by Crystal Jean Hoffman
for the silent film star, Olive Thomas
Olive is only calm now,
because she doesn’t know
whether they’re coming or going—
These trains, knitted, filled with cattle,
drenched in mercury.
She doesn’t choke because they pass
her by, downtown Pittsburgh and into the west,
where her ancestors never made it—
moon fastened, thrice reflected,
but simply because to love dirty rivers
beneath tremendous rusting bridges
one must learned to despise Venice,
believing nothing better exists.
Stillborn inside of the knowledge that she
wouldn’t last long in France and that husbands
are only good for building disease and these
train cars that feed her, draw her out, and quarter
her at seventeen.
Her stomach grows weaker everyday—
standing on her fire-escape, she cracks
at the way they move at dusk and through
her screen door. She drops her cigarette
though the grates, ready to run and be beautiful
when necessary—She prays to him before she goes
These trains, I can’t sleep or make love.
Eyes welded restless and tongue clipped—
Taste bitter or drown,
here, I would be only a special kind of nothing.