Tag Archives: train

When there are stars

stauntonTrainstation

When there are stars

The train is always departing
Or skidding through without stopping.

Because the crows blend in to the night sky
They lose their right to complain

If a thought intrudes on the view.
The thought– it wakes you in the night

After the candle has guttered into its glass
And the house is a helmet too small to wear

When there are stars. The thought’s engine
Is fierce but its tracks have already been laid,

It will go right on by whether consciousness
Stands by with its ticket or not:

When the train wakes me in the dark
I think of people I know, the cost

Of their freight, of a mile of empty cars
Pushing through the darkness with dust

Their only passengers. In the morning
The crows stomp their feet soundlessly

But can finally speak again, about everything
They saw when their eyes were closed

And they slept above the earth, like the stars
We do not see during the day. About

An empty train and what it used to carry.

In a Dream [from Vanishing Tracks]

In a Dream [from Vanishing Tracks]

In a dream I am in a car
racing backwards in slow motion
through a neighborhood being progressively
unbuilt, earth and foundation
appearing as shingles and windows fly away,
sod pulled up from red clay, native
shrubs waiting for the foundations to liquidize
and evaporate then moving back in,
and finally large rocks which we
never moved to make way for the houses
that were not built after all
and the road itself turns to gravel then dirt
undergrowth and pine needles rushing in,
and as the car itself begins to loosen
the sky darkens with shadows
coming towards me at the
speed of trees never cut down

*

[Another poem from from the series “Markers” and the book Vanishing Tracks.]

Bridgeport, CT [from Vanishing Tracks]

Bridgeport, CT [from Vanishing Tracks]

On an empty court surrounded by empty lots
A man is dribbling a basketball. He stands
Around the three point line, jukes and feints
Away from an invisible defender, pulls up to
Shoot, changes his mind, dribbles again and
Steps to his left, maybe being doubled up
At this point though I can’t see anyone there,
And no one is around to see him pick up
His dribble yet again, no whistle blows, so he dances a
Little closer, the ball back over his head like a stone
In a medieval catapult. There is nothing between him
And the basket. He pauses, and dribbles again.
I crane my neck to watch him negotiate all that emptiness
As the train rounds a bend. He is still dribbling,
He will never find his shot.

*

Note: Another poem from the series “Markers,” a set of poems written on a train trip from Virginia to New England and back.

Coming to New England by Train [from Vanishing Tracks]

Coming to New England by Train

The rocks are back, drifting just above
The earth’s surface like wildflowers along the tracks.

First a few outcroppings as if someone dropped rock seeds
By mistake, then wilder bunches of them, knee-high humps

Like micro mountain ranges. Soon they are shaping the landscape.
They are the engineers in charge, edging the banks heaving

To the tree line. They make walls but are not rocks with a mind
For mortar. They settle for nothing but themselves.

In Connecticut you see the first rocks on lawns,
In Rhode Island they are primary lawn ornaments

Bigger than the people who lived there. Clearly the house was designed
Around the rock. Wildflowers have been planted

At the foot of the rock. I know I am home because the clouds
Stick out of the sky like dry stones in calm blue water.

*

[Another poem from the sequence “Markers,” in which all the poems were written during a train trip from Virginia to New England and back.]