There are no horses

by Charles Lauder Jr

                                              only stations
and the rails uncoiled between them
like a leviathan’s tentacles
slithering past your ankles
through dimly lit city streets.
Are there storefronts, houses, cars
beyond these circles of light?
All that can be mapped is where
you need to be tomorrow—Mum’s,
Los Angeles, up and across the mountains,
then down into France—like finding your way
out of a maze, except left-turns-only
does not work.
                                             This station
and the next one you must get to
are spots beside the rails.
Others are from the Old West,
hacienda-style with terracotta tile roofs,
interiors lined in Victorian green,
platforms reached by ramp and turnstile
where lovers slip the hand
                                         and slip the mind.
You double-back for a dropped scarf
while she hurries ahead to secure seats.
By the time you get back, it’s gone:
a faded, scratched-up tram no one rides
unless they have to.
                                              But tonight
it’s a Chinese steam train,
red star on a giant green funnel,
the fuming snout of a clamorous beast
rising out of the earth. Climbing aboard,
you are a passenger, never the driver.