1999-07-23 / Letters

Ode To The ‘A’ Train

Dear Editor;

Wave editorials and the Bag of Mail frequently mention the much maligned ‘A’ train service to and from Rockaway. Granted it’s slow, not very clean and, this time of year, most cars are like a sauna.

Yet one daily commuter, a 16 year old high school junior, found that riding the ‘A’ train for the past three years has opened his eyes to the plight of people and places that he wasn’t exposed to growing up in the insular communities of the Rockaways and Broad Channel.

Moved by the pathos (and often the proud determination) of "street people," ‘A’ train mainstays, this teenager has been known to willingly give his lunch money to subway hucksters in exchange for conversation or a brief smile. In the following poem, written about (and while riding) the ‘A’ train, he asks that we all count our blessings.

The Saxophone Man

This goes out to the man on the train.

He smells like piss. That’s part of the pain.

His clothes are old, tattered and torn;

His hair not cleaned since the day he was born.

Now he’s back to what he started saying

When he fell to the ground and began praying.

Preaching to God, he thanked He was there

To guide him along his life of despair.

He questioned the wars and the murders and killing;

Why he couldn’t get a meal that was filling.

He looked straight into some old lady’s eyes.

She just turned and pretended it was all lies.

He pulled out his sax and started to play;

Sounded like Christmas songs though ‘twas late in May.

I didn’t know what the hell he was doing,

Tilting and curving all the time he was moving.

Then he whipped out a cup and started to plead.

Just a little change; that’s all he would need.

When I looked in his eyes, I could see all the sorrow

That filled his heart all the day and the morrow.

However, he struggled and fought for his life.

All the pain could end with just one little knife.

He never gave up. That’s what this story’s about.

So why do you complain and start to pout?

When you slip or start to stutter,

Just take one glance in the streets and the gutter.

You’ll see a million people who live this way.

They just want a chance. That’s all they say.

I’ve not seen the saxophone man in two years.

I just hope these words will reach his ears.

MIKE LOUIS

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