Smooth Operators

Smooth Operators

On the subject of locomotives,

we agree that spending millions

on a new one would be foolish

when we can find a rusty Alco

still chuffing from the Forties.

Our short line is short enough.

The single track runs from

your head through the darkest

tunnel straight into mine.

At the memorial reading

in honor of our deepest friend

I thought a heavy freight of thoughts

I had to haul by willpower through

that tunnel. It nearly killed me.

No one else noticed my strain.

They were busy with their egos,

herding them into a little pen

where they could feed and water them.

You think I’m crude to foster

such naked little metaphors

and would prefer I spend more time

maintaining our short line—

replacing spikes and rotted ties,

spraying weed killer along

the entire right-of way,

dumping ballast in washouts.

But until we purchase a diesel,

a good old smoke-choking monster

with a cyclopean headlight

to challenge that gloomy tunnel,

I won’t waste time on a railroad

running from nowhere to nowhere

with its nervous rails tingling.

William Doreski

My work has appeared in various e and print journals,including, most recently, Plato's Caves, Isacoustic, Setu, Valley Voices, and Home Planet News,  and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall.

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