When Trains Ran On Time by Martin Willitts, Jr. (Where I Live Poetry & Photography Series)

Silver Birch Press

Nycrr-freight-yards_1910_east-syracuse
When Trains Ran On Time
by Martin Willitts, Jr.

I rode a bike five miles on the edge of a road
between asphalt and ditch like a tightrope walker
just to see the trains switch.
Pass goldenrod, Johnny-jump-ups, and milkweed.
Among insect whir and truck whoosh vibrating me.

Isolation was my life; a train track narrowing
towards the horizon, the crossing bar lowering
while boxcars and cattle cars vanished.
I could see the man in the switch tower, watching.
Tracks would merge, converge, split
to destinations only a young mind could imagine.
If I timed it right, I could see the passenger trains
and faces blurring by, some waving at me.

The coal cars no longer come here. No cords of logs
like telephone poles. No cars on two tiers. No caboose
with a man waving a red lantern. They are gone.
My father called it, the romance of the…

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