Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm still here

I have a bunch of haiku in the pipeline, and it's all about one thing. I attended Occupy Wall Street's Day of Action in November. It was a very interesting experience, both intellectually and emotionally, and it provided me with a lot of material. Whether you agree with OWS or not (or simply don't care)I hope that you will read my upcoming posts with a sense of objectivity and see them for what they are: one observer's artistic/factual interpretation of what felt like an historic event.

I haven't posted the haiku yet because I saw and heard a lot of things that day that I am still processing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 344: Pipe Down

For the love of God
Stop trying to save our souls
Subway preacher man

Sometimes you can serve your cause better by SHUTTING THE HELL UP ON MY MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 343: Inadvertent Photobomber

No doubt I'll appear
In a dozen Facebook pics
A smirking backdrop

It's all part of the Halloween aftermath.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 342: All Saints

On November First
Last night's revelers awake
With frost-bitten boobs

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 341: Even more Halloween

Sexy schoolgirl squeals
Naughty nurse shivers with cold
Slutty cat looks bored

Sorry to overload with the Halloween haiku, it's just that this is a holiday that provides so much scope for the imagination!

Day 340: Still Halloween

Undeterred by cold
A knot of naughty nurses
Bares goosepimpled flesh

You'd think people in the naughty medical profession would know better than to venture out into 30-degree weather with so little clothing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 339: Halloween, Part I

Perky coeds pose
In slutty Halloween garb
Legs and bellies bare

When it comes to Halloween costumes, the ladies have two (related) options: Sexy ____ and Slutty _____. There's not much difference between the two. Given the ratio of skin to fabric, they just might have to move Halloween to August.

Day 338: Is there an app for that?

A plea for spare change
Loses its effect when you
Pull out your iPhone

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 337: Inside/Outside

Despite the bright sun
Today tastes like heartburn and
Feels like broken glass

To complete the sensory picture, today also sounds like nails on a chalkboard and smells like fresh subway vomit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 336: The Other Cruelest Month

Fall exudes tension
We cling to life, surrounded
By death and decay

Something about autumn makes me feel very keyed up. It's not exactly a bad feeling. I don't fear or dread the winter. It's more of a feeling of anticipation -- but with a strange layer of jitteriness because I don't know quite what I'm anticipating. It's a feeling of imminent change. Does anybody else feel this way?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 335: Dog Days, Part II

Still learning restraint
A novice guide dog lunges
For a dropped cookie

The guide dog on my morning commute was a model of restraint. She was like a big gold smiling statue of a lab. Miraculously, I saw another guide dog in the afternoon! This one was still in training. He was out with his foster father and a young kid, learning how to calmly take the subway. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure this dog's going to make the cut. In the time that I watched him, he flopped on the subway platform and demanded a belly rub, investigated a lot of food detritus, and got his head stuck up the back of a woman's long raincoat.

It was adorable.

Day 334: Dog Days, Part I

The guide dog grins as
If to say "I'm working, but
You should see me fetch"

It is a well known fact that I am obsessed with guide dogs. All working dogs, in fact. I love them. I will move down the subway platform to be closer to them. I know I'm not allowed to pet them and it drives me crazy.

Day 333: On the Ferry

The thick grey blue sky
Presses against the water
I watch from the boat

Intrepid Boyfriend recently said "you know, I used to date this really awesome girl who wrote haikus and posted them online." The fact that I immediately thought "What? Who was she?!" shows that I have been pretty delinquent in posting.

It's not just that I've been busy (which I have), it's also a matter of inspiration. It's unpredictable. I really like this particular haiku because it is more in the vein of traditional Japanese haiku -- nature-centric, no public urination.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 332: F Train Theater

Two tattooed hipsters
Engrossed in a screaming match
Eyes narrowed, lips curled

I think these waifish, well-inked young ladies were roommates. The argument sounded like something this:

Butterfly Arms: "I'm going to be late again because of you! You did this on purpose! Why do you ALWAYS do this?!"

Tribal Designs: "You were going to be late anyway! You spend so much time on your stupid hair! AND you told me to meet you at the 7th Avenue stop, not 15th Street. I was waiting for you there!"

Sappy Butterflies: "I SAID FIFTEENTH! FIFTEENTH!! Admit it, YOU WANTED ME TO BE LATE! You ALWAYS want me to be late! And I didn't even finish doing my hair!!!"(brushes vigorously) "Now my hair looks like SHIT because of you!" (rips large hairball off of brush, throws onto platform, stomps foot) "I HATE YOU!"

