Normal

In the town of Normal
it is all facades.
There is much of what "should be"
and little of what is.
They are very busy there.
Terribly busy.
Always an affront if I visit
unoccupied.
Facade faces in facade windows,
with a ready word
for every traveller's need.

Each day I commute through Normal.
I ride the express train
that hurtles on its tracks.
At the stations, people don't get on;
they try to hold on,
to stop the train,
maybe grab an arm and leg
and pull you off.
That it runs at all, that train,
is its implacable, fury force of locomotion.
No station facade can hold it back.
It charges through, heedless, a holy terror,
an unborn child of speed
in every pregnant moment.

Sometimes, a person gets on.
They stare in wide-eyed, deepening wonder
at the scenes that pass us by.
The hinterlands, the back-country:
there's nothing like it in Normal.
So they sit amazed,
they gasp and cry.
And I do the same,
to welcome them.