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There is a Later Train

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This isn't the last train. But the late train

has no quiet cars. If a baby squalls no conductor

shushes her. You must shush her yourself.

The late train has no dining car. So board


this train now, or pack a picnic, your own

tablecloth, napkins, napkin-rings, silver,

porcelain. The late train has no schedule.

Depends on how many girlfriends the brakeman


wants to visit, how fast each girlfriend

forgives him, how long each visit lasts.

This is the last express train. The late train

switches engines at each depot, refuels


at every coal yard, stops to grease axels

before each switch. Sometimes it just stops.

The conductor on the late train is corrupt

and will demand a bribe, a surcharge, a handling


fee, a remittance. Take extra coins and know

your suitcase will be ransacked for cash.

The late train is segregated. Uphill

rules: Bare heads in odd rows. Hatted


or scarved people in even rows.

Oldies left of aisle, youngsters

to the right. Women in window

seats. Men in aisle seats. Citizens


in the front of the car. Immigrants at the back.

Down-slope, it's all reversed. Hooligan

conductors will evict anyone

in the wrong spot. Not evict from seat,


evict from train. Is this train going to heaven?

Yes. Is the late train going to heaven?

Yes. It's simpler to say "All aboard.

This is the last train." The evangelists'


workbook has pictures of people stranded

on the platform. The word nuance does not appear

in the evangelists' workbook. I am writing a new

version of the book. It's much longer.


New chapters, footnotes, caveats, disclaimers,

counterclaims, exceptions, cross-references.

No absolutes. No strict dichotomies.

Still, you should get on the train.


Paul Jolly from Why Ice Cream Trucks Play Christmas Songs


◄ It's a Miracle, I Tell You

Poem 64 of "Because of This" ►


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