripped lightly from the sky
Now turned the air gray, we had passed the edge.
Thus we embraced nature’s icy salvation
And we ran.
Our shirts became weights
As they tried to keep us from our worship.
Flung from our backs
Forgotten in the new mud.
Open expanses through which we ran
Were hidden by sheets of liquid ice
That cling to the bare skin.
We turn toward the broad
Way sprinting blindly to its
A hill greets us with a flood,
Clear liquid rushes underfoot
In the gutters at the
Threshold of streets.
Home at last, shirtless bodies numb,
Clothes soaked with water, free from nature’s will.
To think it started with
A first few drops.
Down the primordial pathway of our
Forefathers, brothers of the past who out of curiosity
Razed a rite of passage from the forest.
But I have seen the Walls, I am initiated – now I
Over years has she whispered
In the oblivion, the unmarked forest below the cliff, a beam
of light, promise shimmered
Just beyond the seam
Of reality and fantasy.
A reflection promising ecstasy.
At last I draw courage to talk.
Off reality, down the dirt, leaf littered slope
I walk. Seduced by the hope
Of worlds obscured by trees.
Oh how she moans, but a change?
Does that voice thicken as my once-white shoes
Are grasped by strengthening damp black hands?
Trees crawl from view, and
Thick voiced and black-watered, cackles in my face.
What I took for a lake is
a mire or puddle of rains past,
that through a doorway in trees,
the sun’s life gilds.
Though senses unfed
And craving lingers,
I am victorious yet, for lore ruptures
from magnificent desolation. My brothers,
On my rock,
Among leaves and fallen trees
I watch them.
From my vantage,
Pooling at the hills foot
They coil down.
Atop my mount,
My equals among the soundless
Mass, we wait.
Below the neophytes, instructed to
Watch, turn reborn, bloodshot eyes
mouths bellowing steam in dusk air.
A comrade guides stragglers
To their fellows, then still.
Wind alone dares move as he is our devil.
My chest rises, inspiration calms nerves,
Years deferral seem seconds as culmination nears,
But long felt pain turns ecstasy so close to death.
The crowd must move,
My hands thrust upward at my sides,
Leaves into the wind break the weight of anticipation.
As I run to catch up,
A successor awaits.
Steven Trebach, Age 18, Grade 12, Horace Mann School, Silver Key