Astor Place Station by Ron Kolm

Astor Place Station


by Ron Kolm


"Astor Station, NYC", Copyright © 2014 Arthur Kaye

‘End of the Line’, Copyright © 2014 Arthur Kaye

Astor Place Station


I’d just dropped off

Some consignment stuff

At St. Mark’s Bookshop

And had fifteen minutes to make it

To Grand Central Terminal

Or I’d be late for work.


I got to the ornate

Astor Place entrance

To the uptown local and froze—

A sea of commuters

Poured up the steps

And broke around me

Like a wave on the beach.

I’d just missed a train.


I paid my fare and walked

Up the empty platform.

As I approached the garbage bins

At the north end of the station

I passed a column and came face

To face with a dude

Who was breathing heavily

His back to the tracks.

I realized what was up right away

And, idiot that I am, pointed it out to him.

“Hey, you just jumped the rails

And crossed the tracks.

What’s up with that?” I said,

Smiling to show I was hip.


“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said,

Staring right through me.

“Whoa, no problem!” I said

Nervously, “I’m cool!”

“I’m not going back to prison,”

He continued, unblinking.

“I’m down with that,” I said,

My mind racing like a cockroach

When you turn on the lights.

“Do you like the Yankees?”

He asked, stunning me.

“Well, no, but I do like the Mets a bit,”

I answered stupidly, given the situation.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said again,

Squaring his shoulders and striding off

Towards the distant exit.


I looked down the platform

And saw figures with flashlights

Searching the tracks.

I was getting later

And later for work, but

I didn’t know what to do:

I’d made it through the Sixties

And I didn’t want to betray

A brother to the man,

So I just stood there.


A number 6 train,

Moving very slowly

Finally pulled into the station

And I got on and sat down

Shaking a little.


Across from me

Leaning against a door

Was the biggest transit cop

I’d ever seen, with a tiny

Full-moon of a face,

All out of proportion.

I wanted to ask him

What had happened at the station

We were leaving behind

But I figured if it had been

Something really bad

I’d be a material witness

So I kept my mouth shut

And went to work.


~ Ron Kolm


Copyright 2012 Arthur Kaye ©

Copyright © 2012 Arthur Kaye

Ron Kolm is a member of the Unbearables, and an editor of several of their anthologies; most recently The Unbearables big Book of Sex! Ron is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine, and the editor of the Evergreen Review. He is the author of The Plastic Factory and, with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. A collection of his poems, Divine Comedy, has been published by Fly By Night Press. His most recent collection of poems, Suburban Ambush, was published in 2014 by Autonomedia. Kolm’s papers were purchased by the New York University library, where they’ve been catalogued in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Daily, Poetry, Ron Kolm, Writing

6 Responses to Astor Place Station by Ron Kolm

  1. Lynn

    Love, love love that piece!

  2. kathryn adisman "K"

    I like this poem, Ron. Actually it’s a story that reminds me of a story you told me as the curtain was closing on the original Coliseum Books and I was hanging out interviewing staff and customers in January ’02. I still have those audiotapes, but this might be one stored in my memory about a guy with a knife you went after. That night manager experience probably stood you in good stead here. What happened to George after the Bryant Park location closed?


  3. Amy Barone

    Gripping poem, Ron. Enjoy hearing you read it too.

  4. Mike Lindgren

    Ooh, that’s a good one! More tales of urban adventuring in the moonscape of the NYC margins once again… gritty and moving. Well done Mr “Rank Cologne”!

  5. Jeff Wright

    Keeping your mouth shut is a virtue sometimes. Lovely piece de realite.

  6. george spencer

    runyon, dostoevski bukowski
    all liked your piece. so did i.