3 a.m. Wood River Nebraska
The car’s idling behind the crossing arm,
the radio off so I can hear the music,
steel wheels on steel track,
keeping a rhythm as I bob my head,
drum the steering wheel.
There are no other cars behind me,
no lights in my mirror,
no headlights from the other side of the tracks
strobing between the coal cars clacking by,
hauling the black money of dinosaur bones
extracted from a hole in the Wyoming prairie.
I imagine unknown Picassos
painting boxcars with spray cans in a train yard in Cheyenne,
having no time to plan their work,
labeled as graffitti and vandalism,
art that’s gotta be right the first time, no time for editing,
keeping one eye on the iron canvas, one eye open for the heat.
I imagine the artist, his smile saved for when he gets home,
sitting with a roach and a beer and a thumping heart
at a table that wobbles on rippled linoleum
in his trailer’s kitchen
where the sink’s been full of dirty dishes for two days,
his clothes spattered with speckles of paint
like the stars in the sky above one more coal train
rumbling through another town where everyone is asleep
but the dogs roaming the streets.