Photography © Glenn Bowie


Mail Train

It looks like a movie set—
An old train. Dark cars rock, endless.
Walnut and glass compartments
holding nothing but reams of blank
paper hungry for your pen. The signs
are French, demanding your letters.

You fold and unfold your old letter—
words in Greek or Russian. You set
your watch to local time, see signs
change languages. You want the ride less
rough. You breathe. The air’s blank
as paper. You test doors on compartments.

The locks are frozen. Your apartment
at home—remember home?—is filling with letters
you want, and bills. The windows here are blank
pages. You open a pen and set
a sheet on glass. The landscape grows less
and less occupied. There are no signs

that anyone loved here. Designs
form from your breath on compartment
windows. You lean, blow until breathless
then use your fingers, forming letters
in a language you can’t see. Set
down your bag. You are a cipher. Blank

as a loss column. The carpet’s rich, blank
white. Deep piled. The car is signed
by someone you know. Someone who set
your heart down in a middle compartment
then leapt off the train. This is her letter
telling you no love is deathless.

One by one, trees slow. There is less
and less velocity. White steam blanks
what little sky you see. The movie set
is falling away like a box full of letters
you mean to answer. They stay unsigned.
Not worried, you slump against a compartment

that slides open. Set your bag on the blank
page. There’s less room than you think. The signs
are French again. Compartments vanish with dead letters.


Mark J. Mitchell has published five collections of poetry and two novels. His most recent is Something to Be from Pski’s Porch.

Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist, musician and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing. He donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters.