Saturday, January 28, 2012

Train Time




Train Time




I’ve made my accommodations,
set my watch to the new time zone
for this journey rolled on the tumbling wheels
of an iron horse rocking in darkness
as the wind blows the flying flag whistle.

The last ticket crackles in my pocket
a faint fire on my skin as I
try to forget the dead girl I left
tied to the carousel, round and round;
I’ve made my accommodations.

Out the window the night’s a film
come sifting down in haze
through clouds' warm rich milk
sieving back secrets like kept curd;
only skimmed wastelight falls in the new time zone 

where we chase the hours through the lengthening night
with a cawing louder than a lunatic crow’s
up and up the spiral way through rockbound trees
before the snow, the long descent to the sea
as the journey unrolls on tumbling wheels

unwinding a silkscreen I barely can see:
bright and flashing dawns, white cabins
malachite forests, yellow-eyed owls
beginnings and red tulips overtaken, outrun
by the night horse rocking in darkness.

The sum of what I want is not where I must go
but all the places this train will never stop,
while the sleepless wheels whisper: no drugs no drink
no magic trick can ever take
the  flying whistle back from the wind.





January 2012

Posted for   real toads
where the prompt today is the photography of Daryl Edelstein
and also submitted for

Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
hosted today by Sheila Moore and Karin Gustafson, and where the theme is undercurrents. I'm pretty sure there are a few of those lurking here somewhere.


This poem is written in the Cascade form. The first stanza sets the number of lines per verse (it can be any number) and also provides the end lines for the subsequent stanzas, in sequential order: first line ending the second stanza, second line ending the third, etc. till the final line ends the last stanza. I've played with the word order in some of the repeating lines, just because.


Images: Both photos by Daryl Edelstein
Used with permission


Fireblossom has suggested the following for optional musical accompaniment:



and here is what the poem reminds me of:



33 comments:

  1. I may be wrong, but I am reading the dead girl as being a recent version of the speaker, left behind once and for good, unrecallable. I love how you've used the cascade form, but given yourself a little freedom with the exact wording.

    The third and sixth stanzas particularly took my breath away. Wow, Hedge. *hits you over the head with that bar you keep raising*

    You really brought the train journey to life...I could feel both the train and the night it traveled through. Really excellent take on the two photographs of Daryl's!

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  2. Wow, wow, wow.... how do you do it? Every time you knock my socks off.

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  3. Thanks much, ladies. Had some fun with this one.

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  4. love it...a complete start over...forgetting the dead girl behind... there are times when we need to reset life in dramatical ways and i love how you capture all the feelings that go with such a step...esp. the last stanza took my breath away

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  5. I love each line of the opening stanza and am amazed how cleverly you worked each one into the others, each cryptic and gripping in their own right. This is a huge writing project in my book, and the end result is a wonderful accompaniment to the picture. And that last line is just fantastic.
    Jealous much? I ask myself.

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    1. Thanks, Kerry. You often have the same effect on me, believe me. Cascades are really pretty fun I think--not nearly as hard work as many forms, because there's no stipulated rhyme or meter, though neither is that forbidden afaik. I learned this one at Big Tent, and have written a couple of them.

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  6. I am wordless and longing to get on a train- well, your train I'd like much better.

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  7. I love the final stanza, especially the last two lines.
    K

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  8. I only need lace up my selkie boots and step across the threshold of this poem and I'm thick in see-water: that this iron horse has jumped from one carousel onto another set of rails, spiraling up and down the dark interior where the older circuit just went round and round. And O that flying flag whistle, calling in the night somewhere across the plain, heading everywhere the speaker never will quite get to ... A dark horse with a way and will of its own, no boarding, no getting off (I read a bit of both perspectives), and on its own time, heedless of the passage we sure intended and counted on. And powerful, if it exceeds the poem itself. And the rhythm of the rails, surely a blue noir ... Loved it. - Brendan

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    1. Thanks for reading with so much insight, B. And I love the boots...or flippers, as the case may be.

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  9. I especially like the last stanza, which is where I think you get (at least en route to) some very universal place:

    The sum of what I want is not where I must go
    but all the places this train will never stop,
    while the sleepless wheels whisper: no drugs no drink
    no magic trick can ever take
    the flying whistle back from the wind.

    (You can't go home again, and maybe not away either.) K.

