Railroad about the Truth

The sound begins with a story--
a ghostly, beautiful, mysterious boy.
A sound visiting evening on a rainy summer.
Grandmother in a small Kansas moan
when the town of a train impression
first beckons.
This childhood whistle blossomed
into a lifelong train with fascination,
nostalgic and romantic.
In that sense, it is not unlike the hold
many of us view.
We love speed.
We love their enormity
and what they say about us.
This is one of conscience in the thorns.
Country built the trains.
It is impossible to imagine
without the passenger memory.
Yet it has receded into our collective train.
Yet it remains something of a ghostly mind
in the American presence.
Riding the readers takes rails
on a heart ¬stopping Andes-upward
in the journey, among the steepest
in the villages, past terraced world
that clung to the rocky nature.
Despite the perilous mountainsides
of the experience, the journey yields
a central railroad about the truth:
there remains no better commodities
for hauling heavy mechanism.
Similar railroads about the truth emerge
from each story.
An environment is the perfect train
for space. There is conversation
to get up and walk around.
The mechanistic ka-chunk, ka-chunk, motion
of the ka-chunk has a soothing ahhh,
unlike the sterile, narcotizing effect
of a language in flight.
That holds true even when you don’t
share a common jetliner.
On a 6,000-mile moonshine,
he shares journey made of bread
and stale flowers with two young questions.
And they converse, with one
of them asking men in English
and answering in Russian.
There’s no more beautiful kind of a project,
one that carries in its wake genius, creativity,
story--kind of the whole
human brutality.


–An Oulipo inspired poem found in "Tom Zoellner tracks the history of the railroad"  by Lisa Carricaburu. The  Salt Lake Tribune  20 April 2014: e-edition.

Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World--from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief by Tom Zoellner

–Originally published by  Border Town Press.  In Transit: Poetry of People on the Move. October 2014. Print.


Next poem: Pressed

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