404: On the D Train

404: On the D Train

404: On the D Train

This week, we’ve chosen to highlight episodes that take up questions of social justice. The outrage and heartbreak brought on by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black citizens remind us that courageous dialogue about racial prejudice is critical to the survival of our culture. And we believe that poetry is a perfect vehicle for just such dialogue.


On the D Train
by Jacqueline Johnson

(for Rich Bartee)

Saw Shango on the D train
with his big bag of tricks and familiar song
cutting jokes and truth in the same breath.

Saw Shango humble in blue collar shoes,
shape shifting,
turning words into stars.

Saw Shango on the D train
wearing an applejack rhapsodizing,
hollerin’ and singin’ Blues.

Saw Shango collecting converts and
heads for his poet-tential
limitless drum beat, beating.

Saw Shango on the D train
doing a peace dance, talking smooth about love,
about us, loving us for a change.

"On the D Train" by Jacqueline Johnson, from A WOMAN'S SEASON by Jacqueline Johnson, copyright © 2015 Main Street Rag Publishing Company. Used by permission of the poet.