Excerpt from ‘Record’ by Danniel Schoonebeek

Illustration using reconfigured samples of 16 bit pixel art by Max Allison

from Record

And what is the voice, the voice asked him.

Zero cops 

dicking off

near the metro-

card kiosks

see him 


the smudgy

grey turnstile

& rain in his 

rat hair

7:35 am to catch his Manhattan-bound L train to work. 

We name the voice the jeremiad, he said. 

11 strides

from the rear

& the MTA conductor

warning a girl

maybe 12 years of age

pink backpack

& pigtails

never to hold the doors for

oncoming passengers?

She lets them go.

“The jeremiad, then,” said the voice.


But in New York when it rains the subway 

is like a ward.

Hard, said the jeremiad

not to smell the flanks

steaming, non?

And harder yet not to smell the sores?

107 standing

& 39 seated he counted them

& the passengers cheered that morning

when a young man

a woman’s black pea coat trailing behind him

beat the doors closing

& stood there panting before them & steaming.  

Ask them, the jeremiad said.

And one by one in May of that year

every straphanger 

who rode the L train to work in the morning

answered yes

when he asked the following question:

have you ever wondered

on your way to Manhattan

while the train is pitching below the East River

if the water broke through

what would happen.


By May of that year

319 times

L train to Union Square

6 train to 33rd St

40 minutes roughly

& twice daily

for $27,000 annually

his commute. 

Outside the station that morning 

in the shadow of the MetLife Building 

(which he once wrote in a letter to Josie

birth name Johanna

looks like a wildebeest

lowering its head to drink from a river)

dogwood trees earning the season’s

first blossoms

thousands of which pink and dead in the gutter

& everywhere wafts of cum.  

A war vet handing out leaflets & shouting 

“free Johannesburg” 

& how often in this town

the jeremiad said

one hears men & women shouting

free trial

free membership

buy one

get one free

no money down

zero interest


But here was a man 

shouting free Johannesburg 

like he couldn’t give one away.


Danniel Schoonebeek is the author of American Barricade (YesYes Books, 2014) and Trébuchet, a 2015 National Poetry Series selection (University of Georgia Press, 2016). A recipient of a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from Poetry Foundation, recent work appears in Poetry, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

Max Allison co-founded the label Hausu Mountain with Doug Kaplan in 2012, and his visual art appears on the label’s album covers and packaging. His designs reconfigure small samples of pixel art from 16-bit video games made for the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis into dense collages that stretch into spreads of isometric 3D space. He records music solo under the name Mukqs and plays in the projects Good Willsmith, BBsitters Club, Pepper Mill Rondo, Lord Mute, and Crazy Bread. Max lives in Chicago; you can find him on Twitter at @Goodwillsmith.