Sophia Holtz

Prayer for the Mechanized God




The god of the train is not the commuter-bodies

who pack themselves into cars each rush hour.

The god of the train is the ghost of tired shoes,

and lives inside light particles, the rivers we cross,

and most of all the tracks we ride. Most do not know the god exists,

but we leave him offerings anyway: bottles and newspapers,

illegal radios, graffiti scratch and spray— all of this is his scripture.


Some people don’t leave the temple for days.

(But nobody calls the train a temple. It’s too dirty.)


The god’s holy words are rail by rail.

The god’s holy word is rumble.

He is electric and deadly. The third rail

we never look at in the face

because we see our own death potential.


We hate the god’s whim, and drunkenness

how he is late for everything. We hate the dirt

the rats and roaches, piss and grease,

the disease in his breath, which is really our own breath.


We ride the tunnels we built for the god and we are not afraid.

Though we are already faster than our blood

gives us permission to be, we’re still not fast enough.


The god of the train is the come home late,

is the come down. We do not look at each other’s eyes

in his presence. We pretend we are only ordinary.

The god of the train carries us over the broken tiles,

into the end of the night. We cross rivers and watch reflections

of streetlights, false stars, in the city-water. Messiahs of nothing.

Messiahs we built and whose wonder we forgot once we became used to it.


The god of the train does not belong to any of us but we pretend.

We live inside the rumble, the shake and screech. We go and forget

time in all his noise. Haven’t we always been inside the train?

Haven’t we always been metal like you, oh god of forgetting? We bend electric.

We warp hollow. We drive deep down into the bedrock, riding fire,

until all of our hurt is your noise.




Sophia Holtz is a writer, performer, and sometimes-illustrator. She has performed her poetry in bars, colleges, and the occasional basement throughout the United States. Her work can be found in Consequence, Muzzle, and Potluck Magazine, among others. Her website is