New Old West

Several floors below heaven
a passing train startles Paul awake.

His cotton mouth misspeaks
the planet’s name to a oompah band’s brass.

This unintentional misdirection
opens a seam in the universe to another

where twenty-seven children
wear cardigans and sob at the direction

of an orchestra conductor
lifting a photogenic baton.

Paul wets his face at a hands-free faucet
while portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte

and Thomas Jefferson eye each other
from adjacent sides of the mirror.

Paul notices his doll-skin pallor.
He thinks this a clue to contact his therapist.

But is afraid to interrupt happy hour
half way around the globe.

As he towels water off his face
a gunmetal quote appears on the mirror’s surface

as a cloud wishing thunder
not Smith & Wesson shots fired in a hold up

of the morning train’s mail car
as it clickity-clacks out of Dodge City, Kansas.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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