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Adonis At the Throttle


ISSUE:  Spring 1991
The light on the track
turned out to be Venus,
low on the horizon and bright
as a headbeam,
so much like an oncoming train
the engineer roaring toward it
braked and backed up half-a-mile,
sounding his whistle all the way.
Of course, he never lived it down—
star struck, they called him, Buck Rogers,
the only man on the line to yield to a planet.
Before he quit, his crewmen
gave him a telescope and a cap
inscribed “Railway to Heaven.”
When he left, he gave them all the finger
and went off thinking he would
take monastic orders or become a drunk.
Finally, he did both, which seemed right
in a world where far is near
and high is low,
and spent the next twenty years
saying his goddamned prayers
at vespers with a missal handy,
and a quart of burgundy,
and an eye on the evening star.

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