Contrived Tribalist: "NO, I HATE YOU!"

And so on. I'm not sure what they were late for that was so important. They were hipsters, so it certainly couldn't have been work.

Day 331: Stink Bomb (Human Version)

A lone dozing man
Fells a dozen commuters
With his heinous gas

I don't know if this guy had a bad breakfast burrito or what, but the stench was horrible enough that the guy next to me covered his face with his newspaper. At one point I started to wonder if he had actually crapped his pants.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 330: Bag lady

If equality
Means I stand on the subway
Bring back sexism

First off, I'm obviously kidding. I hate sexism.

But when I'm coming home from work with two bags of groceries, gym bag, lunch bag, and laptop/work bag, all I want is for one of the (blissfully unencumbered) gents who are studiously avoiding my gaze to offer me a seat on the subway. Guess how often that happens?

This is not a "purse" town. When you commute by public transportation you use your bag the way other people use their cars. Your personal and professional lives have to fit in there -- laptop, power cord, day planner, phone, water bottle, wallet, check book, lip gloss, comb, pens, assorted work papers, work shoes. A dinky little purse isn't going to cut it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 329: Stinkbomb

On a crowded train
A salami sandwich is
A potent weapon

Day 328: Eine Kleine Trainmusik

A tall man with dreads
Coaxes music from a flute
Low and silvery

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 327: Aftermath

Excited children
Scramble over fallen trees
And split sidewalk tiles

If there is one lesson to be learned from severe weather it is that everyone, regardless of age, gender, and ethnic background, loves to gawk at fallen trees. Intrepid Boyfriend and I are no exceptions. Our immediate neighborhood emerged relatively unscathed with two impressive tree casualties and one set of downed power lines. The scariest thing that happened at our place was when one of the scaffolding planks on the front of our building came clattering down on Saturday night. Very noisy, but no damage.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 326: I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

My office lurches
The floor sways from side to side
Like a high-rise boat

It was my first earthquake, and it was frigging scary (and surprisingly nauseating). My office is on the 27th floor of a building that is sandwiched between two very famous NYC landmarks. So when the earthquake hit, we didn't think it was an earthquake. A lot of people are blathering about how everyone over-reacted. All I can say is that we didn't know what had happened and whether it was in the building, and that's when security told us that we were not allowed to leave the floor. Sound familiar? No? Think back about 10 years.

And for all those jerkwads in California saying we're wimps, they can call me back when they get buried under a few pesky feet of snow for the first time.

Day 325: Preparations, Part II

In a town picked clean
I score saint candles in a
Mexican deli

I guess I waited to the last minute for my hurricane prep. We're not in a flood zone, so I figured I would have my pick of supplies. I filled all of our containers and bottles with water and we had plenty of food, but I still wanted to pick up some flashlight batteries and candles.

Forget it. Everyone was sold out of water, batteries, and candles. While walking home I passed a bodega advertising "productos Mexicanos!" with a lot of Jesus paraphernalia in the window. Actually, I've passed it a hundred times and never gone in. Sure enough, they had a WALL full of candles in various shapes, colors, and saints. We'll be weathering the storm with noted vegetarian Martin de Porres, the willingly impoverished Saint Clare of Assisi, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel for good measure.

In a situation like this I think it's best to cover all bases -- but now that I've done a little research I'm kicking myself for not looking for a Saint Christopher candle.

Day 324: Preparations, Part I

Our hatches battened
We fill the tub with water
And await the storm

I haven't even had a chance to write about Tuesday's earthquake yet, and now we have another impending natural disaster on our hands.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 323: Styling Tips

One good gust of wind
And that plastered combover
Reaches for the sky

Midtown is essentially a wind tunnel. It wouldn't have mattered if he'd rubber cemented that thing to his head.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 322: Underground String Trio

Three small children busk
With tiny violins as
Their parents look on

Maybe it was the kids' idea, but something about this little Asian Partridge Family made me vaguely uncomfortable.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 321: Meshuggeneh

An old nut job rants
Blaming a hot, crowded train
On "the lesbians"

I didn't see the connection, but in his mind it was clearly irrefutable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 320: Borough Park girls

Long-sleeved, long-skirted
Four bewigged girls discuss who's
Pregnant and who's not

To them, my life is all bare shoulders and immodesty and misplaced ambition. To me, their life is all baby-making and crockpots and straining within the confines of religion. I can only assume that we're wrong about each other, and probably have a lot more in common than we think.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 319: Confusion and Disappointment

Wait -- are you saying
Lady Liberty is not
On Staten Island?

