Tyler Barton



This is a moment in your life. There is a subway car you’re in stopped dead on what feels like the dead center of Brooklyn Bridge. There is the East River below you and there are some mutant fish and dead bodies below that and this is a moment in your life. There is a child unguardianed selling graying chocolate bars in the subway car. There is the word HERSHEL’S in white lettering on the candy’s brown paper in his hand. There is a pole he won’t hold on to and a spot on the floor that’s felt the falling weight of him six times. There is an old but continually refreshed blue bruise on his assbone. There is seven dollars and fifty cents in quarters in his zipped-closed jacket pocket. There is a candy bar in the hand of ten different people on this stopped subway car and one is a woman in a caution yellow puff-jacket. There is chocolate on her upper lip and half a bar in her left hand melting and she’s frowning over the East River. There is a jolt forward followed by an abrupt brake every few minutes and the kid goes falling and the change applauds loudly and this is a moment in your life. There are other trains connected to yours. Through the window of the one in front of you there is a man who can be seen standing with his one hand on the pole and a box of chocolate bars in his other. There is the salesboy looking through the window at this man. There is the man’s gaze that never looks back in the direction of your car.


This is a moment in your life on a subway car that smells of shit. There is an unspoken but unanimous agreement between the twelve-person huddle of passengers clumped together at the front half of the car that the smell is of human shit. There are people standing so close together it appears they are on each other’s feet. There is an empty rest of the car except for the man down at the other end bundled in a coat and surrounded by full black bags. There is a black-wire pushcart. This is a moment in your life. There is a street above the ground and a sky above that where rain falls from. There are some drops of it that seep down through and leak onto the rushing subway car that smells like shit. There is the huddle mass and there is each with their own personal method of coping with the odor. There is a woman in a black peacoat scratching her septum. There is an old man in an orange knit hat with his head down in the hands on his lap. There is a baby swaddled and wrapped face-wise in a pink scarf. There is a stroller beneath the baby and a man with a hand on the stroller and the other holding open a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie which obscures his face. There is a young girl pressing her face into her mother’s armpit and crying and this is a moment in your life.


This is a moment in your life where a tall man is asleep across three subway seats. There is a jacket shrouding his torso and a fur-rimmed hood consuming his face. There is another man walking into the car as the doors open at a stop. There is jogging attire all over his body. There is a watch worn inward on his wrist. There is Under Armour on his chest and his heavy breath and this is a moment in your life. There are four people scattered about the car. There is the jogger kicking the sleeper’s foot and the sleeper stirring awake. There is “Wake up this is America.” There is “What the fuck?” There is “Wake Up!” There is “Are you–” There is “Wake up in America.” There is a moment of silence and this is a moment in your life but then there is a fully awake man standing and raising a backwards turned fist to the jogger’s face. There is “You playing the knuckle game man?” There is “You looking to start round one of the knuckle game homie?” There is sun coming through the window in flashing darts and there are four people watching an argument escalate. There is America. Wake up. There is a new war and this is it and this is a moment in your life.


Tyler Barton lives in Lancaster, PA. He’s the co-founder & co-editor of The Triangle (thetrianglepa.com). Follow him @goftyler.

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