Magazine October 14, 2019, Issue

The Third Rail

(Wikimedia Commons )

It intimidates without apparent threat,
not looking live or lethal, rough with rust,
in the Mott Haven freight yard where we played
after school in the chill engulfing dusk.

Playing a kind of blind man’s bluff with death,
we laughed to leap across it with clenched eyes —
immortal in ourselves — tough scraggly kids
testing the fragility of limb and breath.

Still nondescript it waits — assassin, friend —
in dim waste places where we least expect
to die: the demon rail of the quotidian
no one can touch or recognize again.

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