In the serpent’s belly

Serpent, lightworm, subway snaking
under streets and sewers;
while we, its cargo, shoulder next to shoulder,
sit with faces glued to smartphones
traveling in solitude on dreams we carry;
we are same and separate,
trying hard to look the other way,
no glance allowed to meet an eye.
We are well known strangers,
citiscapers, ghosts and unknown dwellers
in the belly of the subway serpent.

A poem quickly scribbled on my way home tonight, for dVerse OLN

September 20, 2018

29 responses to “In the serpent’s belly

  1. This is so good Björn, so accurate to life on the subway, where we merely exist on our journeys, alone yet surrounded by people, ?afraid of eye contact with our fellow travellers, for what reason I know not.
    In my fitter days I would travel to work on the bus – so much more human, where friendships/acquaintances could be established and the drivers knew us, were friendly
    I don’t like the subway serpent for he isolates us.
    Anna :o].

  2. Yes the subway is truly like a serpent. It’s been awhile since I have ridden one. The last one I rode was the Tube in London. Ever since 9-11 I have been leery of riding them in NY city. I like the way you describe the people – all of them immersed in their phones, oblivious to each other. So it goes. We are given a new instrument of communication and use it to not communicate with those around us.

  3. Staring at their phones is a pandemic actually. People walk into phone poles, fall down manholes, watch a play or a film with eyes glued to the pursuit of jeep parts or You-tube scenarios. It makes me sad, but then as a septuagenarian, I miss out on the thrill of multitasking. It’s an issue for teachers as well. See what your dynamic poem has done to me?

  4. I ride this serpent everyday to and from work, smiles. You captured that well known strangers, glued to their phones. For me, I take a catnap. Hope you enjoyed your night of music.

  5. I’ve never ridden in a subway. A product of the wide open spaces, the concept of being captive in a speeding cigar beneath the city streets gives me the vapors! Elevators are somewhat the same, but at least they’re above ground. I was captivated by your description.

  6. Hey Bjorn, And I thought this was just the miserable English… I tend to get more smiles on subways elsewhere in the world. Maybe there all just thinking who is that crazy tourist!!

  7. ‘We are same and separate’ and ‘We are well known strangers, citiscapers, ghosts and unknown dwellers’ says it all…love the title and metaphor of the serpent’s belly.

  8. What an interesting story of familiar strangers in the belly of the subway serpent. I liked this line… traveling in solitude on dreams we carry. This describes today’s generation to a T.!

  9. This is an interesting reflection. These are the lines that called out to me.
    “We are same and separate,
    trying hard to look the other way,”
    Together and living separately – disconnected.
    Thanks for sharing your words.

  10. It is so sad and I fear for the future of social skills or lack thereof.
    “well known strangers” really made me think of how comfortable we have become with it all.

  11. You sure you’re not a Londoner?!! I guess the word ‘subway’ gives your location away.
    It’s so true the way we glance and look away, the way we roll along in the belly of the winding serpent…
    I know the London tube is old… do you know how old the subway system is?
    A universal poem!

  12. It’s so true, but somehow I thought Europe would be different – jovial conversations, merriment when a day’s work was done, a kind of smorgasbord of singing, laughter, friendly interactions, like it is on buses.

  13. A well captured scribble you’ve got here. I remember that before the phone everyone’s head was buried in a book or newspaper. There was still no interaction with the person next to you. That happened only when something crazy happened on the subway.

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