Railroad Dreams
The hobo, misunderstood,
believes in hard work
more than people know.
He’s laughed and cried.
Takes great pride, afterwards,
in any job well done. 
But when he finds himself 
due to circumstances 
needing to leave  
to make it from here
to there on the yellowed map 
unfolded in his mind 
he weighs all 
the old employment options:
good, bad, unqualified.
It’s a dance 
he’s choreographed time 
and again 
as a cold freight train speeding 
the new direction he was hoping to go 
rocks him to sleep.




He gets a good look 
at himself in 
the thrift store window.
Their display 
of mismatched furniture
in various hues
of worn velour
and cracked leather
beyond the glass
is no doubt older 
than him and worth more 
to the right customer. 
Somebody somewhere, 
he prays, knows what it takes 
to repair the past.
In every sense of the word, 
he’s ready to be found
Made new again somehow. 
The child’s bicycle
missing its front wheel
he doesn’t even see.




Stranger Days
He always remembered towns
where the barber went about his business 
without a lot of friendly conversation.
He preferred places with just two or three chairs. 
Fewer mirrors. And ending with hot lather 
and a straight razor shave of his neck.
When that was done he walked down unfamiliar streets 
nodding at local folks he didn’t know
feeling like a new man.


Brian Beatty is the author of the poetry collections Borrowed Trouble, Dust and Stars: Miniatures (Cholla Needles Press, 2019 and 2018), Brazil, Indiana: A Folk Poem (Kelsay Books, 2017) and Coyotes I Couldn’t See (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). His poems and stories have appeared in numerous print and digital publications, including The American Journal of Poetry, The Bark, Conduit, CutBank, Dark Mountain, 8 Poems, elimae, The Evergreen Review, Exquisite Corpse, Forklift Ohio, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Hummingbird, McSweeney’s, Midwestern Gothic, The Moth, the museum of americana, NOON, Phoebe, Poetry City USA, The Quarterly, Seventeen, Southern Poetry Review and Two Hawks Quarterly, among others.