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Robert Persons

Last Ride

You thought you could do it

by walking your feet on the coals
and waiting for the rain.
God, you said, was in the steam --
the whistle of the locomotive train.
Shining chariot bringing hobo cherubs
creased across the golden rods,
their sins deliciously myriad,
their fall to the very pit,
their judgment in a moment's sleep
carved by persistent wheels
on unending relentless rails.
It is one long machine
with its own consistent truth,
you said, from yard to yard
one molecule in the body
of the steel judge.

But there was a place, you said,
where the yards ended
and the sky began,
and you would be the One,
sanctified in steam, to drive
the 'boes to salvation.
So you walked the coals and waited the rain,
but steam burned your eyes out
and a crate crushed your brain.
And the 'boes drew a skull
on the car with the stain.
It rides empty of cherubs,
it rides oblivious to pain.
Sanctified in steam, broken in the box,
did your soul spit your gold tooth?
did your soul steal your socks?
Robert Persons has been writing poems and short stories for years more than he'd like to tell. Many of these have appeared in Ford Times, Wisconsin Academy Review, Jean's Journal, Tempest, Verse Wisconsin, Voices International, Blue Fifth Review, Asimov's Science Fiction, Aphelion, Tangent, Jupiter SF, and others.
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