“Trains Across the Sea”


Photo taken in Bordeaux, France, in fall 2007. –by Justin Leverett

A friend caught me by surprise, hugged me,
and handed me “The Wasteland,”
a parting gift, then said farewell.

This barely registered. I was dazed, addled.
The German girl beside me on the train platform
made small talk in French, words like
falling leaves. I thought numbly of scarves and Venetian blinds.

Buildings flee on either side of me, familiar
but foreign, framed by the sun. I have a vague
idea of what lies before, and behind.

The German girl took the same train. “I will be
home soon,” she smiled. “Studies went well, yes, the
language came by necessity. Which car is yours?”
I showed her my ticket, but words wouldn’t come.

Is it regret I feel, or satisfaction?
Who sets the standard? Am I fit to judge?
Did the day only start when I opened the blinds?
Worlds away, and only hours gone by.

The German girl noticed my preoccupation.
I smiled mutely, my eyes apologized.
She handed back my ticket and stepped onto the train.
Alone again, I board, we whistle, we part.

I will be midflight in 48 hours, Paris below.
At midnight, 14 hours ago, I unlocked the gate,
crept past the nuns’ window,
and drunkenly ended an era.
But in this instant, I was flipping pages of
English words I didn’t understand,
and thinking, out my window,
that everything was nothing, the countryside burned,
blue haze in its place.
Scarf flipping in the wind
a train across the sea.

“Some Kinda Love”


Photo taken in Angers, France, in fall 2007. -by Justin Leverett.

My love is a naive love
Cute, cuddly, and cruel
That melts wings made of wax.
But that I can’t
Though fleeting glances on the sidewalk
and offhanded discussions
leave it naked
Playing shadow puppets, from afar.

For hope is tied up with fear
And I fear I can’t stop

Easy enough to watch the clock tick
Or catch up with your brother
Sleep outdoors
Or a nap with a book, in the sunshine

But fear is tied up with hope
And I hope I can stop
being afraid.

Frozen, frightened
inexplicable paralysis
Recurs in thought and action
When put in perspective
Shouldn’t mean as much as it does
But does
And is in spite of me
Deep, foundational
Resistant to will and

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