False Papers and the Vanity of Travel | Dale Houstman

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Our least intimate madness less evident than the quickest turn of carpentry
or a furtive wager on the flight of birds.
A secreted sign over those accidents speculating on departures or the return.
The old world knew.
Detective, under-secretary, resentful servant: all the same man,
and less mysterious than a train window,
even in the deepest snowfall.
Yet we own all those mornings needed to regret all those evenings,
while hasty cogitations are the most superficially beneficent
to the craft of abandonment, the unnailing art
as extravagant salaries defeat the amusements of children
turning all to a politics, and a withering salary for fun.
By wind or watch or wallow, chance betrays opportunity,
and all this in the narrow gulfs, although we have heard
she is the very finest hospital ship.
So drop in at the River Palace, and learn to crawl
along its dark deck to the tragedian’s “secret” grotto:
admiration of delusions suffice as gratuity,
and the drinks seem free, fostering
dreams of railway porters, cowboy investors, showgirls
most desired for their Oldsmobiles.
Put it all down to a cocktail of sea air and coal gas.
Toward noon, we approach a spasm of pus-yellow hills,
the small lawyer shacks halfway up the slopes.
We lift from the water toward the High Terminus,
sails and rudders and dining cars and jets vibrate together,
but the ascension falls short of aerodynamic sincerity
even as one is impressed by the exterior cling hitches
holding charm starved churches (empty), libraries (empty),
and those small aluminum fortresses (not as empty).
One more dose of distant data
and the entire pot of coffee sours. Oh well...
No easy access 
to the obscurer pagoda platforms of Idaho,
and we cannot remake the bald circumferences
into a national residence for eagles.
The remaining viaducts inspire tepid conversation.
Photos of the viaducts are exchanged in the club cars.
There are red ponies seen through the windows
from the outside.
And a small clutch of worshippers
abandoning the coast
to terrapins.
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