Locomotive Breath

There’s no solace in knowing it has always been so —
the angry mob, the fist and the fury —
knowing doesn’t help at all.

Today I took an online test
to see what mathematics I might recall
from decades of long ago learning,

word problems concerning trains and speed
and distance, angles of intersecting lines
and percentages and ratios.

And I failed and was not surprised
by my failure.

I knew all that, once, how to calculate
across time and space, the train of the fist
and the rails of the fury, and knowing
helped not at all,

the train it won’t stop going,
no way to slow down.