In Praise of Gears and Caterpillar Trains

by Kyle Hemmings

She makes love to a not-quite-cripple in the cab of a ballast tractor or in the backseat of an abandoned Kaiser jeep. He tells her he can hear stray dogs on the moon whining to come home. Or how he remains sleepless dreaming about the arm bursting into fragments over a tiny village no longer on any map of Asia.

When her eyes drift off, when she is too tired and empty handed to be impolite, he tells her how a bevel gear can be used for the sun and an anular one as the planet.

Differentials are not hard to understand he says. She presses a finger to his lips and says “enough.” She loves men who are good with hands and grease. and phantom whippletrees. And he is so obsessed with the passing of time, his heart could be a sundial. He could go on about the old Southern Pacific 4294, but he senses her body mechanics shifting into neutral.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest book is Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys at He blogs at