During the SEPTA Strike
by Sarajane Sein
The sun has barely risen in the sky,
as the crowd descends as one upon the trains,
the words "strike" echoing in every head,
transcending the outside differences,
the same way those Phillies shirts did not so long ago.
But the Phillies have lost, and the strike has begun,
leaving worries rattling in every brain,
wondering when Willie Brown and the TW 234 will be
satisfied at last, if ever.
Or when the governor will give in,
make that clockwork mechanism of the buses
and the el and the subway
run again, starting and stopping at times tabulated
on those folded paper bibles Philadelphians
pluck from station racks.
As the train pulls off - that only mode of
transportation left, the lonely Regional Rails -
the passengers wonder, "How long?
How long this time?"
Memories of previous strikes flooding their
thoughts like Polaroid pictures strewn
on the empty sidewalks of Center City.
Those who have been downtown have seen
the deserted Gallery, the underground mall
once filled with teenagers skipping school,
hanging outside in groups.
Now vacant except for a few stragglers,
Regional Rail riders waiting for their signs
to flash "on time" for the route they must ride.
The train pulls past University City,
gleaming with the first lights of businesses
and office buildings, shimmering against
The conductor turns to the passengers
in the car which he stalks, hole-puncher
in hand, like an appointed prison guard
who must make sure that despite the strike
every - card - gets - punched.
"This is the last stop.
The strike issue has been settled."
Philadelphia moves off the train,
flooding into 15th Street Station
at once, as the clock resets.