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Famous Subway Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Subway poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous subway poems. These examples illustrate what a famous subway poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Hughes, Langston
...else to go, homeless and hungry
 ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags--
(Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good

Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers--
 sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a
 long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.
They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria. Look at the menu, will 

 SMALL ONION...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...changing memories
"He taught me to meditate, now I'm an old veteran of the thousand
 day retreat --"
"I played music on subway platforms, I'm straight but loved him he 
 loved me"
"I felt more love from him at 19 than ever from anyone"
"We'd lie under covers gossip, read my poetry, hug & kiss belly to belly 
 arms round each other"
"I'd always get into his bed with underwear on & by morning my 
 skivvies would be on the floor"
"Japanese, always wanted take it up my bum with a...Read More

by Lehman, David
and the pleasure of seeing Paul
and you, too, Elaine, whom
I never get to see often enough
in our own city of the subway series
the champagne gallery and
the tech wreck on wall street,
and as I look out the window
almost any minute I expect
the brokers to fall from the sky
like Icarus in Brughel's painting in
Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts"
(and so back to work)...Read More

by Corso, Gregory only imagine
 Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope
 a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter 
 Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend
 Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs
 Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags
 Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail
 Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train
 The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
 Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath
...Read More

by Ginsberg, Allen
...ns in the roaring winter dusks of Brook- 
 lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, 
who chained themselves to subways for the endless 
 ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine 
 until the noise of wheels and children brought 
 them down shuddering mouth-wracked and 
 battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance 
 in the drear light of Zoo, 
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's 
 floated out and sat through the stale beer after 
 noon in des...Read More

by St Vincent Millay, Edna
...ual way, 
 That you were gone, not to return again— 
Read from the back-page of a paper, say, 
 Held by a neighbor in a subway train, 
How at the corner of this avenue 
 And such a street (so are the papers filled) 
A hurrying man—who happened to be you— 
 At noon to-day had happened to be killed, 
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry 
 Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place— 
I should but watch the station lights rush by 
 With a more careful interest on my face, 
Or rai...Read More

by Service, Robert William
...rutal for me.
My nerve's on the raw and I don't give a damn
For all the "hoorah" that I see.
I'm pinned between subway and overhead train,
Where automobillies swoop down:
Oh, I want to go back to the timber again --
I'm scared of the terrible town.

I want to go back to my lean, ashen plains;
My rivers that flash into foam;
My ultimate valleys where solitude reigns;
My trail from Fort Churchill to Nome.
My forests packed full of mysterious gloom,
My ice-fields...Read More

by Lehman, David
...I was about to be mugged by a man 
with a chain so angry he growled
at the Lincoln Center subway station
when out of nowhere appeared a tall
chubby-faced Hasidic Jew with peyot
and a black hat a black coat white shirt
with prayer-shawl fringes showing 
we walked together out of the station
and when we got outside and shook hands 
I noticed he was blind. Goodbye,
I said, as giddy as a man waking
from an anesthetic in the recovery room,
happy, ...Read More

by Ashbery, John
...owledge of what it would be like.
Everything, from eating watermelon or going to the bathroom
or just standing on a subway platform, lost in thought
for a few minutes, or worrying about rain forests,
would be affected, or more precisely, inflected
by my new attitude.I wouldn't be preachy,
or worry about children and old people, except
in the general way prescribed by our clockwork universe.
Instead I'd sort of let things be what they are
while injecting them with ...Read More

by Sandburg, Carl

They laugh at the cost.
They lift the birdmen into the blue.
It is steel a motor sings and zooms.

In the subway plugs and drums,
In the slow hydraulic drills, in gumbo or gravel,
Under dynamo shafts in the webs of armature spiders,
They shadow-dance and laugh at the cost.

The ovens light a red dome.
Spools of fire wind and wind.
Quadrangles of crimson sputter.
The lashes of dying maroon let down.
Fire and wind wash out the slag.
Forever...Read More

by McKay, Claude
...Far down, down through the city's great, gaunt gut, 
The gray train rushing bears the weary wind; 
In the packed cars the fans the crowd's breath cut, 
Leaving the sick and heavy air behind. 
And pale-cheeked children seek the upper door 
To give their summer jackets to the breeze; 
Their laugh is swallowed in the deafening roar 
Of captive wind that m...Read More

by Sexton, Anne
...I do
march over him with my index finger.
His mouth and his anus are one.
I am at the center of feeling.

A subway train is
traveling across my crossbow.
I have a blood bolt
and I have made it mine.
With this man I take in hand
his destiny and with this gun
I take in hand the newspapers and
with my heat I will take him.
he will bend down toward me
and his veins will tumble out
like children... Give me
his flag and his eye.
Give me his h...Read More

by Tzara, Tristan lick the salt lilies 
my son
my son
let us always shuffle through the colour of the world
which looks bluer than the subway and astronomy
we are too thin
we have no mouth
our legs are stiff and knock together
our faces are formeless like the stars
crystal points without strength burned basilica
mad : the zigzags crack
bite the rigging liquefy
the arc
towards the north through its double fruit
like raw flesh
hunger fire blood...Read More

by Piercy, Marge, not pretty enough.

Blown with yesterday’s papers through the boiled coffee morning
we dream of the stop on the subway without a name,
the door in the heart of the grove of skyscrapers,
that garden where we nestle to the teats of a furry world,
lie in mounds of peony eating grapes,
and need barter ourselves for nothing.
not by the hour, not by the pound, not by the skinful,
that party to which no one will give or sell us the key
though we have all thought briefly ...Read More

by Levertov, Denise
...Those groans men use
passing a woman on the street
or on the steps of the subway

to tell her she is a female
and their flesh knows it,

are they a sort of tune,
an ugly enough song, sung
by a bird with a slit tongue

but meant for music?

Or are they the muffled roaring
of deafmutes trapped in a building that is
slowly filling with smoke?

Perhaps both.

Such men most often 
look as if groan were all they could do,
yet a woma...Read More

by Sexton, Anne
...For months my hand was sealed off
in a tin box. Nothing was there but the subway railings.
Perhaps it is bruised, I thought,
and that is why they have locked it up.
You could tell time by this, I thought,
like a clock, by its five knuckles
and the thin underground veins.
It lay there like an unconscious woman
fed by tubes she knew not of.

The hand had collapse,
a small wood pigeon
that had gone into seclusion....Read More

by Crane, Hart
...took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And ...Read More

by Nash, Ogden detests unexpected guests,
That's how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That's how you're love by me....Read More

by Thomas, Dylan and madam,
The cancer's fashion, or the summer feather
Lit on the cuddled tree, the cross of fever,
Not city tar and subway bored to foster
Man through macadam.

I dump the waxlights in your tower dome.
Joy is the knock of dust, Cadaver's shoot
Of bud of Adam through his boxy shift,
Love's twilit nation and the skull of state,
Sir, is your doom.

Everything ends, the tower ending and,
(Have with the house of wind), the leaning scene,
Ball of the foot depending ...Read More

by Nash, Ogden
You convert yourself 
Into a deadly missle, 
You exhale Hello’s 
Like a steamboat wistle. 
You sneeze in the subway 
And you cough at dances, 
And let everybody else 
Take their own good chances.
You’re a bronchial boor, 
A bacterial blighter, 
And you get more invitations
Than a gossip writer. 

Yes, your throat is froggy, 
And your eyes are swimmy, 
And you hand is clammy, 
And you nose is brimmy, 
But you woo my girls 
And their hearts you jimmy 
While I...Read More

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