Gold plated mementoes
embossed with service
of a lifetime.
Marking passage
as coal fed leviathans
snake transcontinental lines.
Status symbols
become a museum piece,
anachronistic Mercury dimes.
Tucked in vest pockets
winding down in nervous ticks.
While wheels ride rails
spitting sparks, clicking clicks.
Metronomes for Conductors,
their orchestra of punches
and torn tickets
calling out station stops.
Daily ballet in center aisles
Pullman Porters lugging luggage
bowing and scraping
for man, woman, and child.
Yes sir, yes M’am
mile after mile.
Press that button,
release that tension,
and the cover springs.
“What time is it?”
Patience sought in that
two-handed face.
“How much longer
am I gonna have to
take this shit?”
South of Mason Dixon
as the Jim Crow flies,
segregated bathrooms reappear
right before our eyes.
Running out of excuses
for a plethora of lies.

M. Zane McClellan

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