by David Orr

Not that anyone will care,
But as I was sitting there

On the 8:07
To New Haven,

I was struck by lightning.
The strangest thing

Wasn’t the flash of my hair
Catching on fire,

But the way people pretended
Nothing had happened.

For me, it was real enough.
But it seemed as if

The others saw this as nothing
But a way of happening,

A way to get from one place
To another place,

But not a place itself.
So, ignored, I burned to death.

Later, someone sat in my seat
And my ashes ruined his suit.

PAINTING: “Chair Car,” oil on canvas by Edward Hopper (1965).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Orr is the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review. Winner of the Nona Balakian Prize from the National Book Critics Circle and the Editor’s Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine, his writing has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Believer, and Pleiades magazine. Orr holds a B.A. from Princeton and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He is the author of Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry (HarperCollins, 2011), available at Visit him at