Gunslinger On The Line by john keast

This carriage groans with its own heft.

It has been here too long:

The paint falls from its flanks,

The leather of its seats has formed patterns:

Little stars spreading into other stars; white lines of split leather.

Please be seated.

Face forward.

There is a clock in the platform window; black hands saying

It is time to go.

It lurches and yaws, and the luggage nets wobble.

A child grasps the pitted stainless steel posts.

Wobble and roll.

A frail woman in a wheelchair waves as the carriage slides from view.

Her man is aboard, beaming, sucking in the engine’s black smoke:

Past the duck-back cottage, past the white church –

Ever up the line.

Tickets, please – and silver snips punch a hole.

The young conductor gives them a twirl:

There’s a gunslinger on the line

Originally posted on


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