He walks as if stepping through a fallen ladder
tall enough to have once reached heaven.
Today, it reaches a line of boxcars
abandoned on the rusty tracks to nowhere.
Haze smolders from cauterized scars
of bum fires. He crosses a charred trestle
above a rapids of shards and startles
a dog pack pulling at a ball of rags.
When he tries reason, they bristle--
bared teeth more menacing for their smiles,
eyes enlarged with rage, rather than fear
of the rebar he's picked from weeds
and cocks like a bat until their circle tightens
and he slashes so that at least air whines.
In this dull light, the bedspread snatched
from a clothesline and shredded resembles
a trembling child, though if it were,
he's sure the dogs would not have left it.
The jolt, a shotgun blast, scatters the pack.
Bloodied rags rise on wooly legs, bray,
and totter into underbrush. He stands paralyzed,
listening for the boxcars to couple again,
but they stretch boundless, silent, undisturbed.
If they moved, he'd climb aboard.
Appeared in Monkey Business