Archives for posts with tag: train

Image
RAILWAY
by Fred D’Aguiar

Long before you see train
The tracks sing and tremble,
Long before you know direction
Train come from, a hum
Announces it soon arrive.
So we tend to drop on all fours
Even before we look left or right.
We skip the sleepers or walk
Along by balancing on a rail.
We talk about the capital
Where the train ends its run
From the interior stacked with
The outsized trunks of felled
Trees and open-topped cars of bauxite.
We always hide from it unsure
What the train will do if we
Stand next to the tracks.
It flattens our nails into knives,
It obliterates any traffic
Caught by it at crossroads,
It whistles a battle cry,
Steam from the engine a mood
Not to mess with or else.
Rails without beginning or end,
Twinned hopes always at your back,
Always up front signaling you on,
Double oxen, hoof stomp, temper
Tantrum, stampede, clatter
Matter, head splitter, hear us,
Stooped with an ear to the line—
greenheart, mora, baromalli,
purple heart, crabwood,
kabakalli, womara.

SOURCE: Poetry (December 2008).

PHOTO: “Old Bauxite train in Linden, Guyana.”

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fred D’Aguiar –born in London of Guyanese parents and raised in Guyana — is a poet, writer, and professor of English and Africana studies at Virginia Tech State University. He is the author of British Subjects, English Sampler: New and Selected Poems, and The Longest Memory, and is the recipient of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. His sixth poetry collection is Continental Shelf (2011), available at Amazon.com. Visit him at freddguiar.com.

Image
ON THE TRAIN TO DEL MAR
by Charles Bukowski

I get on the train on the way to the track
it’s down near Dago
and this gives some space and rolling and
I have my pint
and I walk to the barcar for a couple of
beers
and I weave upon the floor–
THACK THACK THACKA THACK THATCK THACKA THACK–
and some of it comes back
a little of it comes back
like some green in a leaf after a long
dryness

and the sun crashes into the barcar like a
bull and the bartender sees that
I am feeling good
he smiles a real smile and
asks–
“How’s it going?”

how’s it going? my heels are down
my shoes cracked
I am wearing my father’s pants and he died
ten years ago
I need 8 teeth pulled
my intestine has a partial blockage
I puff on a dime cigar

“Great!” I answer him,
“how you making?”

glory glory glory and the train rolls on
past the sea
past the sand and
down in between the
cliffs.

SOURCE: “On the Train to Del Mar” appears in Charles Bukowski‘s collection The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (Black Sparrow Press, (1969), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Amtrak Surfliner” by Traci Lehman. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image
NIGHT JOURNEY
by Theodore Roethke

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) is widely regarded as among the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation. Roethke’s work is characterized by its introspection, rhythm and natural imagery. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book, The Waking, and he won the annual National Book Award for Poetry twice, in 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field. In the November 1968 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, former U.S. Poet Laurete and author James Dickey wrote Roethke was: “…in my opinion the greatest poet this country has yet produced.” In 2012, he was featured on a United States postage stamp as one of ten great 20th Century American poets. (Source: Wikipedia.org.)

Photo: Graphic based on “Sunset from a Moving Train” by Kirsten M. Lentoff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Image
GIVING A MANICURE
by Minnie Bruce Pratt

The woman across from me looks so familiar,
but when I turn, her look glances off. At the last
subway stop we rise. I know her, she gives manicures
at Vogue Nails. She has held my hands between hers
several times. She bows and smiles. There the women
wear white smocks like technicians, and plastic tags
with their Christian names. Susan. No, not Susan,
whose hair is cropped short, who is short and stocky.
This older lady does my hands while classical music,
often Mozart, plays. People passing by outside are
doubled in the wall mirror. Two of everyone walk
forward, backward, vanish at the edge of the shop.
Susan does pedicures, pumice on my heels as I sit
on the stainless-steel throne. She bends over, she
kneads my feet in the water like laundry. She pounds
my calves with her fists and her cupped palms slap
a working beat, p’ansori style. She talks to the others
without turning her head, a call in a language shouted
hoarse across fields where a swallow flew and flew
across the ocean, and then fetched back to Korea
a magic gourd seed, back to the farmer’s empty house
where the seed flew from its beak to sprout a green vine.
When the farmer’s wife cut open the ripe fruit, out spilled
seeds of gold. Choi Don Mee writes that some girls
in that country crush petals on their nails, at each tip
red flowers unfold. Yi Yon-ju writes that some women
there, as here, dream of blades, knives, a bowl of blood.
***
“Giving a Manicure” appears in Minnie Bruce Pratt’s collection The Dirt She Ate: New and Selected Poems (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), available at Amazon.com.

