Living is difficult. And even then,
I am a kind of Charon trafficking
them across the slough.

In moonlight, in swelter, in rain
I cram them into my metal craft.
Their teeth glimmer with doubt.

I can neither appease their nerves
nor guarantee safe passage.
Each places a coin inside my hand;

I eclipse their fingerprints with my own.
When the patrols come,
my assistants cast them

overboard unto their fate;
I cannot risk feelings of remorse—
the waters gamble with us.

An occasional owl's
self-preening voice
snags on the planets, fit enough

to withstand the human litter
like sloughed armor,
my hand at the rudder.

This poem appeared in the February 12, 2007 issue of the magazine.