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Poetry Magnum Opus

Just Outside the Tunnel [R]


RHommel

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This is the last one I have with bad language, but I think it's the best one with bad language I have.

 

Just Outside the Tunnel

 

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

 

Come on, little girl…

he sneered as I scurried past,

pulling two big suitcases,

kid sister in tow,

down 42nd Street

just outside the tunnel

where she dropped us off

pushing ten bucks into my hand

on her way to the west side.

 

Those were the days before danger,

before Giuliani,

before I lost my virginity to

"Todd from Exton"

on the train home from New York

to my father's house.

“You fucking creep!

Do you have any idea how old

my daughter is??!!”

he spat into the receiver

while I lay hiding under the blankets

of my pink canopy bed

feigning sleep.

 

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

 

Get high, little girl?

You'd think it was high noon

the way the lights lit up the place,

people spilling out of the theaters

in their furs

after the last show,

while men in trench coats

ducked into windowless doors

under the shadow of the insipid marquis

blinking two and a half red Xs

a glimmer of guilt

in their quickened steps.

 

The days before fear,

before the war on drugs,

before I ran away to Bourbon Street

drinking my way through twelve states

four fiancées

and too many thankless jobs to count.

“What do you mean

I have to tip you out, you fuckwad?

What did you do to protect me

from that creep?”

 

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

Smoke? Blow?

 

Got a dime, little girl?

Focus… focus!

Eyes straight ahead now.

Remember, don't look them in the eye.

Don't look!

Only two more blocks to Times Square

and then it's the shuttle to Grand Central

the four or the six uptown

but not the Express!

And whatever you do don’t go past 86th

because then you'll be in Harlem

and Harlem is no place for you

this time of night.

 

They were the days before love

the days before hate… no strike that

the days before apathy

the days when little girls were safe

from crumbling towers

and angry fucking hurricanes

and pizza kitchen murders

and stupid, stupid, creepy boys.

The days that blend together now

and disappear between the shadows and the lights

on 42nd Street

just outside the tunnel.

 

~Rachel J. Hommel

 

Audio version here.

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Larsen M. Callirhoe

very powerful rachel. i was a pizza kitchen head cook for awhile a pizza hut and a pizza cook at a italian resturant lol. i guess im creepy lol. you will noticethat i write allot of love poetry lol. your poem howa sign to a young sweet girl ho loses her inocence in acrazy fucked up world that manya times shows no love or remorse i can see a pattern in your poems. i lovetony and alekksandra's poetryand im starting to loveand enjoy reading your poetry. i do tendtowrite morethan most have patience for in apoem. thisreminded me pf the late70's or early 80's flick caled gloria. where the bad guyswant to kill a boy whoses family is murderedbby thugs and she protectstheboy andno one willhelp orcare the movie does havea happy ending. i think madonna didaremake of the movie her being the lady that protectstheboy. this is aclassic movie not like the garbagein theathersnowand the filth on tv thesedays.

 

enjoyed it. had a beat and pulsey our poem that took on a life all its own.

Larsen M. Callirhoe

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Thanks, Victor.

 

The pizza kitchen murders happened in New Orleans at The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen in the French Quarter in early 1997. Three men came into the place and got the entire staff into the cooler before killing them and then stealing the cash. They were discovered . It was the same year that the drunk boat captain ran his rice barge into the Riverwalk Mall there just before Christmas.

 

I have seen that movie Gloria. I'm glad this reminded you of it. It captures the feeling I was going for pretty well from what I can recall of the film. I have patience for your poetry. I quite like it, actually.

 

Thank you for the compliment. This was another of those that was written to be read aloud.

 

~Rachel

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Hi Rachel,

 

It is quite long, but not hard to read, I read it from the beginning to the end. I find you have two different channels (maybe more to come) to write your poems - long (as this one) and short (tanka). You have the courage to write about the dark side of the world, straight and blunt to the point. I really like the directness and smoothness in your language.

 

Enjoyable read.

 

Lake

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I find you have two different channels (maybe more to come) to write your poems - long (as this one) and short (tanka).

 

Nope. That's pretty much it... two channels. :))

 

Thanks for the compliment! Much appreciated.

 

~Rachel

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You have the courage to write about the dark side of the world, straight and blunt to the point.

 

Oh, and thanks for this too. That's pretty much how I live my life: blunt and to the point, and exposing the dark side of things to as bright a light as possible.

 

I figure the only reason in the world that bad things happen to people is so that they can help other people when bad things happen to them. This is just one of the ways I do it. And yes, the circular logic in my reasoning is meant to be ironic. :icon_razz:

 

~Rachel

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Fantastic poem and recording, Rachel! I listened while reading along. I especially like how characteristically and consistently you read the refrain.

 

I noticed the discussion of the poem and its likeness to a movie. I have not seen that one, but what comes to my mind is the role of Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver."

 

There's too much good stuff to quote in this poem, but I'd like to point out a particularly vibrant part:

 

Get high, little girl?

You'd think it was high noon

the way the lights lit up the place,

people spilling out of the theaters

in their furs

after the last show,

while men in trench coats

ducked into windowless doors

under the shadow of the insipid marquis

blinking two and a half red Xs

a glimmer of guilt

in their quickened steps.

It masterfully exposes the seedy side of life with an expert blend of prurient and pretentious. But really, the entire poem does that, and the reader is not without empathy.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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It masterfully exposes the seedy side of life with an expert blend of prurient and pretentious. But really, the entire poem does that, and the reader is not without empathy.

 

My face just got really hot from blushing. :icon_redface:

 

Wow. I'm honored by your comments, Tony.

 

Thank you.

 

~Rachel

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