Train Wreck

Train Wreck
by Jeff Dutko

The note was new, unexpected
and written in a surprisingly steady hand
very unlike the paper it came in on-
A jaundiced leaf of notepad
dog eared remnant from a time
before her departure and derailment

Ten years prior I had her son in my classroom
a cherubic boy of grimy exuberance
a distillation of fragmatic dreams
alcohol and exasperation
Now he’s again returned to me
an overweight, echolalic eyesore
toe-walking a path leading
inevitably to a state-run group home
His ill-fitting scraps of clothing
discarded too carelessly along the way
to provide the bread-crumb safety net
of nursery rhyme’s harmonious return

Despite the discolorization and creases
the note in my hands
took on the properties of refined reflective glass
mirrored image, present moment and past
open for slighted convexed viewing
This paper somehow survived the “trainwreck”
she quoted as her life, despite the allusion
she has narrowly and eternally eluded
final disaster, however the taste in her mouth
the omnipresent observer recognizes
as the words spilt out upon this paper
which is nothing more than an assemblance
of missed dates and apologies
for lagging paperwork shuffled along
unmeasured thoughts, the innuendo of plea

It did not mention (or need to)
how much she cared now for her son, my student
or didn’t care then or when those two
incomplete sentiments would loop themselves again
The failed jargon of her note
begged confirmation that these few words
could pass as a ticket to board another train
bound for a redemptive journey
she could review from this moment’s relative safety
while the tracks circle through the wreckage of her past
and caterwaul her through fires
that are now, and finally
fanning out faster than they can rekindle
Still having consumed the better parts of two lives
burning and feeding on scraps of yellowed paper

Sitting at the depot of his desk, the teacher, ticket taker
handles the note, places it in front of him
and stares at the page seeing both the words and his reflection
which ignites in the curl of yellow time

1 thought on “Train Wreck

  1. Jeff Dutko’s “Train Wreck” moves us along a road of self
    discovery and recovery in meaningful poignant passages of
    a poet’s observations with a critical eye of realistically
    protective and cognitive associations.

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