Subway Prayer

From her neck, a plastic rosary dangles
 like a child, swinging.
 With poker-player precision,
 she rations coins and cigarettes with her man
 who drinks Jack Daniels
 on a Bronx-bound 2 train.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
 The Lord is with thee.

On-lookers drink in faded lipstick lips,
 older white woman,
 her younger black lover,
 his hair, small,
 cotton-ball knots,
 crimson eyes and lipstick-stained lips.
 Intoxicating lust.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

A beggar, heavy, duck-taped like his wheelchair,
 stumbles into the train car,
 fragrant with human waste.
 He speaks of a world that hurls him
 into subterranean fundraising.

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

He makes his rounds,
 wheelchair, clinking against iron poles.
 Open hands,
 in front of potential donors.
 He wishes God blessed him
 with a winning deck of cards.

Holy Mary, Mother of God.

To the lovers,
 he huffs.

Pray for us sinners.

The gambling-pair captures him
 in the midst of trading nickels and Marlboros,
 gives the begging man
 hoping for a better hand.


This poem is reprinted with permission of the poet.