Train Song

The rattle of the tracks shakes something loose in my brain, 

and it falls to the vinyl seat and slides to the vibrating floor of the car like a ticket stub, 

punched clean through. 


My breath catches in my chest 

as the crimson autumn trees whip by the window, 

and another thought shakes loose, 

falling like a leaf to the forest floor. 


It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, 

and this coast always shakes things loose in me. 


The engine whips over another bridge, past another bay, 

my heart longs for a building with a roof that’s 100 years old. 

I want to be surrounded by falling rafters, floating dust, 

dry-rotted timber held together by spiderwebs. 


The last time I was on this train 

you were with me, and you were sick, 

and we were hauling ass across state lines 

to get to a future which never quite arrived.


The voice of the conductor calls out names of towns I haven’t heard in years 

(Metro Park, Metuchen, Edison), 

bells ring in my brain 

like someone is calling out the names of friends 

I used to smoke weed with in high school. 

Even when I knew them, 

they weren’t their own places, 

so much as milestones on the way to another place.


If I could tell you anything right now, I’d tell you I miss the aquarium in the apartment we used to share. 


I’d tell you about the leaves changing colors, and how the leaves hitting the ground ask if you’re OK.