zach 6d
The brace is set
My palsied legs
Jerked out to rise as sycamores.

Drenched in the root
My being here
Is baseless, I remain.

Tough habits rule
Lush temptresses
Bare & bright diversions.

Palsied feet
Six thousand rungs
In spasm, rings I climb.

The senses seethed
My palsied legs
Awash, maudlin, begrudging.

Drawn in a twitch
My will & worth
Lash dauntless in the fray.

What fantasies
Such temptresses!
Barren, empty spirits.

Packed with weight
Six thousand rungs
In spasm, rings I climb.
my life with cerebral palsy eighteen years in.
Nat Lipstadt May 2013
For Al, who left us, Nov. 22, 2014

With each passing poem,
The degree of difficulty of diving ever higher,
Bar incrementally niched, inched, raised,
Domain, the association of words, ever lesser,
Repetition verboten, crime against pride.

Al,
You ask me when the words come:

With each passing year,
In the wee hours of
Ever diminishing time snatches,
The hours between midnight and rising,

Shrinkage, once six, now four hours,
Meant for for restoration,
Transpositional for creation,
Only one body notes the new mark,
The digital, numerical clock of
Trillion hour sleep deficit, most taxing.

Al, you ask me from where do the words come:

Each of the five senses compete,
Pick me, Pick me, they shout,

The eyes see the tall grasses
Framing the ferry's to and fro life.
Waving bye bye to the
End of day harbor activities,
Putting your babies to sleep.

The ears hear the boat horns
Deep voiced, demanding pay attention,
I am now docking, I am important,
The sound lingers, long after
They are no longer important.

The tongue tastes the cooling
Italian prosecco merging victoriously
With its ally, the modestly warming rays
Of a September setting sun,
finally declaring, without stuttering,
Peace on Earth.

The odoriferous bay breezes,
A new for that second only smell,
But yet, very old bartender's recipe,
Salt, cooking oil, barbecue sauce, gasoline
And the winning new ingredient, freshly minted,
Stacked in ascending circumference order, onion rings.

These four senses all recombinant,
On the cheek, on the tongue,
Wafting, tickling, blasting, visioning
Merging into a single touch
That my pointer finger, by force majeure,
Declares, here,  poem aborning,
Contract with this moment, now satisfied.

Al,  what you did not ask was this:
With each passing poem,
I am lessened within, expurgated,
In a sense part of me, expunged,
Part of me, passing too,
Every poems birth diminishes me.
___________

4:38 AM
September 8th, 2012

Greenport Harbor, N.Y.
Rings of sleep met my hands, and promised
to wed my lashes, to close. The moon's pupils
acclimated to dusk's orbit, poisonous cycles with
durable antidotes. Starlight circulates death herself,
inaudible, a sobering shadow.
I've lasted by her words progressing,
as I'm no longer here. I faked debt with
her, to try and feel my 'normal' a belted, altered
maker of happiness. They aspired plastic sapphires,
chipping diamonds and bluebells for graves, they took
a dip at my faltered breath- and wanted more, a suicide
note bolted in as tattoos,

"The poetry is beautiful,"

"But I just haven't died yet,"
Lots of people love my poetry. And tons of people say they want my gift, but, I only have this because of all the bad stuff I've been through. You want something I'd give up in a heartbeat- trust me.
All feedback is welcome
This is it you believe it
Journey was so long and boring
Yes, your face again and again
Emerged in cigarette' smoking rings
You similed, but went lost immediately
I knew what is the existence
Neither you as body nor your love
All this remains alive only in thoughts
Trouble it with,
Thoughts are changed too
Same like pages of my  diary
With faded ink they can not say yet anything
To that I want to listen now.

Tapan Susheel
Being cared for
Here's the  adored door

Inside playing he pours the hearts

So like him the ricochet
Deeply love so cultured
My pearl crochet

Deeply cared about I got you
under my skin
I win your love ticket

The spool of
wool hit the floor
To the extreme
The sensitive mind

  And his feeling like the escapee finding
the higher
religion keeping that in mind
The everlasting  to be cared for or
not to be never lasting like someone
lost its hunger fasting

Waking up deeply recharged or
reproducing to
her neverending fairytale

Much deeper than 69 eye love shades
Deeply cared for beyond his loving
It comes and fades
Like Monopoly  "Godly Sun-Seeker" keeps
passing us
The game of life charades
Like Persian babies their
button nose deeply cared for to cuddle
The warmest meows hug and save

Like flour to sparkle, it deepens
like our mix, a love needs
to be worked on 
 do you really
care to fix?

