Changes to Your Itinerary May Affect Your Fate – HONORABLE MENTION

My ticket doesn’t really say that.  My ticket says “fare,” not “fate”

and the ticket doesn’t actually say anything; I’ve misread


the ticket, which isn’t even a ticket any more,

it’s a barcode, or in this case, four pages of wasted ink


on wasted wood pulp flattened and chemically bleached

into blinding white rolls and paper sheets at the peril of our drinking water


outlining precisely how few legal rights I retain

specific to my journey by rail between Washington D.C. and New York, NY


today, November 12, 2016, a changeable day,

that started fogged in, began to burn off over the Susquehanna River


where the train seems to take sudden flight high above the water’s shine

(once represented by aluminum foil between banks of green-dyed dough


in my 4th grade geography project, “Colonial Waterways”: B+, Try to be Neater)

as we cross a high trestle over a river that didn’t go to India


and two of these ticket pages are filled with fat chunks of language

footnoted by stars, double stars and crosses, outlining rules


for baggage, our considerable baggage, for what we each carry with us,

jam into overhead compartments or leave clogging the aisles,


which of course doesn’t include what we drag behind us

heavy and as freighted with the past as white cotton collecting bags


dragged through long rows; rule after rule specific to possessions

but nothing about fate, those three goddesses


who spin, measure, cut the length of a life to an end

and I consider how switching trains could throw off the game,


I could head west on the Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh

where the brass plaque at the confluence of the Ohio River


says Fort Pitt’s capture from the French and Indians

established Anglo-Saxon supremacy in the United States,


and even though that sign doesn’t really say anything,

it’s hard to misread Anglo-Saxon Supremacy


no matter which direction you go, none of which is touched upon

in the fine print contained by this sheaf of papers


masquerading as a ticket which again has nothing to do with fate—

(ask Oedipus, Iphigenia, or the two men who survived the collapse


of the World Trade Center towers to die in the Staten Island Ferry crash,

ask them about fate) — I just read it that way, because I’m stupidly


hopeful for answers, and I could have misread

“fare” as “fade” or “fame” or “face” or “hate”


because Changes to Your Itinerary May Affect Your Face

is also true, as is Changes to Your Itinerary May Affect Your Fame,


and Changes to Your Itinerary May Affect Your Hate

which is screaming from the newspapers today and now


the lawyers in my head look back from their plushy business seats

and point out the statement makes no guarantees,


read or misread, implied or specific, and by the way,

they say, all the business is packed tight


(with maybe and possibly and the power of might)

in the smart snappy briefcase of may.


Hayden Saunier is the author of Tips for Domestic Travel (Black Lawrence Press: 2009) Say Luck (Writers & Books: 2013), and a chapbook, “Field Trip to the Underworld” (Seven Kitchens Press: 2014) She has been published in a wide variety of journals including 5 a.m., Bellevue Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Smartish Pace, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Tar River Poetry. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, the Rattle Poetry Prize, Gell Poetry Award and the Robert Fraser Award. (


Tips for Domestic Travel and Say Luck are both available from your local bookstore or through Field Trip to the Underworld is available through Seven Kitchens Press.