Escaped Patients Killed By Train

I used to collect weird newspaper headlines and stories. One of them inspired the poem below.

“Escaped Patients Killed By Train”

was the headline
that would have everyone believe
in irony
as flesh:
hot-blooded and glamorous,
gorgeous and deadly,
and always poised perfectly
to strike.

But the story itself
says something else,
how the two women “had walked out of the mental health unit
even though the two-story facility was locked
and lay down in front of a
freight train that
struck and killed them.”

Irony in this case,
not hot-blooded at all,
but actually
a bit clammy
and somewhat annoyed
at having to crouch patiently
under bridges and wait
for victims.

The Train in this case,
entirely free
from any real guilt
just in the wrong place
at the wrong time—
yet to the women,
wholeheartedly right
on schedule.


Border Crossing

Border Crossing

by Samantha Prust

Red trolley wedged
in the coast’s maw
rumbles down, down, down and stops
where bodies line up and cross the border
into Mexico.

Taxis pull over to curbs slowly
like smooth sharks
nosing their paths
among tan calves dangling
from a surface of clear, waveless water.

Smiling, you weave through yellow, green, gold
and silver masks reflecting the sun.
Devil dogs’ tongues wag in the waves of prickly heat
as you notice the best selection of lawn ornaments
you’ve ever seen.

Plucking a skull here, a flamingo there,
Dropping shiny coins into the women’s open hands
makes you feel much better as you watch them
wind, pull, loop and tie threads into bracelets
that you snatch for a dollar each.

Grinning politely, you whirl around and step
neatly into the customs line, serenaded while you wait
by a child wailing “La Bamba” as she picks her nose
and nudges a sombrero
with her bare toe.