But sending all the details
the lines soften pale pink rose
I felt your red fire putting
out the coldness fire and ice
To be saved on time
Like the fire chief,  
Acted like a French chef what
a love roue of the hose

Like silk my millennium  milk,
He held my finger but not
to sulk he said buckle up
What firmness and tightness
arm to arm wrestler such
bulk

Never to swear but a little lie 
  Wouldnt hurt my delicate
pinky finger
In her loop with her fur
deeply
Stepped into her mink

He's the frontman
Fresh cut lemon
Yellow sunshine
happy medium

I was wearing my hair middle parted
The picture slide the made man
Tied back my hair was deeply
Smooth talker well conditioned
With what conditions all recollections
But three strikes when you care for
someone you  don't fall out of love

  This world loves to be pampered
Cared about not scouted
All hole marks in the road badly routed
 With tons of work with the question mark?
The sign stayed with her
Deeply care about?

Like a play date let's pretend
You're both a handful
Like beer malt lips
Engraved love in the barrels
To feel deeply loved  he acted
Like the riddler

The beach her eyes were waiting to be reached
Sunset playing the fool marionette overly preached

So I  Bette
Beneath her wings
In the middle of their wed to be isles
The Green Gables emerald rings

Miss spinster-Sara Lee cake
His jeep was all she could take
How it ended up
In Greenwich Village then shipped
To Mystic Seaport Connecticut
The movie cut Cape Cod Massachusetts
The four letters in his pocket
Deeply 1 care 2 about 3 love 4

Needed a jump kickstart
Her breakfast  start of the day
 deeply cared for his way
He stumped over her honey
bunches of oats lips

The website
Go, Daddy acting love silly
The hot fun in the
International city
The UK that's OK
Mr. Bo Jangles spoiled deeply
Sex in the City single
Deeply getting hurt
The Sin City

Did he see her progress
All over Twitter
He was so suited but lost
his tie twinkle tweets
Do I really live my life to dare
or deeply care?
I am bloody British give me
my English breakfast teas
for keeps
The King ain't got that swing
She acts too much like the Queen

The Royalty of love sanity
The heaping fine grain sugar spoon

(Duke of Earl gray) Deeply love Thee
But always came way too soon
She is the domestic cat going frantic

Great discoveries, and that's that
  Internships tug-cash or the hogwash
our colleagues  
The deep end "Crazy Eights
On the tenth physio natural
phenomena convent

All the Kingman no swords holding her
wrench
and knight horses unfortunate events
One day creation camel ride for miles
Reaching higher levels of toxins
and morons
Or teaching MLM  you asked for it
"The millionaire lost minds"

Were human TLC tender loving care
Like some playdough to the rooftop
Of Mentors, did they care
Who we deeply care about family
But more concerned
about the rise of money inventors
Even if life really sucks
Oh! Fiddlesticks

The Moaning of life
Bring the Idiots aboard
The prick of the night

He kinda ducks by the end of
your sex-light
Flex-body deeply cared for
Rumors and all philosophies
The shower like you was slashed
Left you bone dry without the cash
The thrill is gone your lovesick

She-devil  coffin red nails split Twilight zone

  The stars were in your corner
He deeply cared for you he was
your health kit
The Botanical Gardens

Like a figment of your imagination
Se demure you needed a
Florence Nightingale flower cure
To lift your depression to smile
You thought someone cared but all
misinterpretations

All misconceptions and misdemeanors
She takes so long putting on her
French lip glide Chanel liner
What could be ever cared for finer
Deeply digging holes like a miner

The solar rhythmic pointed finger
to the stars

So systematically
making a wish
just like everyone else
To plan your game
the game makes the plan
You deeply cared for delivery
Was I the care package

You weren't someone
just anybody like
A city dump garbage

Deeply wanting and waiting
So merely or rarely was it coming

Deeply seeing the next generation
The spectacular sunrise
White wicker twin set swing
Your heart pulls back but it was
so close to swinging forward
Moving towards your
accomplishments
The mess was all sexy

"You have the exceptional mind like the beautiful mind"

People, you came across friends
Also, contributors  not the enemies
The country and the continents
Deeply cared for landmarks
The monuments how you love
her birthmark taking her hand

