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A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
A Pedophilic Caboose
I lay my face against the sunlit train tracks, hot steel burning through my jawbone, cheek, and temple, praying to a train that will blanket me. The high-carbon magic carpet to the end of the rainbow--sweating and shaking to the drone of monarch butterflies stretching their wings--perturbed patterns lost forever amid the obstinate desert wind. Why is that goddamned train so slow? Yellow birds circle; they have seen suicides on these tracks,
traps heated by the warm blood of humans. Vultures orbit.
Cell rings but there is no need to remove it from my pocket. Society burns into my eyelids. Sockets soon to be obliterated. There is no trophy, yet Australopithecus reveres its heroes for accomplishments. I once climbed the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge and aimed for an approaching tourist boat, but missed. It happened during a class trip. Bones were broken, embedded chunks punctured organs and ribs collapsed, but that was that. My heart was fine. I remember falling, sharpening terror, dire regret ballooning after letting go of red rust, then the need to prepare myself to plunge feet-first into the frozen deathbed.
Nymphalidae: the family of monarch butterflies which we were studying on the yellow school bus as we approached the bridge. We had teachers who sat with us to make the most of the field trip and prevent us from giving aggressive hand-jobs in the back rows in front of the emergency exit. There was a note sent home about an incident--that image of my father burning the evidence in the fireplace before informing my mother that we would
be taking the train to California.
# 2 pencils (two), freshly shaven, are stuffed inside my hairy nostrils, the erasers lodged in the cartilage, stretching the cavity. The steel must have been hotter than an oven. Feel it melting my flesh into the railroad. Bluebirds circle lower, the butterflies hover above the erasers, searching for answers on the bridge of my nose. Smell the sunburn creeping into the folds of my flesh. It is an atavistic aroma which I have always savored, almost as
much as the odor of gasoline being pumped into filthy big rigs behind the Bob’s Big Boy where Dad clutched me against the hot musty air purring from the dashboard covered in puddles of sweat, and red licorice.
Smoke ejaculates in a black plume above the tallest tulip trees and spray-painted buildings with orange windows where the real fumes pollute the children. The track vibrates, and its pulse pounding in my eardrums, the August earth dances, fluorescent
flashes behind clenched eyelids with the bioluminescence of dying fireflies. Her whistle is so welcome, and the warmth of her locomotive odor, breathing into my throat, bearing down on my organs with the majestic fury of an angry man making love.
I can see my father’s irises in the ditch lights behind the engine, his overalls and conductor’s hat grimed with sweat and coal. I can taste his tongue through the licorice phlegm, and hear the warnings from his decrepit lungs as he overcomes the urge to jump, and the brakes grinding to the inertia of butterflies falling from the sky.
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