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The Houston Literary Review
2006 New Year Issue


Freight Train


Aroused from a vagrant slumber,
I wash our morning's
vanquished sex
from beside a cloudless pool


I hear the clackity-clacking
western-bound freight train
and Helen's laughing
shadow dancing along
the boot-black
railroad tracks.


I feel the rich Neches River clay
beneath my feet and
fill my lungs with the
unwashed scents of post cards
mailed from faraway places.


Arms pumping
in the heated
East Texas breeze,
I glance back
remember the chores
and books left unread.


My legs are old, I say.
She laughs, encouraging
my steps with a glance
of her swollen breast.


I race to grab hold
her dew-worn smile
and cheat the boxcar's
silent wheels.


Bill Brocato


for Aubrey Ray Williams
I sleep late
into the spring afternoons
beneath cherry blossoms and
butterflies drifting on April's
warm salty breeze.
I awaken to the trembling
cadence of horse's hooves
dancing across a barren
prairie sky.
I glimpse a tall shadow
rising, a dust devil
wearing my uncle's worn
leather jacket, his fierce
brown eyes closed
against the wind.
I taste sweet chromium
on my silent tongue.
His youth, a carnival
of boyish taunts led him
to other continents,
countries, where he
traded bullets for dollars,
pennies for bread.
An acrobat
he came home
some life lost
from his eyes.
A fall perhaps,
a missed grasp
crippled his heart,
they said.
Bill Brocato