“Terminal” – Poetry by Ron Kolm

Grand Central Terminal - Max Weber, 1915
Grand Central Terminal – Max Weber, 1915

There’s a good old-fashioned New York City panic goin’ on in “Terminal,” Ron Kolm‘s riveting poem from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

IT’S A QUIET DAY
In Grand Central Station
And I’m killing time
At the information counter
Looking stuff up
On the bookstore’s computer.
There’s a sudden commotion
Outside the front window
As a crowd of people
Runs up the ramp
Towards 42nd Street
Yelling and waving their arms.

Something must have gone
Horribly wrong
In the terminal—
Maybe someone has a gun
Or a bomb.
Perhaps it’s the terrorist attack
We’ve been anticipating
For so long.

And just like that
They all come running
Back down, still shouting,
Just like in a Marx Brothers
Movie, and this finally gets
The manager’s attention.
Now even he knows
That something bad
Has occurred

As panic sets in
He gives the order
To evacuate the store–
We ask the customers
To please leave quickly.
A guy I work with
Pulls me aside and says
He’s going to slip out
The rear entrance
Fuck everyone else!
I follow him
Through the tunnels
Over to the shuttle
Where we exit the station.

When we reach street level
I see a horrendous sight:
The sky is blood red
And though it’s summer
Snowflakes are falling
And coating everything.
I figure that a plane
Must have crashed
Into a nearby building.

All I want to do
Is flee this nightmare–
But we’ve been told
That if disaster strikes
We’re supposed to assemble
On the corner of 43rd
And Madison where
A roll call will be taken
To make sure
Everyone got out ok.

On my way there
I stop in a bar
To watch the news on TV
And finally find out
What really happened–
A Con Ed steam pipe exploded
Just a couple of blocks away
And shot debris high
Into the surrounding sky.
I toss back a few
Glued to the screen
And forget all about
The bookstore.

Days later
Con Edison announces
That the snow is asbestos,
And sets up a collection point
Where contaminated clothes
Can be dropped off
And put in garbage bags
To be buried somewhere–
But I can’t afford
To trash mine
So I simply wash them
And hope for the best.

{ X }

Ron Kolm Photo by Arthur KayeRON KOLM is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine. He’s the author of The Plastic Factory, Divine ComedySuburban Ambush, Duke & Jill, and Night Shift. He’s had work in Have A NYC 3, Live Mag! and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron’s papers were purchased by the NYU library, where they’ve been cataloged in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.

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