crowds converge on the city by the thousands
hour after morning hour, they track past littered woods
and fences corralling patios and pools
into neat suburban rectangles that flicker off
before the mind can fully grasp their heft

every few minutes, doors open, doors close
Patchogue, Speonk, Ronkonkoma, Massapequa, Manhasset —
town names borrowed from Native tribes who walked
the dirt paths now buried under the steel, tar and concrete
that propel life forward without a sideways glance

neatly pressed commuters crammed into routine seats
stare at screens, sip coffee until the rocking
lulls them into sleep, only to startle them awake
when the engines enter the tunnel beneath the East River
and accelerate on a wave of city energy

they screech to a stop in Penn Station, the hub —
a centrifuge that will spin the hordes out in all directions
and eight hours later reel them in,
crumpled and weary, to await the caravans
that will rock them back to breathing

Emily-Sue Sloane ( is an award-winning Long Island poet whose work appears in journals, including Amethyst Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Suffolk County Poetry Review, Long Island Quarterly, and anthologies, including Corona, Never Forgotten: 100 Poets Remember 9/11 and Trees in a Garden of Ashes: Poetry of Resilience.