The Godly land such will command
moonwalker deeply cared for
All watered deep soul of lovers
The world of hands and
words became
such an impact

You felt like the creature so extinct
Things we deeply care about or no one doesn't understand our feeling we move or fly in all directions just to get the right affection
Leon Zebrick Jul 2015
Hotrod
Verse I

Wrenches clanging, knuckles banging
A drop of blood the young man spilt
A new part here, and old part… there
A hotrod had been built!
A patchwork, mechanical, quilt

Feelings of excitement not unlike those of Christmas mornings long past paid visit to the young man, his head under a raised hood, hands occupied, nearing compleation.  Did building that Lionel train-set so long ago form some type of pattern in his brain, now being so pleasurably served?  The good feelings would dissipate though, as quickly as they came, as he cursed himself for stripping a bolt, or cursed someone else for selling him the wrong part, or the engineer whose design goals obviously did not consider “remove and replace”.  He cursed the “gorilla” that never heard of a torque-wrench, the glowing particle of slag that popped on to the top of his head as he welded, the metal chip he flushed from his eye, and even himself for the burn he received by impatiently touching something too soon after grinding.  He, and his type, cursed a lot, but mostly to their selves as they battled-on with things oily, hot, bolted, welded, and rusty – in cramped spaces. One day it was “choice words” for an “easy out” that broke off next to a broken drill bit that had broken off in a broken bolt that was being drilled for an easy out.    Despite the swearing, the good and special feelings, feelings known only to those with a true capacity for this type of passion, would always return, generally of a magnitude that exceeded the physical pain and mental frustration of the day, most significantly.   Certifiably obsessive, the young man continued to toil dutifully, soulfully, occasionally gleefully, sometimes even expertly, in his most loved and familiar place, his sanctuary, laboratory… the family garage.

And tomorrow would be the day.
Fire extinguisher? “ got it”
Battery? “Charged and connected”
Neutral?  “yes”
Brake?  “Set”
And with hard learned, hard earned expertise and confidence, in this special small place, a supremely happy and excited young man commanded his creation to life.

