[ a subway ride ]
By Joseph O. Legaspi
His artfully unkempt strawberry blonde head sports outsized headphones. Like a contemporary bust. Behold the innocence of the freckles, ripe pout of cherry lips. As if the mere sight of the world hurts him, he squints greenly and applies saline drops. You dream him crying over you. For the duration of a subway ride you fall blindly in love. Until he exits. Or you exit, returning home to the one you truly love to ravish him.
About the Poem
This is not the typical poem that I post. It does not have the usual poetic structure that I prefer. The only structure seems to be that the poem is justified, not aligned on the left or right margin. I probably don’t need to explain this but when you justify text, you give your text straight edges on both sides of the paragraph. Justifying extends each line of your text to the left and right margins. Justifying text might make the last line of text in a paragraph considerably shorter than the other lines. I have to wonder if the justifying of the text is an allegory itself. Sometimes poets use the structure of a poem for a particular purpose. It might be the case with this poem. Maybe the text is justified because the poet is justifying his short-lived obsession with the strawberry blonde he sees on the subway. I think sometimes we feel guilty over carnal thoughts about other men, but we shouldn’t. Yet, the poet describes the man as innocent because of his “freckles, ripe pout of cherry lips.”
Then again, the poem may have just come to Legaspi as he was riding the subway and saw a handsome young man near him. Whether there is a hidden meaning or just a fleeting thought put to paper, I like the “story” that it tells. I think the poem itself is self-explanatory. We have probably all been there and had these same thoughts.
About the Poet
Joseph O. Legaspi was born in the Philippines, where he lived before immigrating to Los Angeles with his family at age twelve. He received a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. A Fulbright scholar and two-time NYSCA/New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow, Legaspi is the author of Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017) and Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award; and the chapbooks Postcards (Ghost Bird Press, 2019); Aviary, Bestiary (Organic Weapon Arts, 2014); and Subways (Thrush Press, 2013). In 2004, he cofounded Kundiman, a national organization serving generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. He works at Columbia University, teaches at New York University and Fordham University, and lives with his husband in Queens, New York.