Amtrak Overnight
by Don Brennan

Whoever pinned stars against the L.A. night holds me captive in a window seat until the desert mountains show their teeth.

Joshuas raise arms like followers of Vodoun performing sacred rites along the tracks. Hunted creatures creep beneath the sage, lying low, drawing unnoticed conclusions about surviving time and space.

Hesitant serpents complain, tongues traversing the four directions, stalking last light through trailer parks. An occasional cloud of dust appears at my window to roll unsettled eyes, then vanishes. A late watch of nightingale sings to us at a rest stop, restoring order in the grip of electric wires.

Sleep, an obsessed thief whose time is running out, interferes with my meditations, and consciousness gets lost attempting astral flight at the faltering speed of a train.

An angry woman, having somehow soaked her only pair of socks in cream soda, rages into my sleep. Unfamiliar men, painfully young and drunk on absurdity, play dominoes ‘til dawn.

Restless children begin to dance with daylight and colouring books on the leading edge of New Mexico. Outside my window, mesquite and mourning dove listen to a steel train cry at sunrise. The scalding surface of a cup of coffee at my touch, trembles through a long curve.