[This isn’t a sestina, but it started life as one. It, as the title suggests, escaped the form.]

Khaled reads a poem in which there is mention of train tracks.
Later, in the evening air, I will imagine the farm land of the mid-west
furrowed and grizzled,
lying on its back, trying on a new pair of pants designed by spring,
zipped up by the empty rails running off to the distance and fading so
fast they turn into a dream.

The question blooms in the fresh air: Whose dream?
In it, a creature we won’t name has left some incriminating tracks.
We fear it will suddenly spring to a realness as dangerous and
nonchalant as a legend out of the old west.
Before the we can gather the nerve to hunt it down, the alarm rings, snaps us back
and forth between cold coffee and a hot breakfast cooling in the distance.

Outside town, long rows of stubble wait to turn to green haze in the cool morning distance.
surrounded by cold concrete too stubborn to move, we’re ready
to spring for that new car, the vacation out west,
eager to follow the wooden wheeled conestoga tracks left by people
desperately trundling after their dark loamed dreams.
But we don’t.
Some sense of responsibility holds us back.

The farmer, meanwhile is out planting the back forty.
Acres of sterile brown soil fan out into the distance.
He lays down herbicides beside the deserted tracks that once carried
passengers and goods through his father’s dreams.
The sun imperceptibly slinks itself out of the stolid mid-west,
wishing, as it does this time every evening, that it could wake up
tomorrow morning on the beach.

There must be some kind of promise to this season.
The smell of thawed soil on the evening’s breath blowing at our backs
would seem to indicate that it’s safe to dream;
safe, for now, to ignore time waiting at the red light in the distance,
safe to be on the other side of the tracks,
dangerously close to that creature edging out of west.


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