The exit sign directs you
to go left but you stop, pivot
your foot, and turn right
into a dead-end.
Back up, retrace your steps. These walls
are the color of old bones and the gleaming red trail
you leave behind keeps spooling
like wet thread wrapped around your stone-cut heels.
The shadows pace alongside you, guide you
through this upturned sky; black wings that spread
over the white column of your spine. Chew on
a cold ball of wax and spit feathered pulp.
A bird flies overhead, you get
an idea: Now you soar.
Somewhere, an ice block melts
in a hot box. The railroad spikes
uproot themselves from the track
as a train shoots by at full speed,
coal-fed, with its metallic
vibrato and rattling smokestack.
A blue chink of sky runs parallel
between hitched freight cars.
The hard click-clack of wheels
grind, spark, then come to a reckless
halt. The busy-body passengers
spill onto the station platform,
driven on and off like livestock.
The passing wind knocks over
an empty trashcan in frustration.
No one bothers to pick it up.
John Roth's daily writing ritual consists of furiously jabbing at his keyboard and hoping for the best. His poems have appeared in Red Fez, Red Booth Review, and Red River Review. He likes the color red. See some awesome artwork at artofdroth.com