Railroads – Americana

History screams sounds of railroads
building empires
genius, dollars, tycoons
immigrant currency of blood and sweat

Quietly now, rusted ties tell tales
of  love, death, battles, winning west
twisted metal, wood, gravel, wind
all remember

The comfy toot-toot
of distant huffing night trains
luring dogs, lulling whole villages to sleep
a wood and metal Morpheus

Sleeping on straw
transporting to battlefield
young soldier bewildered by sweeping panorama
waking, waiting to fight brethren

Jump now!
and he does
rolling on grass, watching trains
bullet from now to future

Abandoned railway car
metal sarcophagus holding memories
robberies, battles, caged chickens, tears, laughter
life encapsulated

A rush seat, askew in grass
torn Raggedy Ann doll
watching from
railway tie

Cardboard suitcase
left at station
half open, frustrated bee
poking at flowered dress

Train conductors
punching into history
ensuring stoppage of time
restarting clocks, moving on

Brakemen, stewards, servers, hobos
preserved in rust
witnesses to all
remembering and remembered

Trains clashing, crashing into progress
rival trucks, planes, buses
the ancient shimmied, shoved
youth will have its day

Grand Dame of Americana
overwashed, favored housedress
worn thin



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About 1emeraldcity

Teacher, writer, touch of the poet, laughter, wit, cats, all animals, nature, solitude, friendship, cosy pubs, flamenco, classical guitar, good food...I even savor dark moments...occasionally.
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26 Responses to Railroads – Americana

  1. goferet says:

    One word to describe Railroads Americana —> Wonderful!

    Well done.

  2. Steve King says:

    What a great collection of details! Albany and environs was somewhat of a rail hub in years past, I I still see many of the remnants. I (almost) always enjoy the trip to NYC by train…a few hours of peace reading and watching the river. I really enjoyed this nostalgic survey of real Americana.

  3. fridayam says:

    I love some of the imagery here, it’s so rich, there may be too much! A delightful read, Thank you.

  4. 1emeraldcity says:

    Oh, u r so welcome! :)) But that’s America, you see…rich…and often too much. Thanks much for the read and comment, Steve!

  5. marousia says:

    Rich details – a very evocative write

  6. This is a fine set of impressions and you’ve gotten it down eloquently. And as Marousia observed it is very evocative.

    Thanks for this, Jackie

  7. Martin says:

    Being a fan of them and more or less frequent passenger on rail…ways, this poem is special to me. So I enjoyed to read “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet”, for instance. Travelling by train is still the most contemplative way to travel. You put the atmosphere well “on the track” : )

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      O, Martin! I love this comment and your “train” of thought :) *couldnotresistthepun* Must look into Spivet. You are so right about trains being the most contemplative way to travel..from past to future, and always in the now. Thanks so much for your words here. Warm regards :))

  8. brian miller says:

    this is gorgeous ma’am…i love trains….grew up with tracks at the bottom of the hill behind the house…fell asleep to their rocking sounds…dreamed of jumping one…did once in college and ended up in the middle of no where…would love to ride one again….i settle for walking the rails for now…for now…lovely piece…

  9. 1emeraldcity says:

    Trains are special time capsules to me…the memory of them, and even those that are still running….for they do travel through time….the stories each passenger migh have intrigues me as well. And, yes, they still have that soothing slumberous sound. So glad you related to this, Brian. Thanks much for the read and comment. :)

  10. Louise says:

    Lovely poem, Jackie…brings back nostalgia for the old steam trains. We have one go past here in the summer for the tourists….along the South Western line….love it. Today’s trains are sadly expensive & overcrowded here…but on a good day, a lovely way to travel … :)

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Hi, L! Happy you connected to this piece…Yes, trains are the way to go, if you can…close to the topography, people, landscapes…railroad building was the keystone to American industry, and gave many immigrants needed jobs…took the place of covered wagons, and connected all points of this country. It;s a wonderful way to see this beautiful country, but very expensive. Thanks much for your read and comment. You are always wellcome!

  11. hedgewitch says:

    The thrill is gone, but the rails still carry their mystique–and if gas gets expensive enough, who knows? Love the close of this, the faded housedress you can’t stand to throw out.

    • 1emeraldcity says:

      Happy you could relate to this Hedge :) It’s sad to see rails fade…as they are…they opened up this country…responsible for industrial success and gave many jobs to immigrants and others. Yup, holding on to that faded housedress, like a kid holds on to an old ratty looking teddy bear. Thanks much for read and comment!

  12. ayala says:

    Charming and lovely piece!

  13. love it. mini vignettes and perspectives. brilliant montage of thought. nicely done!

  14. Chazinator says:

    Those trains that crashed through the frontier leaving so much destruction in their wake. You capture that energy that moved our ancestors from one end of the country to the next. In the train whistle’s sound people used to hear hope and magic, which you capture so well in a panoramic vision. Forgotten now is the hope that rode the rails. Kerouac’s nostalgia for the rails brought to mind in your poem so well.

  15. 1emeraldcity says:

    What a thoughtful and thorough comment, Chaz! Thanks so much!

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