There Are People in the World

There Are People in the World

There are people in the world, I’m sure of that,
seen with their comings and goings, umbrellas,
rain-coats decorated with loose buttons
and the long belt that loses its way out of one loop,
nearly dragging on the ground. These people I know,
appearing in the long shot of a movie—exterior, train station, doors
opening and closing with magnetic pull. They’re standing
clear, sidestepping the train’s brutal electricity
and its indigo machinery.
There are machines too,
I’m sure of that, inventions clean and useful—gears,
trapezoids, unfathomable windmills in far away places,
put there by men’s curious hands, the systems
hatched from brains piquant and bloody. The train’s careful maze
of nerve endings, synapses, breaks and rotors,
tendons of its apparatus.

In briefcases and tailored purses, the people
and their inventions mold this dingy world. They carry
metal philosophies, jagged pieces of technology—gadgets,
watches, cell phones, doodads to tinker and tryout,
music and messages packed into files, accessible, tremulous.
The shoelace keeping the shoe in place, the shoe that eases
the foot down onto the heavy pavement.

Which do I prefer? The categories of people sandwiched
into their compartments, or their progress
that makes the train, the clock, the rails,
the beams and sinuous bricks bellow
in synchronicity—the track or the engineer,
the raincoat or the seamstress, the ticket, or conductor
punching my ticket, selling the fare, his face sandblasted,
chiseled, aching to tell me its ingenuity.

This poem appears in Four Blue Eggs. You can still save 20% for National Poetry Month if you order now!


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