Threw  a toggle, pressed a switch
Woke up the neighbors with that son of a bitch

The heart of his machine was a stroked Chevy engine that everyone had just grown sick hearing about.  Even the local machine shop to which the boy nervously entrusted his most prized possession had had enough.  “Sir, I don’t want to seem disrespectful, but from what I’ve read in Hot Rod magazine, you might be suggesting a clearance too tight for forged pistons…” then it would be something else the next day.   One must always speak politely to the machinist, and even though he always had, the usual allotment of contradictions and arguments afforded to each customer had long run out – and although the shop owner took a special liking to the boy because, as he liked to say, “he reminds me of me”, well, that man was done too.  But in the end, the mill was dead-on.  Of course from the start, the shop knew it would be; that’s almost always the case; it’s how they stay in business.  Bad shops fall out quickly, but this place had the look of times gone by.  Good times.  Old porcelain signs, here and there were to be found, all original to the shop and revered by the older workers in honored nostalgia, and the younger workers get it too; they can tell from the men they respect and learn from, there is something special about the past.  One sign advertises Carter Carburetors and the artwork depicts “three deuces”, model 97’s, sitting proudly atop a flathead engine, all speeding along in a red, open roadster,  it’s occupants, a blond haired boy with slight freckles (driver), and a brunette girl passenger, white blouse slightly unbuttoned,  both in the wind-blown cool, their excited expressions proclaim… "we areare free!" (and all you need is a Carter).
The seasoned old engine block he turned over to the shop cost him $120-even from the bone yard.  Not a bad deal for a good block that had never had its first 0.030” overbore.  In the shop, it was cleaned, checked for cracks, measured and re-measured, inspected and re-inspected.  It was shaped and cut in a special way that would allow the stroker crankshaft, that was to be part of this build, to have all the clearance it would need.  The engine block was fitted with temporary stress plates that mimic the presence of cylinder heads,  then the cylinders were bored to “first oversize”,  providing fresh metal for new piston rings to work against.  New bearings were installed everywhere bearings are required.  Parts were smoothed here and there.  Some surfaces were roughened just so, to allow new parts to “work-into each other” when things are finally brought together.  All of this was done with a level of precision and attention far, far greater than the old “4- bolt” had ever received at the factory on its way to a life of labor in the ¾ ton work truck from which it came.  They called this painstaking dedication to precision measurement and fit, to hitting all specifications “on the mark”, “blueprinting”, and it would continue throughout the entire build of this engine.  The boy was worried, but the shop had done it a million times.
  After machining, the block was filled with new and strong parts that cost the young man everything he had.   Parts selected with the greatest of effort, decision, and debate.  “ You can compromise on paint”,” live with some rust”, he would say,  “wait for good tires”, “but never scrimp on the engine”.  Right on.  You get one shot at getting that right, and this proclamation demonstrated wisdom but also provided ample excuse for the rough and unfinished look of the rest of his machine.  But it was just a look, his car was, in fact, “right”.   And its power plant?; well the machine shop had talked their customer into letting them do the final engine assembly - even cut their price to do it.  They were looking out for the boy.  The mill in its final form was the proper balance of performance and durability, and with the camshaft so carefully selected, its “personality” was perfectly matched to the work at hand.   It would produce adequate torque in the low RPM range and get whole rig moving quickly, yet deliver enough horsepower at red-line to pile on the MPH, fast.
No longer a polite-natured workhorse, this engine, this engine is impatient now.  High compression, a rapid, choppy idle - it seems to be biting at the bit – to do something - anything.  On command, it gulps its mixture and screams angrily, and often those standing around have a reflexive jump or twitch - the louder, the better - the more angry, the better.  If it hurts your ears, that’s a good feeling.  If its bark startles, that’s a good startle.  A cacophony?  No, the “music” of controlled explosions.  When connected to the rest of the machine, it thrusts everything and everyone attached, forward, impolitely, on its rapid run to “red-line”, and it keeps pulling hard and delivering power while spinning fast because it is breathing right and proper and producing power that thrills, and the only reason to shift gears is to preserve connecting rods, eager as the engine may be to rev further!  This is the addictive sound and feel that has appealed to certain types of people since engines replaced horses, and why?  A surrogate voice for those who are otherwise quiet?  A visceral celebration of accomplishment?    Who cares?  Shift once, then again - speed quickly makes its appearance.  It appears as a loud, rushing wind and a visually striking, unnatural rate of movement between the occupants and the surrounding scenery.  At some point, in the sane, it triggers a natural response - better slow things down.    


He uncorked the headers, bought gasoline, dropped her in gear, tore off to the scene
Camaros and Mustangs, an old ‘55
Obediently lined-up, to get skinned alive!


Verse II (1st person)

I drove past the banner that said “Welcome race fans” took a new route, behind the grandstands
And through my chipped window, I thought I could see
Some of the racers were laughing at me

I guess rust and primer are not to their taste
But I put my bucks mister in the right place

I chugged and popped past cars dealers had sold
Swung into a spot, next to something old

Emerging with interest from under his hood
My neighbor said two words, he said, “sounds good”

The ’55 I parked next to was “classic rodding” in its outward appearance.  The much overused “primer paint job” harkening back to “Two Lane Blacktop”.  The hood and front fenders a fiberglass clamshell, pinned affair.  Dice hanging from the mirror paid homage to days its driver never knew, but wished he had.  He removed them before he drove, always.
If you know how to peel the onion, secrets are revealed.  Wilwood brake calipers can be a dead giveaway – someone needs stopping power, maybe.  Generally, owners who have sprung the bucks for this type gear let the calipers show off in bright red, to make a statement, and sometimes, these days, it’s just a fashion statement.   There is an old saying “if you have the go, you need the whoa”.  Great brakes generally meant a fast car, but that’s no longer true.  Now, expensive calipers, as eye candy, are all the rage.  What is true, however, is very few guys spend big money on brakes only to render them inglorious and seemingly common with a shot of gray paint from a rattle can, and the owner of this ’55 had done just that.  Two things seem to be at play here.  One, he needs those heavy brakes because he’s fast, and two, hiding them fits his style.   Really, the message to be found in the gray paint, so cleverly applied to make your eyes simply slide across them on their way to more interesting things, was “sleeper”.   And sleeper really means, he’s one of those drivers with a score to settle - with everyone perhaps.   The list of “real parts” grew, if you knew where to look.  Something I held defacto permission to do since my rod was undergoing a similar scrutiny.  
“Stroked?”, I asked.  That’s something you can’t see from the outside. “ No”, the racer replied.  
“Hundred shot?”  (If engines have their language, so do the people who love them).   Despite the owner’s great efforts to conceal braided fuel and nitrous lines, electrical solenoids and switches, I spied his system.  The chunks of aluminum posing as ordinary spacers under his two carburetors were anything but.   “No”, was his one-word reply to my 100- shot question.  I tried again; “Your nitrous system, how much are you spraying?  ”  “Two hundred fifty”, he said.  That’s more like it, I thought, and I then figured, he too had budgeted well for the machine shop – if not, he was gambling in a game that if lost, would fly parts in all directions.   Based on the overall vibe of the scene, I believed his build was up to the punishment he planned; his rig was use to the beatings, I thought.   I knew exactly what this tight-lipped guy was about, seeing someone very familiar in him as it were, and that made the “sounds good” complement I received upon my arrival all the more valuable.

