Monday, May 19, 2014

A Poem by Bob Brill

Coming into Denver by Train

in the rocking train
the whistle's throaty wailing cry
as we tunnel through darkness
around the mountain's sloping flanks

the train rounds a curve
to a full moon rising
over the lights of the city
spread out below on the plain

descending by switchbacks
the moon eclipsed and reemerging by turns
as we pass the remaining hills
and hulking dark buildings

we shoot into a narrow channel
of houses close to the track
in the train window
dark houses
lighted windows
flowing past
and the still image of my reflected face
lit by the tiny lamp
over the bed
in my compartment

I catch glimpses
of people in the windows
I see the flickering blue light
of television sets
a man's face
filling a TV screen
talking talking

I picture families seated at dinner
passing the roast around the table
a man in his undershirt
reading a newspaper
feet up on a favorite stool
a boy chewing a pencil
as he does his homework

I imagine a pair of lovers
pressed close together
listening to the wheels
pounding the rails
the rattle of the coaches
and the hoarse moaning
of the whistle
calling the soul
to take to the road
as the train passes
and the uproar fades
the whistle crying faint and far away
they return to themselves
to each other

I pretend to have a magic passport
that would let me enter those fleeing homes
to sit at the dinner table with the family
and listen to their stories
of how they came
to be clustered here
in these houses
by the tracks
on the outskirts of Denver

it would take a dedicated lifetime
to mine this lode
all these lives
that fly past the window
I feel the ache of riches
sifting through my fingers

we roll slowly into Denver station
the great train stops with a jolt
breathing out a soft mechanical sigh
I hear movement and voices in the corridor
as travelers prepare to leave the train

but not I
who still have another two days of travel
before I can reclaim the freedom
to go anywhere I want
on my own two legs
and sleep in my own bed
where sometimes I hear
the distant cry
of train whistles in the night
I heard them as a boy
and wondered what it would be like
to adventure forth into the world

Bob Brill is a retired computer programmer and digital artist. He is now devoting his energies to writing fiction and poetry. His novellas, short stories and more than 120 poems have appeared in over forty online magazines, print journals, and anthologies.

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