The Long Ride


The roaring of a train
I heard last night when I opened the windows
now that summer has ebbed,
shot me sideback wayward
to nights with Mom in a bed
in Grandpa’s big house
listening to lumbering oily hulks call to me
from far across town
all night long.
The first time we took a train,
Mom and me,
we ate sandwiches
and drank tall glasses of chocolate milk
in the white-linened dining car.
She told me not to stare at the dark suited old man
talking to the empty seat next to him.
I just wanted to see if he ordered two lunches
but she wouldn’t let me look.
She said I needed to understand that he was sick
like anybody can get sick
but in his mind.
Like anybody can get sick—
Last night when I heard the lonely
horn blast of the train
I wanted to rush out and buy a ticket.
I wanted to journey.
Do people still ride them?
Do trains still have dining cars?
If so, I’m pretty sure I’d find him there still,
talking to a shadow only he can see.
Someone who keeps him company
throughout the long ride.


Jeff Jeppesen is an IT professional and writer living in Houston, Texas. His work has previously appeared in Potpourri, Strange Horizons and Everyday Poets. He has work soon to appear in Illumen.

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