Flattened penny souvenirs

The phantom train.
The drunk conductor
who kills himself
and all his passengers.

In the Great Lakes region
of the US and Canada
there are people who claim
they have seen the train
and heard the screams
on foggy nights,
in rural communities.

Folklorists say
the urban legend
inspires from distrust.
This pathos they say
is inevitable to us.

People might tell you
they’re tempted to believe
in the phantom train legend.
They want to believe
the alleged facts-
the narrative elements,
because they believe
the world would permit it.
Even if they doubt
a ghost train is possible.

At the core of the legend,
behind its veil of supernatural lull,
the premise to the ugly wonder,
what causes us to beg its answer
transcends the narrative
in analogues the world over;

One legend, established in Japan,
is a sister legend to the phantom train;
A pilot reverses his engines in flight,
and the plane plummets into the sea.
As in phantom train, the wreck is deliberate.
Hundreds of lives entrust in one hand,
and with the flick of a switch, they all die.
No one sees the killer come.
Death greenlights for a path,
and they follow him to it.

To this day I am reminded
with trinkets, nomads leave behind;
Artifacts of their garbage
souvenir them to my mind.

As I think about
all these ghost towns
along train tracks,
as colorful as wind.

Something unsettled
fossilized before the kill switch.

What it was they did,
what they did not do or
what would not let them,
and why it had mattered
so much to them
I will often wonder,
I’ll never know;
They follow the trains.


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