I sit with a man on a train
who says he can describe the taste of milk.
Seems easy enough.
We’ve each had three glasses of wine.  
The sun is crashing behind the horizon.
I’m eating a chicken sandwich
look up and say, ‘What about chicken,
describe that taste to me.’ 
He orders another glass of sauvignon blanc.
I order a chardonnay unoaked from Monterey.
We aren’t really friends just two people
who’ve met on a train.
‘Cold,’ he says, ‘with a soft sweetness,
not exactly sweet, but close.’
‘Chicken?’ I ask. ‘No,’ he says.
‘If it’s whole it would be heavier
on the tongue,
not syrup more like the texture
of green tea thickened with honey.’
We’ve been on the train for eight hours.
The next stop is Penn Station.
I’ll be leaving this closed space
where wine is plentiful; chicken
sandwiches are served on white toast
and potato chips have the salt
I craved before sodium chloride
became politically incorrect,
but milk: I didn’t order it,
I couldn’t imagine a glass of it,
how it would deflate
the fat balloon my head is floating in.



Marc Swan’s poems have been recently published in Scrivener Creative Review, Passager, Crannóg, Gargoyle, Gravel, Sheila-na-gig, Coal City Review, among others. His third collection, Simple Distraction, was published by Tall-Lighthouse, London, England in 2009. He lives with his wife Dd in Portland Maine.