Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

After Graffiti, Northside Carbondale


I’d like to say: the grief is gone and there’s room for more.
But the loud knock of railway coupling
opens starlight over this small Midwestern town
where shiny black railroad tracks bore through me,
grappling and collapsing under a question:
what pearls did the stranger give you? Your face,
a gloomy love note. The word timing heavy in my ear;
the weight of never. A common nightmare. This is
some day I’ll love myself. See the breaks in the leaves.
Here, where the buds are green and regrets’ blossom is cotton white,
hope will get you in trouble. What fades into the long quiet
is sunlight becoming therapy. I wonder,
meanwhile the crack between what if and letting go heals,
scarves of snow blow down ruts in the freight yard.
From where I sit, through a cracked window,
a salty breeze moves inward, once, then once more.
The scent of wet barley and gravel carries me
to Illinois in October, a fondness there,
a teenaged needling, until sad words chisel through,
What do you want from me? What I need
to be back on the rails again, painting my name on rusty metal;
rodent bones crackling beneath my shoes. In exchange
for a still-wet stamp on a grainer, aerosol fumes rising
through elm, ash, and sycamore. My hoodie up,
burning leaves trapped in the fabric, where you are with me.
Fingers paint-stained harbor blue.
As I step from the train yard, a horn blasts in the North.
I’m afraid of being nobody. I want the clouds to know my name.

Bryce Berkowitz‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, The Sewanee Review, Ninth Letter, Third Coast, Nashville Review, Salt Hill, the minnesota review, and other publications. In August 2019, he will begin teaching at Butler University. Find him online here.