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.