Blues #2: How Long*

The opening bars are a screech of freight cars
bumping and grinding along a twisting staff
of lines strung out in miles of train yards and grave yards
wires of angled steel sneaking in behind the warehouses
and factories lined up along the backside of the city
[How long]
I worked those lost factory floors
seen the chicken wire light streaming in
rubbing the backs of slow muscled machines
men on the ground like balloon handlers
working in solemn repetitive awe
[baby how long]
a round of beers and burnt bagels for breakfast
smiling Jack with the alcoholic
nose wondering
[has that evening train been gone?]
burned flannel smell mixed with oil and acetone
“got a smoke?”
[How long]
New York was moving under my feet
winter was coming down the Thruway in slow motion
I kept a copy of Aristotle’s Poetics in the paint spray booth
where it sat like a waiting commuter train of the future
[how how long]

The final bars are questions
each one more complicated and joking:
this is what I will show
this you will never know
[Baby how long?]

*How Long Blues, Traditional

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