Poetry in motion?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Badotz, May 16, 2006.

  1. Badotz

    Badotz New Member


    I have lived near the RR tracks all my life. I love the sound of the wind as the freights rush by. I love the smell of creosote and diesel. I ache all over when I hear a far-away whistle.

    The following is a my interpretation of what tra(i)nspired one night not too long ago...


    Late at night, when the moon was full, a train ran by my house.
    The locomotive let out a single, wheezy whistle, a guilty sigh that was more like a plea for forgiveness than the warning it ought to have been. Perhaps it was the engineer's voice I heard?

    Behind the engine were passenger cars. They were longer than any I had ever seen. They ran very smoothly on the cold rails, a whisper after the gasp of the engine. They were dark brown, like ground coffee. There was golden lettering on their sides.

    There was a bright light at the end of each car, just above a door, which led to a small walkway. Polished brass handrails curved around this open platform.

    The lights filtered through the tall corn in my garden. The strange, stark shadows seemed to float in my bedroom, as if projected, without touching the walls.

    Occasionally, a car window glowed from within, like a candle seen through honey. I did not see any passengers.

    There were flatcars between the passenger cars. On them were pickup trucks, tall crates and long, wrapped objects. They could have been sleeping giants. Or rolls of newsprint.

    I saw trucks with trailers. One was attached to an Airstream motor home, a silver cocoon in the light of the moon.

    I saw trucks with fabric covering their beds, like military transports. Like a circus caravan.
    But this was not a military train. Nor was it a circus train. It could not be. It was too beautiful to be something so pedestrian.

    The train ran due north, out of the flatlands, up into the High Desert. It was not in a hurry.

    I tried to count the cars, but I could not. I tried to count the windows in a passing car, but I could not. I tried to read the golden letters, but I could not. I tried to look away, but I could not.

    I sat at the edge of my bed, mesmerized by the shadows dancing in my bedroom. By the soft hissing of the cars as they slid past. By the bright lights between each car. By the icy snowball moon shining behind the train.

    I stared through the window in wonderment, agape, draped in light and shadow.

    Then silence smoothly took the place of sound. Then darkness gently took the place of light. But still the pewter moon glared brightly through my window.

    The train had passed. The no-sound of its ghost flooded the room.

    My heart pounded. I willed the train to return. It did not come back.

    I thought I saw the full moon wink as I lay back down on my cool pillow.

    I love trains.
  2. Relic

    Relic Member

    I too have lived a good chunk of my life near, usually within sight of ,a mainline.When I was a kid my dad worked on the section and mum used to time doin' the wash so's not to get cinders on the bedcloths. I wish I'd paid attention then.
  3. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    ah, childhood

    One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the lap of an engineer in the cab of a steam locomotive, and reaching for a golden braided cord with a golden tassel at the end, and pulling on it. The blast from the whistle nearly scared me out of my skin, but after that moment passed, I did it again. What a rush it was. Everyone was laughing as I climbed out of the cab. I couldn't have been more than three years old.
  4. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I was not a child the time I rode in the cab of a SP cab forward. I was working for the SP back in the 50's and 60's and had a chance to hitch a ride from my home right next to the tracks to my job as Telegrapher Clerk. The engine came from Alturas, Ca. to a little siding called Perez, Ca. to help a train over the hill. I asked the engineer for a ride to Alturas where I was working and he said sure, hop on. I climbed up into the cab and we backed up to the end of the siding to wait for the train. Shortly the train showed up and shot past us on a run for hill. We backed up and I was surprised to disclver nobody got off to change the switch. It was a spring switch, made that way for the purpose of the helper backing out to the main line. As soon as we backed up the engineer poured the "oil" to it, opened up the steam valves and we were on our way to catch up to the caboose of the train ahead. That was really exciting to see us gaining on the caboose. I thought for sure we were going to ram it but the engineer pulled and pushed some handles and we came up and just kissed that caboose. Then he opened her up and we really took off up that hill.
    I was no kid then but I sure felt like one with the excitement.

    That is a beautiful poem Badotz
  5. Hodgy

    Hodgy New Member


    Badotz, a wonderfull image in that poem, I feel as if I was there. I too used to go to my grandmothers who lived near the tracks . I relished the sound of a long frieight passing in the middle of the night
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Nice pictures in your poetry, Badotz. As Bob Dylan says, "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry". It's one of my favourite songs and it always reminds me of listening to steam engines whistling in the night as they sped to faraway places.

  7. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    Great story

    Very good Badotz, wish I had a train in my town while growing up, or even now.

  8. abutt

    abutt Member

    Afine poem!

    When I was a child, we were visiting my grandparents in Boston. My mom dressed me in the finest Best & Company's camelshair outfit; coat, pants, and even the cap. My grandfather took me for a walk down Back Bay station near his office to see the big steam engines. Just as we passed the pistons, the engineer vented the steam all over us (I don't think he really meant to). You should have seen that Best & Co's outfit! You should have seen my mother's face when we returned. Poor gramps!

