Saturday, March 7, 2020


The Lights of Town

steel rails lit by moonlight
along the serpentine path,
the backside of society
and dissidence of distant lights
that flicker a warning—decency!
—death sentence!
the silent drums of patriotism

gravel sings a lullaby underfoot
then lo, the faintest scent of smoke
illumination of hidden fires
down in the brush, in a hollow

hunched figures of shadowdark
faintly visible from the moonlit rails

further ahead, a white house sits abandoned
at an Edward Hopper junction, shuttered
against the night,
paint chipped and flaking away,
the edge of town further along
the transient fires in the hollow,
stars above, hell below
nothing behind—desolation

one lesson you learn on such a journey
is that there is no heaven in this life
or in any other—just soup kitchen rhetoric
to lure in apostles and starving sheep,
but if you stand, listen, wait…
sometimes a lonesome whistle will call
in your mind, if not your ears

this distant call leads elsewhere,
down embankments, through the brush,
incandescence is my meager lord
and I join the rabble by the fire,
curled horns of mountain goats
sprouting out of knit hats and hoods,
no sheep or flock are we,
these are songs of ascension,
these are prayers of warmth,
this is the remains of rebellion
that will never die
no matter how many tyrants come
and go,
and it is here I remain
without so much I once knew,
far, far from the lights of town
and all they once stood for

--James H Duncan

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of Feral Kingdom, Vacancy, and We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, among other books. For more, visit

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