nobody knows what to say

by underswansea


there ain’t no caboose on the trains these days
the tracks run silver beside the river
you always knew when they were hauling sulphur
because of the smell.

the cars were loaded mostly with coal
my mother said stay away from the tracks
and don’t get hit.

times were changing
they always were
and still are.

the lake was beyond those tracks
sometimes we had to crawl through
culverts to get to the shore.

we shot each other with pellet guns
stole dirty magazines and condoms
drank booze we found hidden by Indians.

we cursed using the really bad ones like
motherfucker and cocksucker.

once we lifted a bunch of railway flares
and lit them all at once
what a sight and that smell of sulphur.

a molten spark jumped
it burned my top knuckles to the bone
there was something about it that felt good.

the skin grew back hard
whenever something needed a punch
the knuckles hit first.

it’s no way to clear up a disagreement
or make a point
but it’s served me well.

in a world where you
fight your own battles
and refuse to be hit by the train.