Death Along the Jersey Rails

by Robert Salley

Nobody falls in love near train tracks

It's dark... where animals go to die

and teenagers go to fuck awkwardly

in the middle of the night.


Trees decompose more rapidly

surrounded by gaunt bushes and

naked to eyes on billboards

selling real estate and promoting radio stations.


They're doused in cigarette butts and used condoms

like old discarded snake skin

dry and coarse after the bite

immortally tortured by broken glass bottles.


Tattered with wayfarers walking along these rails

footprints planted long before the rust settled in

carrying their faded images of a childhood

and mother's arms that could hide a shameful memory.


Filthy windows show an infomercial
of defeated towns racing by
with chain-link fences and taverns
keeping the locals from escaping.

Their heads angled with regrets

of wasted time they let slip away

and the wasted encounters with saviors

somewhere between New York and Trenton.