  9. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    Clerk, Hodgy, doctorwayne, thumsup: Thanks for the kind words.

    I feel like I don't really belong here; while I share a love of trains with you all, modeling doesn't do it for me. I can (and do) appreciate it, however. The Train Museum at Balboa Park (in San Diego) is one of my favorite places. I hope you can overlook this flaw in my character and let me stick around.
  10. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    Stick around

    Maybe we can convert you.:rolleyes: :thumb:
  11. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    The Roundhouse Kids

    abutt - funny story. Castles made of sand, eh? (meaning your mom's expectations were dashed by that "hint o' steam", but I bet your Grandpa was near hysterical ;-)

    * * *

    So we all have had early experiences with trains. Or have we? I posit a general question: What sparked your interest in trains? Something from childhood or later, say as a teen or young adult? For me, it was a trip to the round house and yanking the cord to blow the whistle when I was about three years old. That blast of noise hooked me. What hooked you?
  12. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    mea culpa

    thumsup - you know better :cool:
  13. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Great Story Badotz..... Yeah - we overlook ""flaws" all the time here :) If you don't get into modeling, your stories and your comments are always welcome here :D :D :D
  14. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    Get a hobby? Sheesh...

    N Gauger, I am a computer programmer. I am consumed by computer programming. I cannot LIVE without computer programming. Sounds to me like the definition of a hobby, no? :)

    Oh, I do ride my bicycle now and again, and I read voraciously. I cook almost every day for family and friends, and I supervise the care and feeding of a houseful of @#$% cats! And all of this without resorting to recreational drugs - except, of course, black coffee, Advil, Dewar's and Guiness aussie
  15. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    :D :D :D Yeah - I design Web Sites on the side :) I know exactly what you mean :) :)

    It's always nice to see the finished product.... even better when it's on the first or second try :D :D
  16. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Any one who appreciates trains as you do certainly does belong here! :thumb: We do have sub forums about "the Real Thing" if you aren't interested in modeling, and of course, you can coninue to post in "General Talk" or "The Caboose" about anything train related...maybe even write another poem!

    We're glad you joined us.

    PS..My first train memory is of visiting relatives in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Isalnd, NY. We took some trains out of Manhattan...I was too young to appreciate whether it was from Penn Station or Grand Central. I mostly remember the enormous size, earth shaking rumble, and loud sound of the trains that pulled up for us to ride. (Circa 1963)
  17. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    aitch tee em ell

    N Gauger: I create web applications - design is not! my strong suit (unless you like squares, lines, etc.) No flash for me, sorry...just database connectivity, web pages that behave like Windows applications (no flickering), etc., etc., etc. Don't get me started...

    Oh, yeah - when I worked in IT, we had a mantra, a Haiku, actually:

    We hate computers.
    We hate computer users.
    Can you feel the love?

    You might deduce from the above that I am a cynic? You'd be right. Remember: Murphy was an optimist ;)
  18. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    RR logos

    Ralph: Your Penn Central logo inspired me to find one of my all-time favorite corporate logos, Illinois-Central. Growing up in Cleveland, I saw a lot of IC cars.

    The logos that stand out most for me are B&O, C&O (I had a cat named Chessie ;-), Erie Lackawanna, Penn Central. I liked the ones that weren't just words, but required a bit of thought to decipher.

    In a related incident, the Northwest Airlines logo is, to my mind, spectacular. It is immediately recognizable, and fools the eye while being viewed.
  19. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    Growing Up

    Growing up in North Long Beach, California, I didn't have much contact with real trains. Can't say why, I just didn't.

    But when I was a very young lad in the mid 50's, Santa left me a Lionel train set. Dad proclaimed "He is too young to play with the train alone." So, Dad and I played with it together.

    Things were going pretty well; Dad built a train table in my room. We had such grand plans, he and I, but they were not to be realized. My sister passed away suddenly.

    Dad never got over her death. His interest in me and my train disappeared.
    Looking back, I see now that he gave up almost everything else, except the aching loss.

    Perhaps that is why, last year, I decided to set up another model train table. Something to remind me of Dad and my sister, something to help resolve my own murky memories.

    Well, the Wife didn't support my reasoning or needs. I mean, I'm just a big kid who never had his own layout. About six months after I started planning the layout - and the same month I joined the Gauge - she announced she wanted a divorce.

    I was taken by surprise. I don't mean to imply that my trains made her go nuts, but who can say? It was the last straw, maybe?

    I'm not sharing this story for pity, but to realize a moral: My marriage is a clinker, but the layout has potential, and has grown in so many ways. For that, I'm thankful.
  20. Badotz

    Badotz New Member

    ...and the Umpire said, "Strike three!"

    thumsup: argh, a tragic tale, but with a silver lining. Is that a light I see in the tunnel?

    Don't worry, you'll get no pity from me - things don't work for a reason, usually something I did, or something I didn't do. Kinda like the $20,000 Pyramid ;-)

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