Implacable Force


 There’s no AA for stealing buses and trains.—Darius McCollum,
 convicted 30 times for impersonating transit system operators

I get caught, I do my time. I am released.
It’s not so hard to steal a subway train.
I memorized the routes, befriended transit workers.
My first success—age 15—the Lex express to Wall Street.

To steal a bus or train is not so hard.
Stabbed in the back in second grade, I retreated into trains.
At age 15, my first success—a Lex express to Wall Street.
I watch for bus drivers heading to the restroom.

Stabbed in the back when I was eight, I retreated into trains.
I know the drill for changing shifts, I’ve got uniforms and keys.
I watch for motormen taking smoke breaks.
To steal, one must mingle with routine.

I know the shift-change drill, I own uniforms and keys.
I do not speed or deviate from scheduled stops.
Successful stealing is to mingle with routine.
Passengers don’t know it’s me who’s in control.

I never speed or deviate from scheduled stops.
To brake a racing train is to master implacable force.
It’s me who’s in control—the passengers don’t know.
Harper’s told my story, photographed my stabbing scar.

To master implacable force is to brake a racing train.
My friends were transit workers; I memorized the routes.
Harper’s did an article, showed my stabbing scar.
I do my time, I am released. I get caught.

Previous Lives, Red Mountain Press, 2018