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BMT Class War

When they made the tunnels
Over fifty guys died;
That was a long time ago
But just this morning
There was a knife fight under East River.

Though the doors slid open under Union Square
No one got on there
And the knives didn’t make a sound.

Then under 34th Street the shocked commuters
Found blood at their feet.
It was a lot like the pictures in the Daily News
Under their arms:
Two guys / broken glass
Lotta blood / both dead

On the BMT.
Looks like it’s a class war
On the N QB double-R downtown:
All the shocked commuters of NYC!

Maybe today there is something on the rails,
Something in the trapped air in the tunnels.
That fight was early in the morning but now,
Later on the very same day,
On the same subway line,
The music girl is pushed on the tracks.
That hand / pointing crosstown
Calls more shit down on the troubled neighborhoods;
Puts more writing on the wall with a spray can
And having sprayed, moves up -
Uptown

On the BMT.
Looks like it’s a race war
On the N QB double-R downtown:
All the shocked commuters of NYC!

Coulda been the heat on the BMT
Or the smell of the pee and the ozone.
Maybe the thought of a fare increase
Was on everyone’s mind.
It coulda been the 200-point type on the Daily News,
Or the suicide centerpiece;
Maybe it was the thoughts
Of the people from the suburbs.

A cop walks in
And walks back out again;
The lights are dim.
We’re under Harlem -
we’re under Harlem River

On the BMT.
Looks like it’s a class war
On the N QB double-R downtown;
All the shocked commuters of NYC!

Mike Enright, c. 1979-80