Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Palmetto Train

Last week tourists went into space
& took the scenic track.

They learned to operate
the mostly computer-guided rocket

in the event of an emergency.

I wish to deal with such enormity

in the details. Who wouldn’t want
to see our Earth rise from abyss

& oh don’t we look just

a little off-kilter?

The star-flecked Lake Michigan

as seen by an employee in Gary
Works Steel Mill is not

the ultraview effect any of us
were looking for,

to see our tiny life reflected back

on a blue-deep preceded by dunes.
But it’s what we have.

I’m here on the train again, wishing

to be headed back to my Midwest,
to a winter storm of snow

at Indiana Harbor, Cleveland-Cliffs,
St. Joe’s—all stove-dome furnaces & sweat.

Twice this year—explosions,
big enough to resemble a smaller sun.

In the event of an emergency,

the mill workers wear garments similar
to our Earth’s first space tourists. To look

at another is to see their own faces
reflected back through a metallic sheen.

If ever my father—nineteen, at an extension
of Bethlehem Steel—had the chance

of outer space, he’d go. Where
this train is headed is certain

to be palmetto trees, but only long after my stop.
The hard part is getting off knowing

what more will come after. A father opening
the hatch. A silent fire. A new arrival.  

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