After Aretha Died
A song of hope? That most dangerous of drugs, currently Walter's drug of choice. Maybe Aretha wasn't all gloom and doom after all. And yet, as if the song was meant for him and him alone, the man's eyes glistened.
The magician was Internet date number 99, not that anyone was counting. I wanted him to be 100; I felt there was something enchanted about a magician being my 100th, but the 99s kept canceling or were no-shows.
In Real Life
I have no time. I'm a good person. They say. They don't know what I know. My sonís one-year death anniversary for jumping off the Bay Bridge was six days ago.
She was by the bananas. They put them at the end, one whole big table full of themópeople buy a lot of bananas. She wasnít buying though. She was just standing there, peeling them.
Mindy's friends had all been delightfully shocked when she announced her decision to go teach in China. They were even more flabbergasted when she told them where. Haining. Not Shanghai. Not Beijing. Not a place that could conjure images of Mao suits or great walls or parades or pandas or jazz clubs or gangsters or impossibly tall buildings.
The concrete floor appeared permanently scarred, with gasoline and oil, of course, and substances Saeed didnít want to consider. Along the walls, though, the floor looked cleaner. He tried to imagine the direction of Mecca, because heíd found a place in one corner that looked the cleanest and where no one was likely to notice the rug.
Little Victories, Big Canyons
Was there a worse fate than waiting for the bus? Kristin didnít think so but in fairness,
the circumstances of her life (no kids, on a diet) never really led her to think about infanticide or famine.
The bus: how humiliating.
Thirteen and Spring
Mitch Ryder shouted like a lunatic greaser racing down Woodward Avenue in a '66 Mustang at night. This is where it begins if you're a white rock and roll kid from Detroit. From there you move on to The Stooges and The MC5, cross over to The Romantics, then leap right into The White Stripes and The Dirtbombs.
Eric D. Goodman
Heíd fulfilled his dream on the train, always meeting new people and having interesting conversations, but never being forced to get too intimate. On again and off again, none of them latched on for a lifetime.
Clyde is as Big as a Hero
Stanley B. Trice
Clyde wondered if she had a Rubik Cube personality. Having a
relationship with her would be extra work that could burn off calories.
Get a psycho girlfriend, stress over why you got her, and worry when she
Love Me Tender
Elvis had skate parties for nine days before he reported to the Army, but Mom didn't work any of them, and Doris wouldn't let me in alone after hours. Every night I lay awake, wondering whether he looked for me at the rink.
John P. Loonam
Two weeks after Emily broke off our engagement, I found myself in the Bed Bath and Beyond on 6th Avenue, returning a pair of champagne flutes, and hoping to see her returning other wedding presents, but I didn't.
Fidel & Me
If there's one key word in scouting, it's observe, and that's something I did plenty of as we approached what Comrade Dayana called a finca.
Walt Whitman at the game
Walt Whitman /
containing multitudes /
spreads his plump rump on the bleachers /
his blooming beard caressed by diamond breezes
So my parents decided to send me to a pitching clinic in California put on by former MLB pitcher and pitching coach Tom House to figure out if I was cut out for pitching.
The Unwelcome Right Fielder - 1961
It was late summer, just a few weeks before /
Roger Maris turned twenty-seven.
I couldnít forget it, and I hated Mickey Mantle for many years. I remember thinking I was glad my father did not tell me all of this that night in 1966.
Sports Talk Radio (1927)
Man, there were like 60,000 people there. Can you believe it? Let me tell you something. It cost fifty cents a seat. Are these guys crazy? I mean, to take a family of four to a ballgame is two bucks just to walk through the gates and into the stadium.
It all started
with such promise / He gobbled up every grounder on the left / side of the infield /
like dogs at dinnertime / channeled his tics into a ritual dance / that every kid
in New England
I will arise tomorrow morning / jump enthusiastically into my /
well-stocked, ancient Honda / and take off for Mesa, Arizona /
spring training home of the hated / Chicago Cubs baseball pretenders
the scream and
squeal of factory whistles
was silenced by the swift / crack of a Kaline rifle shot / and the avalanche of voices /
Al's bullet set in motion / cascading from Michigan and Trumbull clear across the / Mackinaw Bridge then into
the blue of Lake Superior
Bringing my Mitt
My obsession for the game quickly became well known. At family gatherings, I would eagerly ask my countless Italian cousins "Did you bring your mitt?" Usually, they did not. But of course, I did. And I never lost hope that someday, they would bring theirs.
It must have been something / about his name, Eddie Matthews / a regal baseball name /
that rolled off the tongue / Sounding so slick, so smooth / like someone who gobbled /
every ground ball pounded at him
mr. condon's house / foul territory north / because of the rottweiler /
we called t-rex / mean mr. bailiff's / touch-me-not studebaker / always parked in right field /
taught us to be pull hitters
January 16, 2021
Welcome to Slow Trains, where the postcards never stop.
Slow Trains in print & Best Online Journals, guest-edited by Pam Houston
The self-titled solo album Jaco Pastorius (1976) begins with the jazz standard "Donna Lee" by John Coltrane, maybe about the hardest jazz standard melody to master on saxophone or trumpet, but here comes Jaco playing it on the electric bass!
In Las Vegas, he showed up at a club at 2 am and turned my scowling girlfriend, who'd stood, waiting, for four hours, into a barefoot funk goddess. (At the end, as we walked out of that show, the floor was littered with beer cups and heels.)
Teaching Rules to Saudi Girls
These students, some of whom had been to Paris and Los Angeles with their families, were proud of the modernity of their city, the skyscrapers, the conveniences, the Western food items filling the grocery stores in the huge malls squatting the length of a city block. But they thought the rest of the world ungenerously judged Saudi women.
of slow trains
Girl Warrior: Breaking Away With Joan of Arc
If Joan of Arc had graduated from high school in the U.S. in 2009, her favorite pop song would have been "Break Away" (Kelly Clarkson). That's what I thought when I arrived in her hometown, Domrémy-la-Pucelle, and glimpsed her house.
Slayer!: An Essay in Thirteen Parts
At Musicians Institute of Technology (the other MIT) in Hollywood, California, there were generally two kinds of students: the metalheads and the jazzheads. All the metalheads liked the jazz stuff, mostly, and could play it, whereas the jazz guys had no interest in Slayer or Metallica (and were maybe not even aware these groups even existed) and couldn't have played metal to save their lives
Finding My Policeman
Ten years later, while both of us were living in New York, I met Kate at the famous Automat on Third Ave at 42nd Street, which was like a penny-arcade fever dream for compulsive eaters. By this time, I was attending OA meetings, but the lemon meringue pie behind a certain glass door was emitting a frequency that went off in my head like a siren.
I was training for a marathon at the time, which for an Ironman triathlete --used to swimming, then biking, then running a marathon --is an a la carte experience.
How I Spent My Spring Vacation Riding and Reading Taxis in Cairo
Itís difficult to know what your money will be used for in India.
I wondered what my view of Cairo would be and compared myself to Mahfouzí early 20th-century mother character, who remains isolated within her apartment during her entire married life except for a brief visit to the neighborhood mosque that ends in tragedy: a car hits her, and worse, her strict Muslim husband banishes her for having shown herself in public without his permission.
Rich White Tourist
Itís difficult to know what your money will be used for in India.
All I know is that Iím a rich, white tourist on her way to get her palms read by a Hindu priest below a rug shop in the Old City. Suddenly, I hate myself for that fact and I feel my cheeks redden.
Surely he's not going to write a short story about a campus massacre at a state university and then go out and commit one in order to produce an interesting essay for his English class.
Copper Canyon: Places I Went
The bucolic lodges we stayed in during our ten-day trip in Mexicoís Copper Canyon met my basic needs for baÒos with hot and cold water and flush toilets. Nighttime brought star-freckled skies and the distant howl of coyotes.
Los Gringos And Us
Sometimes our hearts oscillate between our adoptive and native country
like a fragile tree that bends in the direction of the wind. We feel that we donít belong anywhere.
Tangled Up in Blue
Monica J. Casper
I hesitate for a split second, weighing my profound craving for adventure against the lunacy of befriending these possible serial killers. They're all good-looking. But they might have knives. Or wives. Or herpes. Or tiny dicks.
Visualizing a Stallion
Act like a triangle. Become a turtle. Hook your index finger into your
groin and throw your right leg over your left shoulder. Salute the sun. Cast your dristhi
to the sky. Strength. Prana. Balance. Namaste.
Talking Dirty to the Kids
We start walking, Jim and Ms. Universe hold hands. When weíre half way across, the road crew opens up with a jack hammer. It sounds just like an enemy machine gun. Me and Jim drop to the pavement. We start to low crawl through traffic.
On the Death of Seamus Heaney
My father saw
Ted Williams /
back from Pacific hell /
swinging two bats
in the on-deck circle /
like the definition
Baseball Loves You Back
F. John Sharp
she planned it, seducing you / in Harwell's voice, painting in your ear the art of Kaline, Cash, Lolich, Horton, beconing you to dirt patches / where right field was out and your brother pitched to both sides
Send comments to: editor (at) slowtrains (dot) com.
Plum nipples and your
flowing mane, ravishing /
tropical dusk. Brown.
Lover. Cream and
I saw a woman shape a piece of / silver into a spoon with a hammer. / I would like to believe that I was made this way.
Leaving the concert hall
Walt Whitman at the game
She is eleven, maybe twelve /
but numbers no longer matter /
for she has heard Bach and Mozart /
for the first time /
has mastered the mathematics of the wind /
the heart's algebra
the morning tide captures drifting ice /
piles of meaningless resolve /
dragging back to the sea /
a parade of frozen white /
have I turned away from love
Fingertips over wire and wood /
I leaned into my cello for meaning
White girl with dreads
Erren Geraud Kelly
And I love the way she rocks them /
As Bob Marley plays in the coffeehouse /
In a small college town /
Just as a Charlie Parker cd /
Is fading away in my headphones
Genetically Isolated Since the Ice Age
a flailing Kodiak bear dragging a rusted /
trap in my wake so you can all see where Iíve been /
until the starvation caught me /
tackled me to the earth and I breathed in the musk /
of where weíre all going
The Lost Teacher
Where the wind cut low across the treeless /
hills with their edges of stone /
Mister Shaw took his paints /
to mix with earth he scooped bare-handed /
so heíd have more than the colour /
on the canvas
The Only Orange, Otherwise
K. Edward Dunn
Orange was the color of her dress, then blue silk; and /
she was a poet at her podium, thumbing through her /
pages like an upright bass solo, the rest of the quartet
Man and Beast
Lee Marc Stein
In Asia, users call their tablet /
iPad Thai as it delivers /
the Ten Commandments of /
steaming curry and /
Pleasures of the Day
The pleasures of the day include /
your predictable distance from me /
at the breakfast table, the simple /
movement of your hands leafing /
back to the preface of a book, and /
even the shoes that are not in the /
Libertine / The Draw of the West
I passed neighbors
chatting on cool lawns /
a man stooping to gather oranges /
under a solitary tree, and came upon my own /
street and scene: my children trampolining /
through falling shadows of oak leaves
Oil on Canvas
arrested / at the Hite
If we could ask the birds / in an on-camera expose they might say /
What causes two thousand humans to fall out of love? Spill from front doors /
in the morning, untangled from sheets and lovers
Cat People #4
if you want to bebop with me,
tabby-O, you'll have to get up /
on the downbeat / raise the hump /
on the catwalk / angora pouty /
On Top, On Bottom, and Those in the Middle
the floor envies /
the ceilingís /
majestic station /
the ceiling envies /
the floorís /
firm foundation /
The Art of Reading
Learning Colors in Russian
Because the teacher smiles, I want to please her / someday say the words
for steppes and snow / to know more
than Lenin, Putin, vodka, Zhivago
Stephanie Kaplan Cohen
I must murder, erase,
the solitaire game / from my computer. It amuses /
tantalizes, demands, commands
David M. Harris
The good cop says, "Not too bad." /
The tough one talks of faulty /
rhymes, dysfunctional meter, inept /
lineation, enjambement and caesura
A Joyful Noise (with parasols)
Richard T. Rauch
And Iím thinking mauve parasols bobbing along the Seine /
impressionistically, of course, spring strolls in tasteful 1890s lace
The Workweek Never Ends
Martin Willitts Jr.
Deliver us from this heat / make us lie down on cool sheets of shade /
pour us a spigot of lemonade showers
Two Days Prior to the Burial / How to Oil an Indian Manís Hair
memory forgive me / I miss your accent /
when I hear it in my voice say eugene / guitar / fuchsia /
i miss the days when i didnít notice the difference in our skin /
Books from Slow Trains writers
Our continuing section on peace & politics during these critical times
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
All material in Slow Trains is copyrighted to the original authors and may not be reproduced without permission. Violators will be prosecuted.