Three Poems

Ana’s Pick
Brittany Ober

Dreams Below the Bowery

He licks the sweat right off my neck and bites
my ear on the dance floor. Nicholas shouts
over “Music is My Hot Hot Sex”
that he’s actually a song writer; his student gig
at NYU is for his parents’ kicks. He drags me
into the coat check and we hide
behind a pink trench and faux leopard
bomber. My tongue traces the letters
of his name on his stomach, and he pulls
a red corduroy coat off its hanger. Some bitch
with pink lipstick slurs high-pitched and wasted
into her phone and gives us a dirty glare,
so I grab Nick’s Razr out of his back pocket,
punch in my number and leave. He follows
me past the bouncers at the door
all the way back to my brownstone.
We pull each other up the three flights
and I fumble with the locks, only to crash
to the hardwood floor. His vodka breath
sloshes all over my lips, shoulders,
elbows. He mumbles he’ll write a song
about this tomorrow because ink pours straight
out of his pen when he’s hung over,
and for a minute I believe him.



I hear that people drive on the shoulders
in Boston during rush hour. No wonder
the cars get tired. How lucky they are
that they can slide between two straight lines
or six inches beside a curb and not be bothered
until the next ride. How sweet to glide
over bridges whirring to the sound
of your own engine, to count the miles
without bias, to be so quietly intimate
with a particular city, and to rest on streets
that never ask your name.


My Lover, the Subway

I got on the 7 train, but it stopped
in between Queens and Manhattan.
For years I sat on the orange-and-yellow plastic seats,
next to aging blue-collar immigrants, children stuck
on the way to school, and rich businessmen in slick suits.
We did not eat, our iPods died in three days,
and we did not sing. The underground put us to sleep
like euthanasia-ed patients.

Only I woke up years later
to find the train littered
with my lover’s needles. The 40-ton car,
now emaciated, stood bare steel bones and ash.
Frayed subway maps hinted
at a multi-colored schedule:
the 1-2-3 red, the 4-5-6 green,
and the A-C-E blue. The metro
coughed black-and-white smoke
and made way only for tangible remnants: overexposed
photographs, pencil scrawled
on lined notebook paper, spare change,
and dead watch batteries.

If a flood took over the underground
and water ran through the tunnels
for a hundred years in a row,
the soaked garbage would remain.
My lover will never get clean.
Banana peels, metro cards, used condoms,
and strands of human hair—these are the residents
of darkness that will not go away,
no matter if they rebuild the mosaic-ed halls
and vestibules, no matter how many people
go thru the turnstiles, or how many platforms
are swept by orange-vested workers of the MTA.

Brittany Ober was born in Lititz, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. from Muhlenberg College in English and Art History. Her work has been published in Canteen. Brittany currently lives in New York and works in an art gallery in Chelsea. E-mail: brittanyober[at]

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