Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mystery Train


Mystery Train


Montana twilight
train whistle a devil’s lovesong
in the pines, shaking out drowsy owls. 
Fiery hooves ratcheting on the steel rails
clatter against the mountain calm.

Montana boy
distant eyes windowed glacier blue
sun's leather on your  brown cheeks
quiet hands, wild tongue of blarney
dancing your waysong in the deep woods

fey in the campfire light stroking my 
borrowed guitar, gifts given lost or kept
your misfortune my mystery
train ticket in a denim pocket 
pressed flat between us.

You thought you could talk anyone
into anything, meeting your folks on the blue
beyond ranch. City girl, braided gypsy,
I was a sprite, a freak, only your
hallucination there.

So we had a beer at the depressingly
real train station, waiting for John Wayne
with the devil arriving at 12:18. 
Time was overcranked. I remember you 
lifted my heavy barglass, turned it

to drink where my lips
had been, goodbye chipped silver
in the fogged antique mirrors. 
The San Francisco train
took your letters back.

Miles of dust 
down a switched track,
the devil still pulls Montana's whisper
lullaby low in the valley,
train howling to a stroked guitar.

September 2011


Posted for    Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub


 Optional Musical Accompaniment: Mystery Train by Junior Parker and Sam Phillips, performed by Paul Butterfield and The Band





35 comments:

  1. oh hedge i just love this...the train ticket in a denim pocket
    pressed flat between us....yikes..nice...the devil arriving at 12:18..the guitar..the mystery...the sadness...ugh...beautiful and dusty at its best...

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  2. nice...this made me think of those storytelling songs...like charlie daniels...drinking from the place the lips had kissed, nice...john wayne and the devil, both prominant in great western songs...ha....the SF train took your letters back...really like this hedge....

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  3. I lived in Montana for a few years. I know these people, the ones who end up lonely, king of going around in circles their whole lives.

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  4. Sweet memory...at times I wish it'd just leave me be.

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  5. I remembered that movie "something wicked this way comes" and had shivers in that first stanza, so perfectly rendered.

    But it sounds like he wasn't wicked, just wild, and you've remembered him with a very nice sip, a great song, and a look back in the mirror.

    Now I wanna dance.

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  6. i passed that campfire one night en route to Spokane, riding the rails from Chicago and another start of my next life ... another of those six degrees of separation things, crossing ghostly paths separated by years and et cetera. I loved this tale of encounter and moving on, a train ticket pressed in the book of memory. Montana boy, city girl, it might have started there if hadn't ended with the devil's 12:18. Loved it ... Brendan

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  7. r u a westerns fan hedge? - the opening scene in 'once upon a time in the west' is legend and its got trains - classic - as always love what you do - big john and the devil - oh yeah - get off your horse and drink your black milk lucifer

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  8. I don't know if I want to search John Denver, or dig out Me and Bobby McGee...your story tellers voice is strong in this piece. A wonderful weave, as always...but this one speaks really loud for me. Fantastic and magical adventure!

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  9. this had a rythem that was a delight to follow along to...loved it

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  10. Beautiful poem... I especially like stanzas 2 & 3.

    ~laurie

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  11. HW-- this is an absolutely excellent poem-- filled with music and the spirit of youth-- just remarkable. Keep em coming and coming back for more, baby. xxxj

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  12. this had a classic western and dark quality i ate up.

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  13. Oh hell yeah...mystery train. So love it!
    Notch another work up on your wooden bedstead; this piece rocks and rolls on down the line. I felt as though I were watching it. Great lines throughout! G.

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  14. Yep... just sitting around a fire and listening to a good story.

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  15. Really really liked this. ticket in denim pocket, glass turned round to drink, (I'm not quoting but you know the spots I mean), end lovely too. Thanks.

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  16. Powerful poem - love once, love lost -- and all the images of that setting. Outstanding.

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  17. I enjoyed the Montana tale until its whisper

    I like these image:

    the devil still pulls Montana's whisper
    lullaby low in the valley,
    train howling to a stroked guitar.

    Thanks for sharing this ~

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  18. I leave you that 1878 Nomad car in its initial incarnation, quarters fine enough for Presidents, now the oldest operating private railroad car in the world, to honor your work of art.

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  19. oh, i love a good mystery... I can still hear its whistle long after. Really good story, full of intrigue and romance.

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  20. The worse sin is to never sit with the Devil and hear his tunes because then the whistle of his train can carry on over the hill without you having to think, 'What if...'

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  21. Many thanks all. It's up to us old women to tell the tales around the campfire now, humming deafly out of tune (but very low.)

    @Ruth: I'll hum and you dance. Maybe someone will turn up with a guitar.

    @Arron lovin the black milk--locomotive blood, no doubt. and I love westerns, from a child--still waiting on the damn calvary.

    @B. all the campfires are the same campfire, and all guitars are blue at night.

    @Anna: I accept with some trepidation, as I'm not sure I'm worthy--then I realize all Presidents have been politicians, and we should restock the Nomad completely with poets to save its sanity. (There's a pun on no-mad in there somewhere...sorry, it's late and I'm totally goofy.)

    @John: It would be a poorer life indeed without a 'what if' and a shot or two of black milk with Lucifer to look back on.

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  22. There is a pulse of music in the wheels of your mystery train! A beautiful ride on a journey brushed with longing and sadness!

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  23. Thanks, Gemma. Always good to see you.

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  24. A mesmerising narrative...so enjoyed the pull.. those clanks, whistles and guitar chords really played out the emotions here.. fine, fine write..with an outstanding climax:

    the devil still pulls Montana's whisper
    lullaby low in the valley,

    train howling to a stroked guitar.

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  25. Your imagery is always so pleasing, this no exception. All the elements hit in their own unique way, great write ~ Rose

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  26. Like Natasha, this put me in mind of "Me & Bobby McGee" a little bit. I love "train whistle a devil's love song." And the part about the bar glass is so luminous and real, I am thinking it had to have happened.

    I've been to Montana, and this captures the big wide lonesome feel of it. Having a world of two, there, no matter how transitory, would be hard to forget or leave behind. Another beautiful, heartbreaking piece from you, dear friend.

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  27. Oh I like this piece a lot- I enjoy the manner you told the piece, very reminiscent of another time- just a really good write, thanks for sharing it

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  28. what a tale! the ones that are as good as this do continue to haunt for eternity down the track and to a strummed guitar (love that)

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  29. I love stanza 4. I've certainly felt like that on more than one occasion, much out of place until I found one who helped me feel at home in my own skin. Fun ride :)

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  30. Joy, like Claudia, I love train ticket in a denim pocket pressed flat between us....:) nice write.

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  31. I found this poem very romantic, in a sad way. Brilliant writing. Love the tale, Loved the campfire. You writing leaves me in awe!

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  32. "train howling to a stroked guitar."

    love this! trains always bring mystery and romance to mind for me.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg