Model Train

by Frederick Seidel

illustrator Guglielmo Castelli

Issue VIII

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        I.
That’s that sound.
The whirring sound of a profound
Going round and round
And round a central mound.

        II.
It circles the department store’s Christmas tree all day,
Into and out of a tunnel made of papier-mâché.
It’s a passenger train, but something queer,
A freight train caboose brings up the rear.

        III.
Little lights twinkle in the windows of the model train.
They’re neurons firing in a brain.
The brain lights up, stands up,
Sipping hemlock from a stirrup cup.

        IV.
It’s a freight train with a yellow star, 
And has a Michelin yellow-star dining car.
Sleeper compartments under sweeping-searchlight guard towers.
Hissing Zyklon B gas showers. 

        V.
A blinding smile is floating in the corridor outside—
Like the ghost left behind by a suicide—
To shine your shoes and every comfort to provide.
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is the guide.

        VI.
A woman summons a smiling porter—
Come here, George—and tips him a quarter.
It was the custom to call all Pullman porters George
Because of George Pullman. Your real name isn’t George, is it, George?

        VII.
You’re a gorgeous Negro, aren’t you, George?
Your gorge is rising, George, I can see your rising gorge.
George, something is rising.
You find me appetizing.

        VIII.
And he smiles that smile TV dance contestants use
That looks like a boil about to burst. That boil pays his union dues.
The moon is urinating yellow moonlight on Lake Michigan.
It’s time to make a wish again.

        IX.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
I’m is a streak of time.
I’m is a shooting star of wish-fulfilling slime.       

        X.
I wish white linen in the dining car. 
Pretend there are plates of caviar.
Snow furring the freezing air.
The lonely prairie out there.

        XI.
One sticks it in the other.
One is probably a mother.
They rock back and forth trying to get out of the skin they’re in, trying
To get out of the boxcar of sighing, and screaming, and dying.       

        XII.
George’s dick is as big as a dogfight.
It cuts through her fog like a fog light.
They’re the South and the Abolitionist North
Ecstatically flapping back and forth.

        XIII.
The Pullman porter is the nascent Negro middle class.
Now he sticks it in her ass.
Now he’s stepping on the gas.
Who would have thought that this would come to pass?

        XIV.
Negroes and their leaders led the way
Down the sleeping car corridor to a brighter American day.
A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters used to say
To the members: Work will make you free when you get decent pay.

        XV.
In God’s department store at Christmastime are many choo-choos.
Chuff-chuffing to their death are many Jew-Jews.
And then there are the Hutus,
And Tutsis vastly murdering them, producing Hutu boo hoos.

        XVI.
Jews arriving at the camp by train
Are each a snowdrop underneath a brain.
Ecstatically flapping back and forth,
They breathe the gas and leave the earth.

 

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