The voice on the loudspeaker tells us we’re up.

Pre-staged, staged, then given the green
The line becomes blurred between man and machine

Bones become linkage
Muscle, spring
Fear, excitement

Time distorts ….
Color disappears …
Vision narrows…
Noise ---  becomes music
Speed, satisfaction

End
phone rings; I say I'm listening
to the radio:  she starts  talking
Dawn breaks slowly, the evening stillness gives way to the jubilant  chatter of birds as sun rises.

A church bell rings in the distance, its chimes blending with the lively babble of a nearby brook, alive with darting rainbows as the light reflects shimmering scales.

There is peace to be found here, a deep inner calm takes hold as I watch the bluebells lift their heads once more as Bumble Bees make breakfast of clover.

All of nature beckons, her green majesty awaits my adoration, her song, ancient and knowing, leads the dance to where I find my heaven.
I'm on a train.

One of those red ones with black trimmed windows you can imagine rolling through the suburbs on the way to NYC. Not a subway car but a classier vintage with proper rows of cushioned seats and a lever to pull if there is an emergency. There is sparse shrubberies on one side of the tracks and the ocean on the other as young trees and bushes stroll by.  A little wind is pushing off the ocean. Massaging the car ever so gently back and forth as we move along with a gentle click-clack on the tips of our ears.

We got on together. We hadn't known each other for very long but the connection was stronger than anything I had ever felt or have since. You practically sat on top of me for the first few miles. Couldn't keep your hands off me,  staring in my eyes like you were searching for something you lost but couldn't remember what. You interlaced my fingers with yours and held on like you would be ripped away if your grip loosened for even a second. Your slender fingers holding mine so tightly that they were becoming red.

You were excited to to be riding with me, about where we were going and all the things we would do when we got there. You would look at me out of the corner of your eye, then lean over to brush your soft cheek against my budding stubble. Kissing my lips insatiably, the suns rays coming in at an angle and lighting up your perfect smile and dimple. I had to remind you we were in public. I was lost in your blonde curls and the smell of your neck. I had fallen incredibly hard and so fast that my face hurt from smiling and my heart beat with vibrations I had never known. Not even a whiff of anxiety or neurosis. Some of the best memories of my life as fleeting as they turned out to be.

I yawned and you put your finger in my mouth. I bent over to tie my shoes and you would poke my butt and laugh with your own reflection in the window like this was the first and best joke of all time. Maybe it was and maybe it is.

The waiter came and informed us that a thing called "the bar car" existed. We both jumped at the idea. We didn't exactly notice at the time during our excitement, but that's when the train started going faster and everything out the windows began to blur.

The bar car was a wild ride and we took advantage of our situation. All kinds of fine wine, liquors and illicit substances were available. We tried them all. You were beautiful, your laugh infecting everyone around you, I was charming and held a captive audience.  It was a dark, loud and glorious blur, we were the life of the party and it chugged on till dawn.

We woke up in our seats, disheveled and discombobulated. It was dark out already. The train was slowing down, maybe approaching a station. The party was amazing but we were certainly paying the price for the black out. You moved over to the seat across from me to have some more space and lay down. I saw myself in the reflection. My hat, my charm and smile from the night before had vanished. I must have left them in the bar car the night before.
      You had changed, beauty uninterrupted but different somehow, I couldn't put my finger on it. Irritated maybe? I invited you to cuddle and battle the hangover together but you ignored me. Like you couldn't hear me or didn't want to. I decided to let you be.

