Final

1.
A train leaves New York City

traveling west to Chicago

Another train leaves Chicago
traveling east to New York City
at the same time

Two trains leave Dallas
one for Chicago and one for New York
at the same time those other trains
leave their cities of origin

One person on each train is fleeing
someone else’s fists

At some point
each will look out a window and
exhale

Given identical average speeds for each train
how long will it take each of those four people
to transition into the feeling that they
have gone far enough

to call themselves
completely safe

2.
One Johnny
steals three apples
A different Johnny doesn’t

The police pull over Johnny the Latter
for looking (to them) enough like Johnny the Former
for government work

Someone gets hurt

Given the mental picture
you’ve made based on those facts
who are you

3.
If one demagogue 
defines a subset
how does the addition of a second demagogue

change the equation

You protest
Say that’s nothing we studied

You say you didn’t know any of these things
would be on the test

For bonus points
prove it

4.
No pilot 
bombs a village
but the village is bombed anyway

Taking into account all the variables
plot the arc of blame
Show your work

You say this isn’t fair

For bonus points
fix it

5.
If a train leaves New York City half empty

and travels away from there
at an average speed of 50 mph
stopping every 200 miles or so
to drop off and pick up passengers
but there is no net gain or loss
so the train remains half empty

and casual conversations barely arise among strangers
as everyone’s 
staring
at their phones or 
out the windows
alternately marveling 
and mumbling about the sights

and a second train does the same
and a third and a fourth

until there are one hundred trains 
all engaged in the same shuttle and shuffle
of mysterious Americans

back and forth across this landscape
and all the passengers have grown weary
of these terrible American mathematics 

Given all that 
at what point will it stop being flight
and become fight

At what point do you call it 
no longer an adventure
but a job

You say you’ll never use any of this in real life and
dammit
this won’t help you get by

I’m sorry
No extra credit is available on this question

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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