The Third Rail – Track 1

The Third Rail

The squirrel in a hurricane
Buffeted by strong gusts
And jostled by the swaying branch
Does not overworry that the tree might fall.

The crevalle jack swims next to the shark
But does not flinch in fear
Like I do when I’m driving
And I see the flashing lights of a police cruiser
Up ahead
On the shoulder of the road.

The rabbit under the open sky
Though he keeps a sensible watch for the eagle and the fox
Never wonders whether his life might be made a little easier
If he had a prescription for Klonopin.

And if you happen to catch a horse
Prancing alone under the moonlight
Moving as if to music only she can hear
And she happens to catch you watching her
You will not see a look of embarrassment
Cross her long face.

Unless it’s embarrassment for you.

As I ride the el-train tracks of this physical life
So poorly insulated is my wiring
That I can actually feel the third rail underneath me
Humming and crackling with power.

I put on my headphones
Read my book
Stare out the window
Or curl into sleep
And miles can go by without my awareness
Of the rail’s crackling hum.

But sometimes I fall from the train
Nudged by an indifferent shoulder
Thrown by an judgmental curve
Pushed by an angry passenger.

And I fall so close to the third rail of this manifest realm
That the hairs stand up on my arms
And ozone scrapes my nostrils
And at once I’m filled with visions
Of falling trees and swooping eagles
Of thrashing sharks and snarling foxes.

The pounding flash of the cruiser’s lightbar
Plays perfect unisons with the beat of my heart
And in the distance I can hear
As the train speeds away

The nervous laughter of a prancing horse.


photo credit: Swing Low via photopin (license)

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