Glen Armstrong


It�s too easy to let the helium-
filled balloon get away

and too difficult for the child
to say, �That was mine,

and now it�s gone.� She knows too much
as the sky dissolves

the string and then the red.
She is too old to cry and maybe

too young to have desired
the novelty of being

one of the few girls at the fair
with a balloon,

too young to have invested so much
in that gentle tug,

the promising, threatening force that might
lift her body skyward.

Trains at Impossible Angles

East and west of everything
but himself, the passenger
can only sleep

or imagine things
as they may have been:
Detroit shovels coal

through the night
only to stay warm enough
to shovel coal again

when the church bells ring.
Tomorrow trapped in a yesterday.
Chicago has locked

its apartment doors
and unbuckled its icy shoes.
The rest of the world

waits for the quiet
return of something that never was.
It�s impossible

to know,
       as the snow

starts to fall,
             and Salvation

Army bands all over
the city call it quits,
what he might

have actually seen
from the window,
             pulling away

Glen Armstrong

GLEN ARMSTRONG holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters.

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