I like the moment on the Staten Island Ferry when all the tourists on the port side of the ferry realize that the Statute of Liberty is on the starboard side. A stampede ensues. It sort of feels like the whole boat might tip over. The only thing funnier is when someone realizes that the ferry isn't actually going to take them to the Statue of Liberty.

Day 318: Overheard on the Staten Island Ferry

"It's Coney Island!" (wrong)
"The Golden Gate!" (VERY wrong)
"The Bronx!"(New Jersey)

I like to laugh at tourists.

Day 317: Buyer's Remorse?

Do you ever wish
You'd abstained from getting that
Tattoo of Gumby?

It took up his entire arm. I feel like that's the kind of thing where you wake up 5 years later (or the morning after you got it), look in the mirror, and say "dear god, what was I thinking?"

Day 316: Fearless Protector

Sweet old police dog
Hard at work sniffing our bags
And wagging her tail

There is a very serious and distinguished black lab who works at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. I love dogs, and I love labs. And for some reason I love police dogs and guide dogs even more than I love unemployed dogs. I think it's because I'm not allowed to pet them. You know, because they're working.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 315: I am not immune to stereotyping

Oh, German tourists
With your chilly blond good looks
And smug attitudes

I always get the feeling that they are talking about how fat we Americans are.

Day 314: Summertime Jealousy

To we hot adults
Playground sprinklers look like a
Forbidden Eden

On a really hot day the jealousy is palpable.

Day 313: Conundrum

When it's 99
Why would you suck on something
You just set on fire?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 312: Perfect Timing

The beaches are closed
On this summer's hottest day
Thanks to a shit spill

Okay, the beaches weren't technically closed -- it was just a warning not to go in the water because a fire at a sewage treatment facility dumped a whole lot of excrement into the Hudson, where I would be surprised if anyone other than Detective Frank Drebin would notice a difference.

Day 311: Lucky ducks

The hydrant drenches
A flock of sodden children
Splashing and laughing

My jealousy is palpable.

Day 310: It's still too damn hot

I spend half the ride
Hoping that disgusting smell
Isn't my armpits

There's no delicate way to check. And even then, what would I do if I found out it was me?

Day 309: Coping Mechanisms

Swathed in a black dress
A woman beaches herself
On a vacant bench

She wasn't fat or anything, but between her starkly white skin, black dress, and sprawling body, all I could think of was killer whale.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 308: Steamy

A telltale damp streak
Left behind by a behind
It's butt sweat season

If you've ever taken the subway on a day like today you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Day 307: Sweating it out

Summer, a grotesque
Carnival of slick faces
And wilting costumes

The fashion show that is the New York City commute is looking decidedly bedraggled these days. Not surprising, since the mercury reached 103 by noon today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 306: In Mourning

This hard city weeps
For the sweet-faced little boy
Who never came home

Recent events in Kensington, Brooklyn have captured the attention of the entire city, if not the nation. Like any New York neighborhood, Kensington feels like a small town in many ways. You see and interact with the same people on a regular basis. People often smile at one another. There are many, many families with young children.

I know that I frequently link to articles in my haiku, but I prefer not to link to any of the media coverage on this story. I am not comfortable with much of what has been written about the murder of Leiby Kletzky. I feel that it exoticizes the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish communities in a wholly unnecessary way. Many journalists seem to be tacitly blaming Leiby's grieving parents for raising him in an insular community. Some comments sections contain appallingly anti-Semitic language.

If you feel compelled to do so -- and I hope that you do -- please send some kindness and generosity into the universe in any way that you see fit. The universe needs it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 306: Another traumatized vegetarian

Two men push a cart
Full of two whole sides of goat
Raw, red and bony

There is a large Muslim population in our neighborhood, and the Halal butcher and grocery does a brisk business. This is the first time I happened upon a delivery of uncut meat going into a butcher shop. It was surreal. I sincerely hope that this is the last time I happen upon any kind of delivery going into a butcher shop.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 306: Too Damn Hot

The mercury soars
The sun bakes bloated trash bags
Like stinking blisters

How's that for a revolting image?