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    1. Thanks, K. You definitely got this one. Really enjoyed your prompt, and the excellent poetry it's produced.

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  10. Wowzers. I have been pining for a train trip and now I feel like I have taken one. I love the rocking in the night time. My last train ride was to my doom (marriage) in 1966. Sigh. I would love to take another, as a free being.

    Your writing is astounding, Joy.

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  11. Out of the window, the night's a film..

    someday I'll be a poet Hedgewitch :)

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  12. You have sketched well the nightmare of a crime whose secret is belied by the evenneness of tone and mental scenes of your words. That adds to the horror, knowing how the warped soul can salve its conscience with made up fantasies and poetic sounding words. The brutal reality, of course, gives rhe lie to this, but we are intoxicated by the beauty of it, the sound it makes in the void.

    This among many lines stood out for me:

    only skimmed wastelight falls in the new time zone

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  13. I love that you played with the end lines... very creative. This is beautiful, especially:

    where we chase the hours through the lengthening night
    with a cawing louder than a lunatic crow’s
    up and up the spiral way through rockbound trees
    before the snow, the long descent to the sea
    as the journey unrolls on tumbling wheels

    ...and the ending.

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  14. i love trains...grew up around them and there is a certain romanticism about them...this def has some intriguing twists...the body on the carousel initially caught me off guard...the last stanza though is superb...the first two lines of that stanza and the last one are by far my favs...glad you shared it at dverse. smiles.

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  15. Wow! What an amazing poem!

    And thanks for your fun contribution to last week's Limerick-Off!

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  16. I thought there were undercurrents throughout. Beautifully wrought.

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  17. This is such a gorgeous tribute to timeless longing. I kept hearing "tumbling weeds" in "tumbling wheels" and so this had a distinctly Western feel for me, and all those tales of trains. The language, and the rocking rhythm, are very satisfying, and when I got to the lines:

    The sum of what I want is not where I must go
    but all the places this train will never stop,


    it felt just perfect, and I even wanted the train to go on forever.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. So glad you got something from it. The only train journeys I've ever taken were in the West, through the Rockies and along the California coast, so perhaps the weeds did get in there. ;-)

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  18. A train ride has that special feel but many trade it for a less exhausting plane journey these days. All goes to show those into poetry have all the time in the world to savor the goodness of train rides! And sometimes not riding in one but writing beautifully!

    'I’ve made my accommodations,
    set my watch to the new time zone
    for this journey rolled on the tumbling wheels
    of an iron horse rocking in darkness'

    The first stanza itself has already set the mood for a long journey even through the nights!
    Great verse, Joy!

    Hank

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  19. I don't believe you can write a poem without undercurrents. This is lovely Hedge and your ending verse just smacks of emotional longing and angst.

    Happy day ~

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  20. I can't imagine a theme more fitting for your poetry than undercurrents. I really enjoyed this one.

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  21. Joy, this one knocks our socks off,
    and our toenail polish; man, it is
    part Plath and part Ian Fleming,
    with some Hitchcock and Doyle
    blossoming on its edges. Superb
    poetics, incredible journey, love the
    line: /outrun by the night horse
    rocking in darkness/ so cool, so
    noir, so dark, yet streaked with
    light.

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  22. This blew me away. Such imagery. I was literally there with you. You crafted these words so beautifully. I loved the thought about the person being madenupmof all the places the train passes through not the final destination. How very true. This speaks to me about life and leaving behind those things that hold you back

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  23. amazing journey - one of knowing where I want to go but at the same time knowing that I never will is something I can relate to.

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  24. For me this is the speaker leaving a life that is wrote. Opportunities have passed by, even the old life might want to be revisited but never can. She has already cast a die that cannot be un-cast. I relate to this one on all points.

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  25. This is such a lovely poetic form and perfect for the poem you wrote. Moving on, you carry something with you from your previous life. I'm always amazed by the strong undercurrents in all of your poetry.

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  26. WOW ... WOW .. I am so enjoying reading your words .. so interesting to see how different eyes see different things and the words all still fit!

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  27. You called this a Cascade... I'd love to know more about it. The ending -

    no magic trick can ever take
    the flying whistle back from the wind.

    just blew me away! Very emotional piece.

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  28. There is a determined, dark but not sinister, depth to this for me. I really like the form too - might play with it myself.

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