red lights alone

by strannikov

red lights alone no deaths abate—


life slammed closed

a sight for intransitive eyes

of neighbors—about thirty-nine—

transfixed or something much akin.


Will and I

tossing baseball two blocks away

when a clanging whack! stopped us still

to hear a metallic squeal slide.


before five

glancing down Academy Street

sloping west to where the tracks crossed

twisted tangled metal on wheels.


we saw smoke:

no dugout, but we stashed our gloves

and the baseball somewhere close by

then west on Academy Street.


west we stalked.

most of the trailer had remained

but shuddered sideways in both lanes,

chassis, engine, cab strewn down tracks.


in its ditch

the rig smoldered black diesel fumes

fire truck and crew hosing to cool

rescue squad approaching the cab.


not to die

would have meant his not being there

extricated, peeled from his shell

the last womb he ever crawled in.


fit to die

mouth gaped red, each nostril each ear

trickled out blood and brain, could not

command the feet not to point down.


the last sight

I saw a white kerchief touched red

a brave, futile attempt once, twice

from which breath no more returned.


soon installed were the crossing gates:

red lights alone no deaths abate.