Three poems from my collection, Civilized Ways

Train Ride

I barely got aboard
when wheels began to roll,
we raced along rattling tracks
piercing the bowels of the city.

I lurched from car to car
searching for an empty seat,
my choice a car of squalling brats,
or toxic clouds of the smoking car.

Breathing’s more important than deafness,
so I picked the chamber of shrieks,
concealing myself in a book,
while thinking of the bullet train.

We were still in the tunnel,
dim lights revealed toiling serfs,
the city’s underground search crews
seeking the subterranean homeless.

Then we burst into the light, the light
the babies yowled, the moms howled,
in the confines of the Pullman car
infant arias were corrosive.

A few minutes passed in the long trip,
the train rolled south on viewless route
of blank walls, patchy shrubbery,
more bearable than travelers’ faces.

The hours crept by on resentful toes
that thwarted my efforts for tolerance.
The volume level of cows and calves
clarified why bulls were solitary.

Darkness fell. The illusion of the window
faded, my stressed face looked back at me.
I cannot focus on my book,
held hostage by overwhelmed senses.


I close my eyes but can’t obliterate
snorts and rumbles of the grazing herd
and yearn for ability
to pass time in meditation.

Crotchety time hates to pass,
as I ride this train of doom
much longer than intended,
trapped in lethal container.

I rise, but am quickly skewered
by inquisitor’s eyes, stabbing suspicions.
They know I’m a poet! Can I deny it?
Does it matter? Should I fear punishment?

I carefully traverse sprawl of legs,
luggage, coats, baby food, rattles, debris
of tribal movement of Hussites,
or another alien horde.

Wary glances follow me.
I can’t go far, or they’ll open my suitcase
and find incendiary poems….
Ah. That’s nonsense. They wouldn’t care about poems.

I took a deep breath for reassurance,
with spring in my step, friendly smile,
I showed the eternal conductor
my ticket of continuation.

The rest of the trip passed quietly.
I forgot apprehensions,
took my place in the migration,
arrived at my destination.

Proximity bred familiarity,
my fellow voyagers waved farewell
as I detrained at a rural station,
leaving good will, taking theirs.

Remote Father

In unreachable distances
anesthetically removed
by a hollow heart
I sit alone
and listen to my daughter
crying in darkness.

 At the Shore

The sky is darkening,
faces in the sunset light
glow red.
The beach is quieting…
A lone kite soars higher than a gull.
Mother and daughter
dig the last sand castle.
A small boat races home,
urgent to beat the menacing dark.
The glowering pink sky
growls with the weight
of old sol going west.
A cool breeze
blows across the boardwalk,
WPA built in 1937.
Joggers and runners
pound the boards,
startling old ladies
with pink hair
and faded lace shawls.
Then evening slides in.
The sky succumbs to sullen red.
Another casual day ebbs away.
Darkness claims the promenade,
and thoughts of drink, dance and growing lust
propel the tourists to smoke-filled bars,
as the night cycle goes on
to some formless destination,
preparing adornments
before the final funeral.

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