Mark Reep is an artist and writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Art Collector, Endicott Journal, Metazen, cur.ren.cy, A-Minor, Right Hand Pointing, Blue Fifth Review, Prick of the Spindle, Moon Milk Review, Camel Saloon, Big City Lit, Fictionaut Selects, and Word Riot’s 10th Anniversary Anthology. He is the former editor of Ramshackle Review, and is represented by West End Gallery, Corning, New York; and Jardine Gallery, Perth, Scotland. Visit his website and blog.
by Mark Reep
Though she answers his deferential knock
in a bloodstained peignoir, torn stockings,
the conductor remains impassive .
Next stop’s the border, miss, he says.
You’ll be wantin’ your papers ready.
He does not ask after you but looks
her up and down now as in deliberate
extraction of unspoken payment.
Her smile like fortune’s cannot be coerced
but she opens her peignoir. He stares
at the sullen bullethole between her breasts,
dark blood welling with each heartbeat.
Does he bow slightly, turn away whole?
You suppose not. She closes the door.
Diner on dust, she says, do ye thirst yet?
Scratching lightly at your eyes
she laughs to find you already unblinking.
Were all her cruelties so charming, unstudied?
She smiles down at you from years gone,
the small far end of a telescope:
I had too much coffee, she says. Her piss
is cold, washes parts of you away.
She waves, Bye-bye! Gestures:
A convenient floordrain yawns.
If you could you’d say you’re sorry
but you’re tumbling through rusty grates
into darkness, a storm of cinders,
thunder of a thousand wheels.
In the next scene police and bloodhounds
converge on echoes of unresolved narrative
but no one finds you nor will ever.
In the dining car the conductor sits drooling
from the corner of his mouth. Is there
a doctor on the train? Other passengers
agree on little save she was lovely and you
seemed a prick. Her hair was so fine,
a girl says wistfully. When she brushed it,
static crackled. One of her companions
giggles. Then they all do.
An old man waiting his turn to say
he knows nothing either imagines himself
in a red Aston Martin speeding along
a winding mountain road. He rolls down
the window, splays fingers to the wind,
wonders if he remembers, or only dreams.