Train Travel

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It’s nice to travel on a train.
It helps to see the breadth of the land,
Witness the gradual shifts from slum cities
To barren fields just sparking with new green,
From flat expanses that let you see the whole horizon
To mountains that barely let you see around the bend
And only offer the sky as an outlet.
A train allows you to unfold the earth in front of you.
Planes give you the glorious earthly perspective,
But a train stretches you from sea to shining sea
That you might see all the hamlets and cow towns
The forgotten mines, the many VFW buildings,
And mix husks of cars, graffiti, and playgrounds
With hawks, antelopes, and thunderstorms.
A train gently rattles you through invisible prejudices,
Makes plain that there is no such thing as red or blue
When the fields roll on to the bright and crashing ocean.
It’s nice to travel on a train.

The Morning Glory

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The Morning Glory

Not folded, but bundled like laundry,
In arms tired and already burned by grease
And other people’s hash browns.
There is no time for ceremony.
There is, however, time for a quick cape.
A small thick cloud surrounds nylon glory
As a compatriot fumbles with clips and cord,
Unsure of which clip goes where.
The morning sun crests the overpass.
A coffee-deprived car runs up on the lane divider,
The audible thunk distracting from the duty
Of raising the symbol of freedom
Over the symbol of sausage, egg, cheese, and
The impossible bounty of a dollar menu.
Coffee in hand, I pause a moment.
I cannot help but slow my commute
Just a breath, a requisite pause before the rush,
Out of an old respect born of performing
The same small ceremony as a child at school.
And while we unfolded our flag with tiny, reverent hands,
And while we did not smoke mid-ceremony,
We all of us fumbled with the clips.
I don’t have to look back in my mirror
To know they’ll get it right.
That Old Glory will eventually grace the commuter’s dawn
And the black shirts will return to assisting the dreams of others,
Through prompt delivery of caffeine and glorious, factory-pressed biscuits.

A Beautiful Limit

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A Beautiful Limit

We built a remarkable dam.

We built a great canal.

We built thousands of miles of rail

And tens of thousands of miles of road.

So building a wall should be easy.

Now, the dam we built is great

At providing energy to anyone.

The dam we built harnessed nature,

Giving light without judgment.

And the canal opened the oceans

To whatever ship could navigate

The giant locks we died building

Giving everyone access to trade.

These rails and roads

Connect everyone to everyone else.

We wanted to be able to visit,

To move away, to reunite,

To go from coast to coast.

Through mountains, over rivers, around bends

So we could reach each other.

We yearn to explore, see, reach, and find.

In our new land, which we reached

From other lands replete with their own walls

Perhaps we cannot build a wall

To keep people out

Because in our bones we know

We ran from walls

So we could be let in.