John Nimmo


Love and the Train

The train has a track maybe love has a track but no
love has anything but a track it goes any which direction
like a random walk a drunken ramble a forced march
ordered by Cupid that maniac Shakespeare never writ
no man ever loved the train is never on time love fails
to even know the time I love my love as love explodes
like spark of steel on rails pinned ever in place
on earth on gravel on rock my love runs circles
as strong as steel wheels that roll the rails go on as far
as you can see a fixed path that never ends my love is loud
as the Baby Bullet roaring past with blare of horn
to tell the children the people the cars the neighbors 
the town the state the land the world the train
is on its track and doing its duty it has a duty.


In the Face of the Lens

Perched on a plastic chair on the last grass,
he holds in his left hand the black body
of his camera, and in his right, the lens—

bulbous and clear as the eye of a whale—
which he intends to clean. Reflected purplish
in optical glass are waves, white sand,

and cliffs with their blossoming sprays
like the ice plant that every April billows pink
down the backyard slope of his parents’ home,

where at this moment they might be
watching TV, or weeding, or knitting, but
for certain they are grieving his brother who died

last fall. He’s not thinking this. Perhaps because
he does not know, next Christmas
at that house in the evening he will hear

Dad, retiring, sigh Oh me as always
but with a quaver hinting there would someday
be a last time he would hear his father sigh

like that, and this might be it.
He does not know there will be a day
when he will lean over the rail of Mom’s bed

and bend close to hear as she makes weak words
from the breath of her failing lungs, and lose
a beat—her breath is exactly the breath

he knew when she fed him and dressed him,
and before. He does not know he is and is not
made of glass. He’s not looking.


I Want an Evening Star—

faint retrospect, a light 
               it’s lost at edge of dark.

I wrote about her dying
               Who can hold the sun?

I wrote about her body,
               Nothing casts a shadow.

I wrote about her elbow,
               Wind, wind deflated.

I wrote what remains
               Twilight, bare and blue.