Austin Alexis

My poem, “Frankfurt Underground” was written in response to my musings about various trips I’d taken in the late 1990s. I’d written very little about them and felt the need to explore my Germany trip, not in a touristic way but in a way unique to my particular experience. That impulse somehow merged with my interest in police-community relations, a topic very much in the news about three years ago, when I wrote the poem. The poem quite faithfully records an experience I endured in Germany when, early one evening, I witnessed a police woman with a dog at her side, enter a Frankfurt subway car and, in an impersonal, unfriendly manner, proceed to check subway pay receipts. Her job was to make sure no one had neglected to pay the subway fare. The dog and the police officer were very intimidating–especially given Germany’s history of abusive use of official power. Panting and watchful, the dog appeared ready for action. Before and after this poem, I’ve explored the topic of policing, but this poem is different from most of my work since it’s set in a foreign country. The poem is similar to much of my work because the inspiration is not a single impulse but an amalgam of several seeds: a conscious desire to write about a particular subject (travel), a preoccupation with an aspect of current events (law enforcement intimidation), and the natural impulse to investigate personal experience.