february 8th, 1878
south of trout creek, west of cedar lake
on a winding mountain trail of the north pacific union rail
the snow arrived on time, the circus train was running late
rip spot’s past and all the knuckles worn,
firebox bursting to the running boards
a pounding in his chest, crushing like a cider press
the hogger rode the throttle ‘round the bender like a flank-strapped horse
[elephant (addressing the frightened animal car):]
“let’s return now to the dust as the dust we are;
tonight, our bridal fate, the hour’s come to consummate!”
and drove her m-ssive body like a truck into the iron bars
limestone thrown from out the hopper’s back
ash cat tossed against the diamond stack
from cradle to caboose, the frozen bolts broke loose,
sent that cage spinning like a dreidel off the icy tracks
run on, rabbit, run!
before the east sky wakes the sun!
sails set to the dreadful cold,
until your anchor-heart takes hold
run on, fox & bear,
from this dismal dream’s despair!
cast thoughts to in the open ocean of air
until your thread catch somewhere
[animals:] “mother, please come along!”
[elephant (from inside her cage):]
“my tusks are dull, my eyes, half-blind,
too old to run, too big to hide,
and have neither friend nor enemy,
nor that phantom, ‘self’-ident-ty
nor concern for what ‘they’ll’ do to ‘me’
now, my children, run free!”
but tiger, why sit still,
as the officers climb the hill?
what stars cast down their spears,
cooled your fire with their tears?
[tiger:] “gone that siren’s sound,
it’s a silence now pours down
gone, my next of kin,
and all once without now lives within”
[fox & rabbit:] “topiary tiger, once burned bright
save your tales of gnostic sight
and take heed on this (most) auspicious night!
topiary tiger, once burned bright”