Day 305: Subway Manicure

She whips out scissors
And snips her son's cuticles
With alarming zeal

Let's have a quick review of acceptable subway behavior, shall we? It's perfectly fine to sit quietly, read, listen to music that is not audible to other people, and avoid interactions with other people. It is not okay to do anything that you would normally do in your own bathroom, including, but in now way limited to, nail clipping, nostril hair trimming, and relieving yourself.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 304: Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

A woman lights up
Outside of Sloan-Kettering
Irony defined

She certainly relished that cigarette.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 303: Rock and Roll

Grizzled metalhead
Like his Motorhead t-shirt
Has seen better days

He'd cut the sleeves off to show off his arms, which were covered in tattoos of big-haired rock stars, flames, the AC/DC logo, and an inexplicable memorial portrait of Waylon Jennings.

I was going to link to Motorhead's official site, but it's kind of scary. Not so much because of the skulls and stuff, but because those guys are pushing 70. Also, it looks like the meth is catching up with them.

Day 302: Reading

Immersed in a book
Her delicate lined face shows
The beauty of age

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 301: Ouch

A long sharp hatpin
Twirls across the subway floor
Looking for a foot

Is your tetanus up to date?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 300: <--------Day 300! Hell yeah!

Sweet coconut bits
Enrobed in burnt sugar, like
Edible jewels

Nuts 4 Nuts is my kryptonite, so let's raise a tiny wax paper bag of sugary deliciousness in celebration.

Day 299: What are you looking at?

That's right, Mr. Ink
Huff and puff when people stare
At your tattooed face

While I'm sure most body art has deep spiritual and artistic significance, I have to assume that at least part of its purpose is to attract attention. If you really don't want people to gawk at your tattoo, get it on your butt.

Day 298: Snow White

Her froth of white hair
Like a crisp shiny meringue
Fresh from the oven

I would rather go snow white than gray, but I'm not sure I want my hair to move into confection-helmet territory.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reader Submission: A Modest Submission from 6feet1

From the very funny 6feet1, who occasionally rants here:

Friend, that subway pole
Is not yours. Hands only, please.
Are you a stripper?

Ah yes, the subway pole dance. As someone who tries really hard not to touch anything on the subway, I don't understand the people who wrap their entire bodies around the pole.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 297: As seen on 42nd Street

A Ghandi-esque man
Pedals a girl's bicycle
Pink streamers flying

That's a new one for me. The man was tall, frail, and clad in a long white tunic and trousers. He rode his pink and white child-sized bike down the crowded sidewalk next to Bryant Park, smiling and waving his best Queen Elizabeth wave. There's a story there.

Day 296: Growing pains, part II

This city treats you
Like a standoffish lover
You can't bear to leave

Anybody else ever feel that way about this place?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 295: Growing Pains

New York breaks your heart
Then patches it together
With one kind gesture

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 294: The fashion show continues

That is not a dress
It might be a tourniquet
But it's not a dress

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 293: Summer fashion

That skirt would be small
On a woman half your size
On you it's a belt

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 292: Lady Luck

A moment of hope
The frantic scratching of a
Lottery ticket

Better luck next time, man.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 291: Tick tick

A droopy baby
All ringlets and chubby legs
Rubs his sleepy eyes

I'm not very interested in babies, but for some reason this little cherub awakened all the emotions that I usually reserve for Cairn terriers.

Day 290: Is this heaven?

The girl in cutoffs
And her blond, corn-fed husband
Look like Iowa

I've never been to Iowa, but I've had a good feeling about it since 1989. Why 1989? Because that's when Field of Dreams came out.

I'm guessing these fresh-faced kids were transplants from someplace where no one throws bags of chicken carcasses out the kitchen window and public urination is minimal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 289: Need a tissue?

A red-eyed woman
Wipes her nose on her head scarf
Then sneezes on it

As a frequent sinus infection sufferer, I definitely know the "any port in a storm" feeling that happens when you're caught without a tissue. I've turned to napkins, stray pieces of paper, fossilized purse tissues, even large maple leaves. But I've always made on effort to clean my drippy nose with things that were not attached to my person.

Also, I really should have a tag for "hygiene." So much of my haiku involves nail clipping and nose-blowing.

Day 288: Everyone's a Tour Guide

An old New Yorker
Advises French tourists on
Sites not to be missed

She was a leggy Black woman in short shorts with a heavy French accent and two friends who didn't speak any English. He was a silver-haired man with a yarmulke and a briefcase. They were so engrossed in their conversation that it looked like they knew each other well. Then I realized she was holding a guidebook and he was saying stuff like "you HAVE to go to the top of the Empire State Building. That's where I proposed to my wife! Oh, and the Botanic Garden -- don't miss it!"