I got up to use the bathroom and thought I would go look for my scattered belongings and maybe a scrap of leftover dignity while you rested. I inquired to the conductor who directed me to the bartender in the bar car. He hadn't changed a bit, somehow untouched and unaffected by last nights shenanigans.  Same black suspenders and white pressed shirt with impeccably slicked hair. I asked him what happened and if I had an open tab. While slowly polishing a rocks glass he looked up and made eye contact for a split second before looking away and said:    "Oh the bar car takes its toll. In the end we all end up paying one way or another". I still don't know what he meant by that or if he knew what was about to unfold.
      I asked him if he found my hat and he said he would check the camera. We walked in to a small back room, while he was reviewing the tape, over his shoulder I noticed a tragedy.

We were drunk. I was going on to a group of new friends on one side of the bar, they were hanging on my words and I was eagerly explaining whatever nonsense they were drooling over. You were in the corner wearing that red dress I love with your hair up in a tight bun. A few curls had escaped and brushed your high cheekbones, a thin line of pearls dancing delicately across your perfectly symmetrical collar. You were stunning and inebriated, swaying with each bump and motion of the train. A man wearing my hat put his hand on your side to keep you from swaying over and then he left it there. I took a sharp breath. It looked like you put your hand on his hand to move it but then it stayed and you both swayed together. As the air left my lungs and the blood drained out of my face I watched your lips touch the strangers and a small piece of my soul slipped away forever. I couldn't watch any further, when I asked the bartender how long it went on he fidgeted for a moment and uncomfortably told me "quite some time". I never found my hat or the other part of me that left that day.  

The train slowed and then stopped. I walked to the back of the train in disbelief. How could you I thought to myself?? I cried quietly to alone for a moment and fell in to a random seat in utter disbelief. There were a few passengers back there so I had to pull together relatively quickly. After gaining some composure I knew it was time to get off. I knew we could never get back to yesterday morning though I would have said or done anything to do so.

The train had stopped. I went back to my seat and you were sleeping. I took my coat and gathered my things. The conductor looked at me confused as to why I would leave something so magnificent there sleeping, I assume he had no idea what had transpired.   
I walked to the rear of the car and slid the door open slower than required. I stepped to the stairs and put one foot down on the step and the other on the ground and stopped, frozen with my hand on the railing. I knew that it was time to get off, I knew this was the sensible thing to do, that I couldn't get past this offense regardless of how I had felt earlier the day before. The whistle screamed from the locomotive. The conductor looked at me and shook his head, I'm not sure if he was trying to tell me to stay or go but the decision had to be made.

The train lurched forward and I watched as the station slip away slowly. I sat in between the cars for a while and watched the ocean and birds. With a heavy heart and rocks in my shoes I walked back to my seat. You were waiting. Crying. You knew, the bartender had told you. You didn't mean do do it, didn't realize what you were doing and thought it was me. He was wearing my hat and the whole world was blurry and dark.

I believed you. Self anguish mixed with alcohol was dripping from your pores. I knew you didn't mean it and were drunk but could I ever forgive you or trust you again? I loved you still. When I caught a glimpse of my reflection a weaker version of myself looked back. An invisible chip in my teeth and my shoulders had lowered visibly, the charming, confident man from the bar car the day before had been replaced. There was something off but not enough for anyone else to say there is actually something wrong, just enough for them to know a change has taken place. The train started to pick up speed again as we distanced ourselves from the station.  I second guessed my decision to stay but I didn't look back.

I found the man with my hat and punished him with a few blows in the dark. He knew he fucked up, apologized and took the beating like a man. I never got the hat back.

The engineer announced that we would be going through a tunnel soon and to turn on our lights and keep our hands in the windows. It would be dark.  We stayed away from the bar car for a while but the draw was irresistible. After a few hours we were there again but you never left my side.  Then you did. I was looking for you but you would disappear and not answer me when I called you name. The tunnel went deeper and darker and I didn't know where you were and I started to suspect you liked it that way. The train began to slow down again as we exited the tunnel.

I finally found you back at our seat, you had moved one row away from me. I asked you to come back, tried to hold your hands but you pulled away with vehemence. When I came back from the bathroom you had moved another row farther. I knew I was losing you. I begged you to return but you told me calmly that it was time for you to get off. At some point in the tunnel you had decided that you didn't want to go anymore and your mind was made. You were going to catch another train at the next station.

