by Matthew Gilbert

Keys jingling in the candy bowl
knocked over by a bad luck cat—
I put them there last night. Too many
drinks after that fifth shot of overtime,
I remember I also misplaced myself.

In the subway, I sum up steps
taken from street to turnstile
so maybe I’ll find my way back
despite the locked-in mechanism
of a single-use ticket.

Masses of disregarded ghosts crowd
the bullet train. I weigh their worth.
But stop-changing means infinity
when bodies don’t belong,
and names mean cost efficiency.

And funerals mean personal days
we can’t afford because living
is out of our spending range.
I eye a figure fingering coins
in his hollowed hand.

At the transfer platform,
I contemplate deferring the train,
wonder how far a ten would get me.
I recognize a friend, his casual stride down
the stairway. He throws up a hand.

Six past years and still those poker
nights losing, small-living-room-laughter,
made betting worthwhile. All chips in,
I have forgotten how to wager
anything but my own body.

Over the intercom, a man announces last call.
When the train arrives, we all pack inside.
I wonder what kind of people live on Third.
The railways screech their daily motions.
I am still waiting to miss that train.

PAINTING: Paris Metro by Chronis Botsoglou.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Growing up, words and ideas never came easy to me. I found meaning-making difficult, and often I missed the point of reading. It wasn’t until I discovered music that the melody of language helped me to make connections I had missed as a child. Music became poetry, then prose, and I haven’t been able to stop writing since. Writing is always seeking and discovering the world around us.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matthew Gilbert is a co-founder and poetry editor of Black Moon Magazine. He reads for Orison Books and serves as a poetry editor at Great Lakes Review. He also edits the newsletter for Poetry Society of Tennessee—Northeast Chapter. He enjoys writing that crackles and burns with emotion, works that push the boundaries between writing and lived experience—works where language and form celebrate the reader. His work appears in Delta Poetry Review, Eunoia Review, Jimsonweed, Mildred Haun Review, and Across the Margin, among others, and is forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol IX: Virginia. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.