“West” by James Goss

A four-engine train

engines idling diesel

beside the iron fence mist

herds of penned-in cattle

earthen clouds settling low

a rider crooning Huddie Ledbetter

Goodnight Irene.

His thoughts were refuge from the stillness

anxious to fly far over

the rangeland and the chaparral

across creeks and rivers nourishing

the vague sorrow of spring.

Instead, he sat rooted

downhearted, floating

sipping coffee black

the yellow and purple

pastry torn in bits


He asked the cook

and explained that just yesterday

he’d become a father

to a blue Doberman

and what did he think

of the name “Sky.”

“For chrissake…that has got to be

the most beat-up-old-hippie-type name.”

(Sky was the name of a kid

at his school–always lost 

and on the outs with the law).

“That’s the way to live,” he thought,

“on the edge. Not the trailing edge–

not the leading edge either. Those 

people are as dead as young martyrs.”

James P. Goss is a writer, actor and musician, author of Pop Culture Florida and the Vinyl Lives series about record stores and collectors. Goss’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blue Moon, Vita Brevis, Synchronized Chaos, October Hill, and others. He lives in South Florida with his family.

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