21 November 1999

Lost Poem Found

80 characters

the magician first made three german tourists disappear and then for his last act he made an entire car of our train disappear. really convincing. i looked back and the car that had been foloowing ours was no longer there. thirty feet behind us i saw the rest of the train following us down the rattling tracks, apparently unconnected. i decided to go forward to the dining car squeezing past a policeman and then a suspicious-looking gentleman whose goatee was obviously a disguise, as it had come partially unglued from his face. the dining car was full. i saw a disgruntled cocktail pianist try to carry off fluid renditions of the chattanooga choo-choo while being elbowed continually by the dense crowd of wild cocktailers. It was here, after elbowing my way to the bar beneath the glittering chandelier past someone dressed as the mummy, another as the cat-woman, another dressed as a transparency of a cross-section of an eyeball, that i met lucille. she was dressed as a train, bedecked from locomotive to caboose in glittering cars of every description. a porter asked her for a light and she opened a grille to reveal smoking coals upon which the porter cautiously ignited his trembling cigarette and fled. she let loose a deafening whistleblast, frightening a scotsman, a ballet instructor, and a cowboy. a barbershop quartet took advantage of the silence to launch into perfect she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes. ihad heard that all five of the rolling stones would be on this train trip, and i wondered if they were in this car somewhere, but it was impossible to see anybody except a vacuum cleaner salesman, tinged with formaldehyde, trying to deliver an earnest pitch to a haggard mom with twins and a miniature dachsund which would not stop yapping from her ruby studded purse. the piano player had switched to take the a-train. I made my way through the crowd to the other end of the car, on the way requesting a double carrot juice from the bartender, shaking hands with a calm man in a pink leisure suit, accepting flowers from an irish woman, meeting an acquaintance from high school with whom i had costarred in the school production of the little engine who committed suicide as well as her fiancee, who refused to say a word, and also waltzing with a polar bear who was obviously drunk. in the next car there was a string quartet rehearsing quartet 1934 and the cellist glared at me as i stumbled through. it was a practice car but there was no way around it. the next car had glass windows so you could see the fishes swimming by outside. the next car was dark. as i wandered in, a shot rang out followed by the sound of a body falling downstairs. the lights came on and there were eight of us, not including the dead man. the inspector lit his pipe, puffing slowly, and walked from one end of the mahogany car to the other, eyeing us. a prim school teacher spoke up, confessing that she was guilty of murdering the victim. she produced a handgun from her purse and tossed it to the mahogany-tiled floor. the inspector glanced at it. "that gun has never been fired" he spat. a wrestler, clad in tights and yellow boots, spoke with moving eloquence: "i had every reason to kill him. here is a letter he wrote me yesterday. it was in his vest pocket. he hadn't mailed it yet." the inspector stared out the window at the passing cliffs. "a forgery" he muttered. a raven-headed beauty of a young man broke down into tears. "insanity!" he cried. the inspector scoffed and, absorbed in the spectacular view of a steep jagged fall into certain death, lit a match on a passing gnat. an astronaut spoke up, his voice crackling from a speaker in his helmet. "the train experienced a sudden cabin pressure loss whereupon he got dizzy and fell down a flight of stairs. the inspector opened the window wider. the four horsemen of the apocalypse stared down at the mahogany baseboard and shuffled their hooves. they spoke in unison: "well, we didn't do it." the inspector lit a second pipe, threw the window wide, pointed out, and cried: "___________!"

Newspoetry at Spineless Books