Proclaims the man in mud-flecked jeans and a sweatshirt
at least one size too small as he steps round a sign
that reads ‘Do Not Enter’ towards those of us waiting,
beneath Times Square, for an N or R to Queens in the small hours.
Latin busboys, their work shirts transparent with sweat,
linemen in hardhats and steel-toed boots, and a girl
in a pink dress, lipstick askew, all do their best to ignore him
as he repeats, repeats again those same six words,
his voice drowned briefly by a downtown train,
then coming through once more, louder, clearer: ‘The Creature
from the Black Lagoon.’ And still I’ve no idea if he means us,
himself, something he’s seen down in that dark
beyond the tunnel’s mouth—a track rabbit
or party-masked raccoon that sparked him to recall
that half-man, half-fish with a frog’s jowl,
a crab’s gnarled claw, who, in the only scene of the film
that’s memorable, reaches one scaled arm out
to almost touch the thigh of the lithe, female creature
who turns above him in a pool of light, the close up
of his face as she passes suggesting more than lust, deep loneliness.
‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ he screams again.
And of course, it could be nothing, neither a prophesy
nor an accusation, not a statement of who or where we are,
of what lurks hidden in the past or the future. Instead,
perhaps it’s just his song, the melody that weights his tongue,
a kitsch catchphrase he feels compelled to shout out in this crypt,
where no sudden crackle in the line or beam of light
washing the tiles announces that our train will soon arrive.