PAINTING: “Diversity on New York City Subway” by Betsy Horn, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at etsy.com.

Image
SUBWAY RUSH HOUR
by Langston Hughes

Mingled
breath and smell
so close
mingled
black and white
so near
no room for fear. 

 PHOTO: “New York subway, 1969” by Ralph Crane, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Image

I decided to paint the image of a locomotive . . . In order for its mystery to be evoked, [and] another immediately familiar image without mystery—the image of a dining room fireplace—was joined.” René Magritte

PAINTING: “Time Transfixed” by René Magritte (1898-1967), permanent collection, Art Institute of Chicago.

Image
LIVING AT THE END OF TIME
by Robert  Bly

There is so much sweetness in children’s voices,
And so much discontent at the end of day,
And so much satisfaction when a train goes by.
 
I don’t know why the rooster keeps crying,
Nor why elephants keep raising their trunks,
Nor why Hawthorne kept hearing trains at night.
 
A handsome child is a gift from God,
And a friend is a vein in the back of the hand,
And a wound is an inheritance from the wind.
 
Some say we are living at the end of time,
But I believe a thousand pagan ministers
Will arrive tomorrow to baptize the wind.
 
There’s nothing we need to do about John. The Baptist
Has been laying his hands on earth for so long
That the well water is sweet for a hundred miles.
 
It’s all right if we don’t know what the rooster
Is saying in the middle of the night, nor why we feel
So much satisfaction when a train goes by.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Bly (born December 23, 1926) is an American poet and author of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a key text of the mythopoetic men’s movement, which spent 62 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list. He won the 1968 National Book Award for Poetry for his book The Light Around the Body. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Train at Sunset, New Mexico” (1941) by Jack Delano.

Image
NIGHT JOURNEY
by Theodore Roethke

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) is widely regarded as among the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation. Roethke’s work is characterized by its introspection, rhythm and natural imagery. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1954 for his book, The Waking, and he won the annual National Book Award for Poetry twice, in 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field. In the November 1968 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, former U.S. Poet Laurete and author James Dickey wrote Roethke was: “…in my opinion the greatest poet this country has yet produced.” In 2012, he was featured on a United States postage stamp as one of ten great 20th Century American poets. (Source: Wikipedia.org.)

Photo: Graphic based on “Sunset from a Moving Train” by Kirsten M. Lentoff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Image

Winds from Hurricane Sandy washed this boat onto the tracks at the Metro-North’s Ossining Station in Ossining, New York. (MTA New York photo via AP)

Many post-Hurrican Sandy sights are surreal — just in time for Halloween. I can imagine the above scene of the boat on the train tracks in a Stephen King book! Maybe one is in the works.

Image

The above photo called to mind the great Surrealist — Belgian painter René Magritte (1898-1967).

Growing up in Chicago, I frequently visited the Art Institute, home of one of Magritte’s most discussed works “Time Transfixed” (included at right) — and was always fascinated by this painting (who wouldn’t be?).

According to Magritte: “I decided to paint the image of a locomotive . . . In order for its mystery to be evoked, [and] another immediately familiar image without mystery—the image of a dining room fireplace—was joined.”

Image

NIGHT JOURNEY

Poem by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.

Photo: “Sunset from a Moving Train” by Kirsten M. Lentoff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED