In Real Life
I have no time. I'm a good person. They say. They don't know what I know. My son’s 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 them—people buy a lot of bananas. She wasn’t 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 didn’t want to consider. Along the walls, though, the floor looked cleaner. He tried to imagine the direction of Mecca, because he’d 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 didn’t 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
He’d 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 didnÕt work any of them, and Doris wouldnÕt 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.
My thoughts shift, habitually, to the old chestnut about Mark Twain entering
the world in tandem with Halley's Comet, and his prophetic musing that he would stick
around until the comet made a return visit. I consider the fact that I was born the same
year the first H-bomb was detonated, and am troubled by the parallel.
Hearing impaired most her life, she knows a thing or two about loneliness: always there but never included.
Communication is the barrier to potential friendships. Groups shun her. Individuals move on, feeling detached.
At the buffet table, I had felt virtuous, well, and Mediterranean, imagining the nutrients trans-substantiated into glowing flesh spreading like balm over my non-remarkable bones. I like that: trans-substantiated nutrition.
Love Me Tender
If things worked out with Don, if he ever left his wife (her name was Claire and she was a Creative Memories consultant, that was about all Bonnie had gotten to know about her), Bonnie would have an instant family.
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 couldn’t 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
October 22, 2014
Welcome to Slow Trains, where the postcards never stop.
Slow Trains in print & Best Online Journals, guest-edited by Pam Houston
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.
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
of slow trains
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
It’s 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 Mahfouz’ 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
It’s difficult to know what your money will be used for in India.
All I know is that I’m 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 Mexico’s Copper Canyon met my basic needs for baños 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 don’t 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 we’re 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.
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
Send comments to: editor (at) slowtrains (dot) com.
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
Genetically Isolated Since the Ice Age
a flailing Kodiak bear dragging a rusted /
trap in my wake so you can all see where I’ve been /
until the starvation caught me /
tackled me to the earth and I breathed in the musk /
of where we’re 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 he’d 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 ceiling’s /
majestic station /
the ceiling envies /
the floor’s /
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 I’m 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 Man’s 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 didn’t 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.
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