As much as we all love to hate tourists (and I work in Midtown, so I'm usually not pretending), I defy you to find a New Yorker capable of turning down the chance to brag about something we've got that they don't have anywhere else.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 287: Nobody likes a litterbug

If you're throwing trash
Out of your car window, then
Please start with yourself

Because anyone who flings a handful of dirty tissues out their window at an intersection is a real class act.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 286: Super Fresh

Her shirt screams "SEXY!!"
And she's got a Conway bag
Full of Summer's Eve

I didn't even know they still made that stuff. Granted, she bought it at Conway, where it could have been sitting in the basement next to the mattresses since 1987.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 285: Stink Memory

You got off the train
But you left something behind
We can still smell you

Summer in New York begs the question: can you die from an odor?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 284: Heat Wave

Welcome to New York's first official heat wave of the year.

We swim through the streets
Choking on humidity
And collective funk

I have no delusions about remaining fresh as a daisy on my commute when the mercury hits 80. Once it hits 95, I no longer have the energy to be embarrassed about my pit stains.

We can't install our A/C unit because they are doing construction on the front of our building and all it will do is suck in dusty construction air. Also, there is a very real possibility that it will be knocked out by falling bricks. I'm safely at work, where I can enjoy air conditioned splendor. Patient Boyfriend has strict instructions to relocate to the public library (with both cats in tow) if it gets too hot. That should be interesting.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 283: Variations on a theme

Somewhere under the
East River, Brooklyn begins
And welcomes you home

With a resounding ear pop, in my case. But maybe that's just because I have weird Eustachian tubes. And if you don't already love Brooklyn, these amusing/ridiculous signs brought to you by local buffoon and perennial borough president Marty Markowitz just might win you over.

P.S. Many people insist that no one in Brooklyn actually says "Fuhgeddaboutit." Those people have never met my pharmacist.

Day 282: Subtle Signals

Far underwater
You can hear the difference
Between the boroughs

Riding the F train through the underwater stretch between East Broadway (Manhattan) and York Street (Brooklyn) always makes my ears pop a few times. Whenever I am coming home I feel an immense and inexplicable relief when the train leaves Manhattan (although I get antsy if I think too much about being in a tunnel underwater). I pretty sure the pop is the sound that the invisible underwater line separating the two boroughs makes when you cross it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 281: Vulnerability

Without my iPod
My commuting bubble breaks
Leaving me exposed

Sometimes technology creates a protective shell with which we are loath to part.

If you take out your headphones, people might try to engage you in conversation or ask you for directions. The horror.

Day 280: The Fever

It is good to share
Except when you're listening
To Justin Bieber

Take a stand against iPod headphone leakage. In related news, I love this story from the Times a few years ago.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 279: Planning ahead

Two mothers make lists
Of the things their kids will work
Out in therapy

I'm not a parent, but I already have a mental list going on the off chance that I do have a child one day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 278: Tweezerman

You reach in your nose
Grasp a nose hair and yank with
Obvious gusto

He was really enjoying himself.

Day 277: Smoke and mirrors

A seat opens up
I gleefully slide away
From your hacking cough

Smoker's cough knows no season.

On the subject of smoking, kudos to NYC for banning smoking in public parks. Ku-DON'Ts to Mayor Bloomberg for expecting regular people to enforce it. I was at the Boathouse over the weekend and a surly bikini-clad young woman lit up an obligatory American spirit. I toyed with the idea of reminding her that it's now illegal to smoke in parks, but she looked like she could have kicked my ass.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 276: Good fortune?

Gray hairs dangle from
The mole on her aged jaw
And brush her shoulder

Living in close quarters with 8 million people, you see a lot of interesting faces. I could not take my eyes off the large mole on this woman's face. It wasn't so much the mole itself as the prodigious amount of hair growing out of it, lazily twisting all the way to her collarbone. Part of me sees something like this and thinks "you are awesomely unique and I'm glad you celebrate that." The other part wants to offer her tweezers.

I had seen a man with a similarly epic mole years ago, also on the subway. Both the man and the woman were older Asian people. So I did a little research. Did you know that in traditional Chinese culture, facial moles are used in a form of divination? Depending on its placement a mole can be a source of great luck.

