from

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN TO BUSAN

Caitlin Plunkett

is a queer cinephile living in Chicago. Her poems have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Indiana Review, The Fiddleback, and Poets for Living Waters. If Caitlin could be a Hitchcock film, she'd be a mashup of North by Northwest and The Birds. 

BRUNO

 

I’m not a chump. Not yet. And I’ve got a theory: What keeps you safe isn’t my sylphlike bio suit. It isn’t the compulsory retina-read at the turnstile. The stiffness with which I ferry my mouth to this Scotch & Soda’s lip. Off its leash, my mouth is too much. With the splatter shield raised, my mouth is apt to lie in your lap like carrion. Cover me with starched linen. See how I seep and suffuse. I’ve got a theory. It’s about the containment of language. How my intentions run a line with no beginning. No end.

 

The deer I saw on my way to the station, my feigned shock a drop in time, its severed leg around the bend, then crunching in the rearview mirror. No one was watching.

 

 

SOO-AN

 

My father is a fluorescence fixed on the empty road. “Whatever you do, you must finish what you start,” he says. Whatever you do, you must edify while wearing your clock-punching suit, I think.

 

To soothe myself, I commandeer the power window. “It’s worse than not doing it all,” he says, illuminated red at the traffic light. Up, down, up, up, down. Can I re-platform as a pane of glass? Slip inside this dark horizon?

 

Criss, cross, your loss, the bogies are behind you.

 

Suddenly the air is honeyed heat. Sirens streak by. “What’s happening this early?” my father asks. I open my palm to the sky and collect crisps of falling ash.

THE TRAIN

 

I’m the KTX 101.

 

Streaming eyes on either side.

 

A body tied to tracks. Cartoonish, I know!

 

Hold. Hold, please: I’m counting on you for a fine time.

 

Why, sir, you’ve chosen to eschew your free splatter shield. How marvelous!

 

I admire your dedication to that Chesterfield, but the vestibule is no place for lighting up.

 

Hold. Hold, please: I’m counting on you for compliance.

 

Children, please lower your voices. Congratulations on winning your matches. Tennis doubles, was it?  

 

Young sir! Lady? What are you? Swiftly store your ersatz razor. Pull down the sleeping bunk.

 

Hold. Hold, please: I will shimmy shut the teal curtains.

 

Upon your paunch, ma’am, I spy some mustard. Sadly, the washroom will have to wait until minute twenty-two.

 

Hold. Hold, please: Not a hair before.

 

Passengers seated, passengers in repose, passengers piled into one of our brand new standing columns: Security measures commence!

 

I’m the 101 and together we’re bound for Busan. Do not resist the passenger straps.

 

I’m long limbs astride your — Oh hold! Hold, please.

 

 (Speaking to turnstile gamma. A ticket unaccounted. An outlier.)

 

Hold. Hold, please: Mandatory retina reads at Daejeon Station. Passengers, thank you in advance for your compliance.

 

You have fifteen seconds to kick off your loafers, your flatties, your kitten heel pumps, your winklepickers, your two-toned wingtips.

 

Hold. Hold, please: Foot straps engage.

 

Now, wasn’t that a cinch?