old railroad Roosters and Train Whistles
James Cervantes

Somehow, they've always been there
in the dark when I wake up
anywhere, despite absence of track,
though most naturally in the island city

in Iowa's ocean of farmland; Flagstaff,
where tracks parallel the main drag
and thin air dampens flutter and cluck;
in childhood, where they were like right

and left hands clapping me awake,
uncle's chickens and the Southern Pacific
crowing together; Brattleboro,
where roosters woke as the whistle neared

and I knew I'd make the station on time.
And now, two blocks from the Hudson River,
the hoot of a freight cuts like a French horn
through traffic's tremolo and a rooster

struts from the dark into its missing voice.

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