I hope that this woman's mole renders her uncommonly lucky.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Reader Submission from Deb in NYC

A haiku about someone at work:

Her heart radiates
Warmth like an old gym sock that
Somebody pooped in

Well. We all know someone like that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 275: You stink

Biting and acrid
The smell of stale cigarettes
Leaks out of your pores

One of the most difficult aspects of mass transit is the inescapable barrage of odors.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 274: Hey stud

It's hard to look tough
When your wallet chain connects
To a fanny pack

It was studded -- just like his belt, jacket, and boots. He looked like the unlikely offspring of Joan Jett and a soccer mom.

Day 273: Again?

Please explain why I am a
Subway barf magnet

Twice in one week? Really? I am now officially terrified of mass transit.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 272: Rude Awakening

"A" for effort but
8AM is too early
For accordions

But maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 271: Fashion Sense

The last thing I see
As I drift off to sleep is
Your ill-fitting pants

I don't like pleats on men.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 270: Living the Nightmare

The doors slide open
You burst forth and unleash the
Contents of your gut

It could have been worse. It could have happened on me. I'm pretty sure I need to start traveling in a bubble.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 269: The Cruelest Month

Spring seems far away
When April is a cold joke
Sent to break your heart

Hopefully by the time this haiku auto-posts in a few days it will be sunny and in the 70s, and I will eat my words.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 268: Snnnrrrrkkkkk

With a phlegmy snort
You clear your clogged sinuses
Next to my left ear

Sometimes all I want is a little personal space.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 267: Covert Ops

You think you're so sly
Picking your nose with your thumb
But it's obvious

This is why I don't touch anything, ever, on the subway if I can possibly avoid it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 266: LATFH

Lanky hipster boy
How'd you get those mammoth feet
Through your skinny jeans?

They must have been jeggings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I would just like to point out that I have officially written and published a whopping 265 haiku. Sure, I'm significantly behind schedule, but I'm only 100 haiku away from my original goal of 365!

Day 265: Snow?

Like winter's last storm
A cascade of flaky white
Blankets your shoulders

I try not to mock people's personal appearances (well, at least not the aspects they can't control), but sometimes I feel the need to report on certain things in a detached pseudo-journalistic manner just because they are so striking. This woman's dandruff was one of those things. Like so many things in New York, it was both impressive and disgusting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 264: Subway Psychology 101: How Not to Flirt

You know you've struck out
When the girls get off the train
Just to avoid you

There are a few very simple unwritten rules of mass transit. One of the most important ones is that you never stand or sit closer to anyone than is absolutely necessary. It doesn't matter if you look like this guy; you will creep people out if you get too close.

This schlubby guy across from me was trying really hard to chat up an attractive young woman who wanted nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, like so many women she was compulsively polite about it. This let him think he had a chance. She rushed off at the next stop in a blatant Leave-Me-Alone Subway Car Switcharoo*. The guy slid theatrically down the bench seat so that he was next to another woman. He said "hellooo beautiful" and tried again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This man lives in a sweet oblivion about his own attractiveness.

* Other similar maneuvers include the Broken A/C in August, the Every Inch of this Car is Covered in Urine, the Is That a Dead Body?, and the Oh My God, Someone Just Puked.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 263: Subway Geology

Subway stalactites
Reach for unsuspecting heads
Slowly, saltily

I haven't been able to get a decent picture of these soda straw-like ceiling formations. You can find them in many of the older stations, wherever the water drips after it rains.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 262: More Unmentionables

Old school girdles and
Voluminous underpants
Sold by two old men

I forgot to mention that Mattie paid me one of the kindest compliments ever. After we'd been chatting for a long time he paused, smiled, and said "You're a very good listener. Something about you just makes me want to tell you these stories. "

Aw, shucks. Blush.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 261: Old is the New New

Surrounded by change
An old man tells tales of a
Neighborhood that was

The first thing you should know is that I hate shopping. The second thing you should know is that I loathe going to a giant store when all I need are black socks. Imagine my delight when I read this article about a tiny old shop in nearby Carroll Gardens (the author says Cobble Hill. She's wrong.) that could help me to avoid the soul-sucking abyss that is Target. So I went.

Honestly, it was love at first sight. There are boxes of unmentionables stacked to the ceiling, you can buy a floral-print house dress for $8 (I may be back for one -- don't judge), and the sock selection is excellent. I am also now lifelong friends with co-owner Matty, age 83, who spent about an hour telling me stories about the shop, his clientele, and his long Brooklyn life. He was surprised and tickled pink to hear that his shop was mentioned in the Times. You can read an even better article about the shop (with pictures) here on a local blog.

So if you like cheap dry goods and old-timey stories, pay a visit to Marietta -- and encourage Matty to write a book!

I had so much fun that I wrote two haiku. Check back tomorrow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 260: Subway Psychology 201: All the World's a Stage

Watch the angry queen
Sing to his reflection, then
Try to pick a fight

I was on the long, long ride back from Queens. The guy across from me was deeply involved in serenading himself in the window behind me. I'm not sure what he was listening to, but his performance involved a lot of finger pointing, feigned tears, and coy looks. Then he caught the eye of the guy next to me, and this happened:

Male Diva (in drawling Queens accent): "You wanna fight?"

Confused Guy: blank stare

He-va: "You don't like me? You don't like what I'm doing?!"

: blank stare

Angry Sputtering Queen
: "Because you don't control me! YOU don't control ME! I CONTROL ME!"

The obvious response was "barely," but I kept my mouth shut. The queen continued his elaborate pantomime until Rockefeller Center, with the addition of frequent obscene gestures aimed at Mr. Blank Stare.

And this, my friends, is why you never make eye contact on the train.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

(B)rain delay

I know I've been delinquent in posting lately. Believe it or not, I have a tidy little backlog of haiku just waiting to be posted, but I've had some other things on my plate -- like starting a brand spankin' new genuine full-time job. That's right. I'm employed. As a lawyer.

Luckily for you, I spend about two hours on the subway most days and considerably more when they send me out to Jamaica.* I hope the F train is prepared for my keen eye and rapier wit.

*For those of you who were about to get jealous, I'm not talking about this Jamaica. I'm talking about this Jamaica.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

260: Unwelcome guests

Film production crews?
Here in sleepy Kensington?
Go back to Park Slope

Film crews show up in adjacent neighborhoods all the time, turning the Victorian mansions of Ditmas Park into the Hamptons or having the brownstones of Park Slope stand in for a Manhattan that doesn't actually exist. But at the corner of Albemarle and East 5th? Either they're working on a reality show about elderly Russians or they took a wrong turn.

Also, if you're like me and you love this kind of thing, check out this great map. Props to the 11218 for its diversity.

Day 259: So shines a good deed in a weary world

I'm a slow runner
You held the G train for me
I think I'm in love

And yes, I just mentioned Shakespeare and the MTA in the same breath.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 258: Finally.

Spring's first daffodil
Bobs its golden teacup head
And scoffs at winter

Daffodils make me think of three profoundly unrelated things: Easter, the Holocaust, and Willy Wonka.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 257: Shiny

Cloaked in pearly mist
The Chrysler Building presides
Like a sentinel

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 256: Onomato-pee-a

The raving man shouts
"Yo man, I got one kidney!"
Unzip. Splash splash splash.

After a few minutes of accusing his fellow passengers of excessive interest in his manhood, the fellow made the aforementioned proclamation and lurched out the emergency exit into the space between the moving cars (illegal). Then he peed, yelling and waving one fist at us all the while. He reentered the car, returned to his seat, and ranted at some young women about their excessive interest in his manhood.

There are two takeaways here:

1. Public urination is never okay.

2. I think I speak for women everywhere when I make the following announcement:

Dear men: women are not currently, never have been, and never will be nearly as interested in your penises as you think we are. In fact, we will never be HALF as interested in your penises as you are. Accept this fact and move on with your lives.

Day 255: Subway fashion

She's a mystery
Wrapped in brown, gold, cream, and teal
Showing just her eyes

I love how a woman will get on the train wearing a miniskirt, 4-inch heels, and a halter top (in 35 degree weather) and sit next to a woman wearing flowing hijab. I guess I like contrast.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 254: Angry Commuters in 5...4...3...

A glass of green goo?
What a great idea for
Your morning commute!

Yesterday morning I watched a skinny, irate woman elbow her way onto an extraordinarily crowded 2 train. This is not an uncommon site, but this woman was brandishing a tall glass of green goop. Not a lidded plastic take-out cup, mind you. A big, open, breakable kitchen glass filled to the brim with what I think was frog spawn. It even had a spoon in it -- you know, if by chance her fellow commuters weren't wearing enough goo within the first few stops, and she decided to engage the catapult.

