I barely got aboard
when the wheels began to roll
and we raced along rattling tracks
that pierced the bowels of the city.
I lurched from car to car
in search of an empty seat,
my choice a car of squalling brats,
or toxic clouds of the smoking car.
Breathing's more important than deafness,
so I picked the chamber of shrieks
and concealed myself in a book,
while thinking of the bullet train.
We were still in the tunnel
and dim lights revealed toiling serfs
of the city's underground search crews,
seeking the subterranean homeless.
Then we burst into the light, the light
and the babies yowled, the moms howled.
In the confines of the Pullman car
infant arias were corrosive.
A few minutes passed in the long trip
and the train rolled south on a viewless route
of blank walls and patchy shrubbery,
more bearable than travelers' faces.
The hours crept by on resentful toes
that thwarted my efforts for tolerance.
The volume level of the cows and calves
clarified why bulls were solitary.
Darkness fell. The illusion of the window
faded and my own stressed face looked back at me.
I cannot focus on my book,
held hostage by overwhelmed senses.
I close my eyes but can't obliterate
the snorts and rumbles of the grazing herd
and I yearn for the ability
to pass the time in meditation.
Crotchety time hates to pass,
as I ride this train of doom
much longer than intended,
trapped in a lethal container.
I rise, but am quickly skewered
by inquisitor's eyes, stabbing suspicions.
They know I'm a poet! Can I deny it?
Does it matter? Should I fear punishment?
I carefully traverse the sprawl of legs,
luggage, coats, baby food, rattles, debris
of tribal movement of the Hussites,
or another alien medieval horde.
Their wary glances follow me.
I can't go far, or they'll open my suitcase
and find incendiary poems….
Ah. That's nonsense. They wouldn't care about poems.
I took a deep breath for reassurance,
then with spring in my step, a friendly smile,
I showed the eternal conductor
my ticket of continuation.
The rest of the trip passed quietly.
I forgot my apprehensions
and took my place in the migration
and I arrived at my destination.
Proximity had bred familiarity
and my fellow voyagers waved farewell
as I detrained at a rural station,
leaving my good will, and taking theirs.