When the train stopped I thought for sure you would reconsider but you didn't. Didn't even give it a thought. You just grabbed your coat and hat with one big bag under your arm. You kissed me on the cheek like a french stranger and were off. Going somewhere else on a different train. Just like that

I rode the rails for quite some time by myself , many people getting on and getting off, passing me by. Every once in a while I would think I saw you at a station or in a whiz though the window of another train. I thought I could smell you but when I breathed deeper it was always gone. Just a ghost dancing on the edge of my senses.

A young girl in a headband got on the train listening to headphones and dancing to herself. She sat down in the seat next to me and flashed a smile. She had a wedding ring on and I dismissed her immediately.  She didn't move from the seat or stop glancing my way. She eventually confessed that she wanted to talk. I told her I wasn't interested but she persisted.  I hadn't talked to anyone on the train for quite some time and after some more mild persistence, I gave in.

We had a lot in common. We were both riding alone, desperately wanted attention and were thrilled to receive some.  After a few laughs she slid her hand in to mine and interlaced her fingers. I left it there. It was warm, comforting and wrong. She was married but I had been riding alone so long it felt good to have some company. She stayed and we talked. She was broken and I had a knack for fixing things.  I fell asleep in with her head on my shoulder.

When I woke up  the train was flying up the track on the side of a mountain. The engineer must be trying to make up for lost time I thought to myself.

The girl was asleep with her head on my lap. I looked down at her hand and the rings were gone. She said she didn't need them anymore and had thrown  them out the window.  She could of sold them, I said, but she said she just wanted them gone so she could be mine. All of a sudden couldn't breath. This train was roaring down the tracks, the once gentle click clack had become a loud hum. Too loud all of a sudden. This girl in my lap who had just gotten on the train wanted to stay. I considered her for a while as she looked at me with big blue eyes, shining and wet, like a puppy in the shelter, terrified of rejection and desperate to be adopted.

At the peak of the mountain, just when the train began to even out, you waltzed back in to the car with a champagne flute in one hand and your bag in the other.

I don't know when or where you got back on, must have been a few stations ago when I stopped looking for you. Maybe you were wearing a disguise, who knows what you had been up to while you were gone. I'm not sure how long you were away but it was quite some time. That you had been through something was obvious, a new wrinkle had formed on your brow and you'r once confident stride had changed to a cautious stroll. What actually happened out there in the world I don't know.  I never asked and I don't want answers.

You looked at me and smiled. It was good to see that smile, like sun on my face on a brisk day.  You took a step toward me and then I looked down in my lap at the girl at the same time you did. I looked up and you and your smile were gone.

Everything I had begun to feel for this broken, head banded girl in my lap dried up like a puddle in  the dessert.  I quietly and gently nudged her awake and told her I had to use the bathroom. She put her head down on my coat and fell back into what ever trance she had been in, eyelids gently fluttering, eyes searching beneath them for what I would never give her.

I dashed up the isle and threw open the door, almost shattering the glass. There you were. Standing on the stairs with your head out the opening, the wind blowing your perfectly formed curls around your head like a blonde explosion of familiarity. I yelled your name and you dove in to me. My senses erupted, my mind went numb as the train was nearing another station and I inhaled your essence greedily.

We moved to another car. I abandoned my coat with the married girl and never looked back. I hope she found what she was looking for. I  never could have been the answer she was so desperately seeking but I know I  helped steer her towards it.

You told me you had encountered some other people out there on the rails and they had reminded you of what we had when we first left the station. I never forgot.  The train started to rock and get going again, we were back in the bar car and starting to brown out. We had to get off of this train right fucking now. In a desperate moment we looked at each other and put our hands, together, on the emergency brake cord. I looked in your eyes, your hand on top of mine and you kissed me while yanking down on the cord. Time slowed, the breaks squealed and everything exploded throwing luggage, people and the entire contents of the bar car in to a nondiscriminatory chaos . We got up off the ground, ran to the end of the car, dove off the side in to a soft patch of grass and rolled down a small incline. We watched as the conductor sifted through  the mess and interrogated the passengers, trying to ferret out the party responsible for pulling the brake. He spotted us off the side of the tracks and shook his fist while shouting every conceivable obscenity combination.

We laughed, held each other in the grass and kissed deeply. Watching the train pick up speed and disappear in to the hills as relief spread over me.

You interlaced your fingers in to mine and we both looked out to where the tracks disappeared into the horizon, wondering how far of a walk it was to the next station.

— The End —