I waited for the next train.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 253: Overkill

Seven rosaries
Seem like more than enough for
One tough teenage neck

I like to think that he put the sixth enormous rosary (big wooden beads and a huge wooden crucifix) around his neck, looked in the mirror, and thought "something's missing..." Then he put on the seventh one (chunky gold with a giant faux-diamond-encrusted Jesus head) and said "that's it!"

And yes, I counted.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 252: Let's Call Him Leonardo

Either that is the
Largest rat I've ever seen
Or a chihuahua

Ever since the MTA rerouted the train to bypass my stop (I think you have to live here to fully appreciate the complex ripples of suck generated by this decision) I have had to walk one stop in the wrong direction to catch the Manhattan-bound F. This has introduced me to Rattus Gigantopithecus Churchus Avenuensis: a breed of rats so enormous, I can only speculate that they were once exposed to radioactive materials and now spend their days eating pizza and fighting crime.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 251: Blast from the past

I found this written on a piece of notebook paper dated 8/29/08:

Life with phobias
Like sharing a small chair with
A large porcupine

It's a deviation from my usual haiku themes, but I like it. Plus, anyone with a debilitating, life-governing phobia will understand exactly what I mean.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 250: Bombardment

Chubby-faced boys hurl
Snowballs at the B16
The driver just sighs

I get the sense that this happens to him a lot.

Day 249: Camouflage

A brown paper bag
Hides your giant can of beer
But not very well

Come on, you can do better than that. If you really want to distract your fellow subway riders from that illicit 40, carry a five-foot tall staff with a roach clip shaped like a dragon on the end (something that I have seen on the subway; unfortunately, I was unable to come up with a haiku that really captured the moment).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 248: Dusk in the Park

The serenity
Of a vast frozen lake meets
A violet sky

Add a soundtrack of cooing ducks, and you've got a rather nice wintry scene.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 247: Kids Today

Teenage lips nibble
As eager hands grope and paw
When did I get old?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 246: Splash

Stoicly we trudge
Plodding through the knee-deep drifts
And fording curb cuts

Some days I wish I had a skiff.

Day 245: Subway Baubles

An ant in amber
Graces your knobby finger
Suspended in time

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 244: Revisiting an Old Theme

If I can see where
Your tights become control top
Your shorts are too short

I know that I have addressed this issue more than once, but it seemed worth mentioning again because this time it was a guy.

Day 243: Nighttime Walk

Our careful footsteps
Whisper in snowy silence
Breaking winter's spell

I've been jotting down haiku in my day planner, but never quite getting around to posting. Sorry for the accidental hiatus. I'm working to remedy that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 242: Out of Season

Cotton candy man
Peddles his colorful wares
On a frozen street

He does a brisk business in front of the elementary school come spring. I guess he's looking to get a head start.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 241: Venturing Out

Like bedraggled ghosts
Remnants of the winter storm
Hulk along the curbs

I missed the winter storm on account of having pneumonia in Buffalo, but there are cars on our block that are still buried. Even though most of the snow from the original big storm has melted (I'm sure Bloomberg is taking full credit for that). It's like their owners just gave up and said "What the hell? We can take the train until spring."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 240: Uninspired but Well-Rested

I am still alive
But I have nothing to say
And I'm really bored

I have been under house arrest for the past week in an attempt to clear my lungs. I am no longer sleeping 20 hours a day and coughing the other four, which is a nice improvement. Instead, I am very, very, very bored. The doctor warned me this would happen. I think her exact words were "In two weeks you'll feel a lot better, but DO NOT DO ANYTHING AT ALL or the pneumonia will come back. You're going to be really bored." I still get winded if I try to do something strenuous, like sweep the floor (!), but I was allowed to take a supervised 5-block walk yesterday. Since the walk culminated in Thai takeout, it was easily the highlight of my recent life.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 239: Wheezing in the New Year

My constricted lungs
Rob me of my words and leave
Me gasping for air

I still have pneumonia. There is nothing very poetic about a lung ailment that involves wheezing, phlegmy coughs, and exhaustion. On the bright side, I could probably clear half a subway car and get a seat to myself with said wheezy, phlegmy cough. That is, is I were allowed to leave the house.

Also, and I really can't emphasize this enough, don't even contemplate getting pneumonia if you don't have health insurance. If I had known how pricey these chest x-rays, IV antibiotics, and designer cough syrups would be I would have chosen a cheaper illness.

I also have two more weeks of modified bed rest to look forward to. I can't imagine I will find very much inspiration in my apartment, but I will do my best to post some haiku.