Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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.

Credit


Copyright © 2016 Jeffrey Bean. This poem originally appeared in The Missouri Review. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Jeffrey Bean

Jeffrey Bean is the author of the poetry collections Woman Putting on Pearls (Red Mountain Press, 2017) and Diminished Fifth (WordTech Communications, 2009) and the chapbooks The Voyeur's Litany (Anabiosis Press, 2016) and Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2014). He is a professor of English at Central Michigan University and lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Date Published: 2018-11-26

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/kid-these-are-train-tracks