Brief Encounters with Old Trains – Brian Baumgart

I offer you my spine,

curved like the edge of a sea

shell, so you can stretch

the bones loose and listen

to blood puddles

curdling at our feet.

I sing, scratchy, off-key,

of wind: you sing,

but it’s hollow, an empty egg.


On the internet, I read about spying cell phones and microwaves, the CIA of frozen broccoli, about police chases and gun shots in wealthy neighborhoods and we never expected it here and where are the parents? and what’s happened to our beautiful children?


We swim on the surface

of frozen lakes, pressing

palms into ice until we hear

the music of cracking, and you

sink through, open your mouth

to show me the sun and moon;

your teeth are happy

gravestones, so I spin

like a lonely carousel.


When I was twelve, I watched my brother pry off the top of a rabbit’s skull with a Swiss Army Knife, and the only thing we found inside the hole was the future, so we sewed it back up, stringing wild grass through soft fur and skin, watched it scamper across the field, out of sight.


You set your jaw like a rabbit

trap, and the words draw out:

an old train coursing

through the night, barely

touching the tracks. The sounds

I don’t understand, so I stay

there, eyes wide in the darkness,

as the train comes in

and I never see it coming.

Brian Baumgart

Brian Baumgart’s Rules for Loving Right was published by Sweet Publications (2017), and his writing has appeared in or forthcoming in a number of journals, including Cleaver, Big Muddy, Whale Road Review, and Ruminate. He directs the Creative Writing Program at North Hennepin Community College. For more:

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