Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Some years ago, Ford Motor company stopped shipping new cars destined for New England by railroad. There was a huge train yard across the Merrimac River, just over the Lowell city line in Billerica, Mass. (home of Future Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine. One night, unable to sleep, I heard the sound of a single switching locomotive,  moving box cars around and forming up trains of empty car carriers. I could hear the sharp bang every time the engineer would add a car to the tree. All the windows in my house were open on a warm spring night.
       My dad was a Boston & Maine employee who worked around the yards, doing maintenence. He spoke to me once of how he would occasionally get lonely and a bit melancholy being out there at night. He explained how he would miss his wife and two small sons, but  he knew he needed to be out there making money.
      I remembered that conversation some 30 years later and I tried to imagine the loneliness felt by the men who work away from their families, often alone and isolated.

Open Windows in the Spring

                                                                  May 15, '00
                                                                  3:37 am
                                                                   sleep - my eye

lonesome cold
sound of
a switcher
banging empty
in the dead
of night-

oh sight

in the distance

folded back

my father walking
home with midnite
lunch bucket.

-cold swept
 iron tracks

                                    my eye
                                    empty now. 


The poem is not universal enough. 
No one else can see my dad.
Since my dad died young, my seeing
him disappearing  down the tracks, uncommunicative;
I've made him up; but haven't 
felt his pain or explained his loneliness.
I got no further than conjuring up a vision
of him that is sterile. No dirt, sweat  or grime.
No slack muscles.  No exhaustion. He's a ghost;
and the poem is not that interesting.

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