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The Blog Brothers

Two Black-Irish-American brothers from the mythical city of Albany, New York ponder their 20th century adventures from either side of the Pacific Ocean; Bob in Kyoto, Japan and Mick in Santa Barbara, California.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Railroad Man

Bob, one of the best ways I can think of to honor the man is to post a poem from your book, Further on This Floating Bridge of Dreams, which sure do him proud. Thanks for the green light.

Old Tracy
bent and toothless
black as coal
railroad roustabout
from the first highball sign:
"I been in all the 48
'fore you was born.
Worked American 4-4-0's
way back in the nineties,
went through on Prairies, Berkshires
ten-wheelers, Santa Fe's Mohawks
(counting the tips of his knobbly fingers)
the New York Central
Empire State Express 999
even that Union Pacific 'Big Boy"
twenty four wheels, 6000 horsepower
(out puff the buckled cheeks, each eye
a headlight)
by god, she was a engine!
Go straight uppa mount'n,
pull the mount'n up behind."

In his shack down by the New
York Central Hudson River tracks,
in the coal-stove heat,
curly-cornered photographs
held crackling streets alive with carriages and drays
and black-suited, stovepiped, substantial folks
on trains with puffing engines
gone on down the line.

We snuck some brandy
played some lantern-light poker
while he told us stories
of the country in his head
train sounds in the night
hand to his ear
in the doorway.

Years later
back from some travels
I heard he'd been found the winter before
fire gone out;
whole life on the railroad.


Blogger Ted said...

Beautiful but it makes me sad.

5:56 PM  

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