The Steinach Operation

A place of semi-natural vigor.


Elisa Gabbert's penultimate (cue welling).


We were on the last train. The armageddon train.
Approaching our deaths asymptotically.
I read over the shoulder of the woman next to me.
Her book was filled with sentences of such profundity
they’d invented a new font to print them in.
The footnotes assured me this was not an allegory.
The kid across from us was clutching a permission slip.
He said he was going on a field trip to see a dead body.
Aren’t we all, kid, I said, aren’t we all.
He said he’d had to forge his mom’s signature.
I told him that we’d all committed our forgeries.
Every train has its crazy but this train
had five or six, shuffling from end to end
and mumbling the wisdoms of the itinerant insane.
Stay on the porch with the door closed, of course.
Of course. Conklin dropped his cane on the rug.

The young man to my left said he’d just turned twenty-one
and was ready to get totally wasted.
I said we were all about to get totally wasted.
Bombed out of our minds and bodies. Eternally bombed.
All right, all right. Let me get my breath.
He said, “Check out that bitch
with the leopard-skin pants. She’s got a smoking ass.”
I would have killed for one last cigarette
before we all went down in flames. To dust. To ash.
Would you rather I took a nerve out of your neck?
There’s nothing free in this world, I said.
You pay $1.25 to ride your own hearse.
Self-appointed the basket of! Ideological carryout!
Sleazy motherhood of bloodstream.

I loved these people, these beautiful jerks.
I didn’t want to die with them.
I couldn’t bear their innocence.
They weren’t ready to inherit the earth.
Godchildren the homesick. Synthetic toothpick,
sublet it. An essay of glass.


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