Come After Me
Once the train has gone on west to Phoenix overnight
and we’re waiting by the rail station doors,
the only moving thing’s a hummingbird
circling the firecracker bush, lucky bird,
nectar dreams answered at the crack of dawn
by a sudden desert bloom. Then a half-block down
a neon joint goes dark, losers and winners file out
surprised by the pale light, and the foreman’s truck horn
sounds: today is Sunday, Monday starts the job.
Seek and ye shall find, says Manny, after shift’s end:
we’re reaching across the backs of lonely men,
blood rising behind the alcohol, in truth,
none of us is slow to pay for low-toned laughter
from the women drinking house whiskey watered down
by half, holding our own cold bottle against a temple
in the heat, shouting into the tumbling noise,
flies buzzing under the smoke,
and between the fights tin speakers
pouring sugar on the blues, nothing to lose,
where can we go, I don’t know,
little lights in unfamiliar eyes, little lies.
Some nights I stand in there until I cannot breathe,
tell myself I’m free, push on out to the glassy parking lot
where Manny sleeps it off in the truck
and Slim bends double, hands on knees,
to pant and pray while coyotes in the yard
across the street tick and growl between the boxcars,
and there I go, stumbling in my steel-toed
northern boots, the sun already coming up.
Jesus, four a.m.—
But didn’t she come after me, and there we go,
convincing ourselves, I don’t know, leaning on the car door,
dark and heat rising like oil on the back of the stove,
washed in sweat and liquor and the belly-sound
of rolling diesels downshifting on I-10.
I know in another month she’ll be dancing again,
because no wrapped-in-Jesus words can turn our lust
to something else, no job lasts forever,
the desert’s pretty when it rains but it won’t last long,
and the last sound that we hear in the night,
when she and I are done with love and cooling in the early light,
is the blue-black note of the last coyote’s song.
Peter Boisvert is a poet and software developer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a recent graduate of Pacific University's MFA program.