Kid, these are train tracks,

the train never comes.

You smell it anyway, its blue-coal
body. In August, the fringe sticky

with Queen Anne’s lace, you might
walk these tracks inside

gigantic noons. I walked them.
You might smash bottles,

start fires, watch clouds from
your back, breathe clouds through

the red sparks of cigarettes.
Take your first sips of bad

sweet wine, cry in a graveyard at night
with your best friend, a half moon

and grave dirt in your hair.
Have your first bad kiss here, like

swallowing a living fish. If you see
the older kids, run, god

knows why. They will chase you
into the waxy halls

of high school. Unlike me,
you will have all your music

in your hand, the best
movies, a phone that calls

everyone at once. Look up.
The big fires of June stars

are so slow and boring they will
keep you awake for good.

Swim the mucky river.
Wash your hair in clover-smell,

the swish of trees. The crows—
you can’t not love it

when they chatter the sun down.
Follow gravel roads

to screaming crickets
and beer, sleep out

on the hood of your
hand-me-down Honda,

wake up with yellow flowers
in your mouth. Walk the streets

on the first night
of fall, every tree swelling

with what I can’t say
and see in the lit-up houses

beautiful pictures
of strangers.

More by Jeffrey Bean

Ella’s Plan

She’ll hold her hand out a window
on a June day, snatch a chubby fistful of air,
clutch it all night beneath her sheets. 

Out of a dream of flight she’ll emerge,
vast as a yard of clover, and fall like a comforter
over the neighborhood. Then she’ll shimmer

like a maple in the wind. You might catch a whiff
of pine-sweet air—that’s her hair—but she’ll never
let you look right at her. She’ll dart in your periphery,

quick as a dining room mouse. Dusk,
she’ll gobble her handful of breeze, and puff
upward in pieces, into the hot-pink west.

How Ella Knows

Ella’s hands know she’s alive today.
Her piano is drenched in sunlight,
 
and she spends the morning coaxing hums
from its belly. She has made a pet of the wind,
 
and she lets it in through the screen door, feeds it
dried blooms from a rhododendron.
 
She thinks about all the mirrors in the houses
on her block. Then she crosses the street
 
to her neighbor’s yellow door, peers
through the mail slot. It’s dark in there,
 
and all she sees is a stack
of blue plates on a table. Where
 
are the secret drawers filled with cigarettes
and diaries? Where are the boxes of pliers
 
and hammers, the screws flexing
their tiny shoulders? The needles and gum?
 
When a spider drifts up toward the ceiling,
the afternoon stops moving. Ella stares
 
for a long time. Then she blinks,
and the leaves go back to sizzling.

Kid, this is October,

you can make the maples blaze
just by stopping to look,
you can set your clock to the barks
of geese. Somewhere the grandfathers
who own this town lean down to iron
crisp blue shirts, their faces bathing
in steam, and blackbirds
clamor in packs,
make plans behind corn.

You know this,
you were born whistling
at crackling stars, you snap
your fingers and big turtles
slide out of rivers to answer.

You can swim one more time
in the puddle of sun
in your water glass, taste icicles
already in the white crunch
of your lunch apple. Go
to sleep. I’ll put on my silver suit
and chase the sky into the moon.