Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Mobilization, 1914

The dream of the train runs through the dream of the country:
the oblique hilltops and abrupt firs, the vanishing
pastures and sudden goat, all of a moment’s desire
like a farmer’s gaze watching the train pass. The windows
are infinitely senile and burning with late June.
Dry-tongued, they roll their own cigarettes, the sly old men
sitting on stone benches outside each station, waiting
for no train, only absolution by sacrifice
of the ticketless young men littering the platform
in uniform, slow-moving, in search of conviction
and shade. Cigarettes cannot take the edge off their hot
procrastination. But soon they, too, will be absolved:
saved from lust and matrimony, their mothers’ straying
hearts and their fathers’ cunning lack of intelligence,
from the pastures, the stiff ache, the complexion of rust,
saved from the old men and their lopsided jowls, chewing
on the same old alibi, bitter to have survived.  

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