Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Union Pacific #1 (revised) & Union Pacific #2

OK, now there are two of them....

Union Pacific #1

landscape at 8,000 feet the rocks’ iron bones the
cranial frigid mesas the wind turbines off
kilter quixotic swoosh a
freight train skating across the tableland west of
Cheyenne be-
tween the sagebrush & the fog & cell towers a
tourist log cabin advertising wi fi espresso Native American
a yellow locomotive skating a
line of rust orange hoppers hauling coal &
graffiti west the
pump jacks’ atavistic nods grazing for natural gas
I will always be lonesome & the radio only broadcasts static
at this elevation
                                    Laramie in a blue fog light has dis-
appeared from the rearview how many miles back a copper
bust of Lincoln hulking over the highway I will always be
lonesome at this elevation
                                                        a freight train skating across the
great divide the cold grinding of couplers this morning at
19 degrees at the Rawlins’ siding I will always be
traveling thru time between the blue blue fog & the
sagebrush & a series of semi-trucks clattering &
whooshing over the great divide
                                                                    which is lone-
someness made stone & wind & a longing for a
home amongst the fog & freight trains

Union Pacific #2

shattered glass sunrise across the Snake River
scarlet broken an osprey’s nest on a phone pole an
aluminum boat a bridge on concrete piers an
                    the sky yellow the clouds gray the
birds black against the horizon in unison
telepathic      purposeful      rippling
shattered glass sunrise
onion skins scattered along the road south of
Annex, Oregon
                                  the Snake River’s
scarlet facets & heartbreak ripples
yellow sky underlined with birds
                                  a phone pole
an aluminum boat I am traveling in various
& contradictory directions west & east a-
cross a shattered river under
                    this shattered sky

Jack Hayes
© 2010


  1. Wow! I love these, John! I somehow missed the first version of Union Pacific #1, but I'm certainly glad to be here. I've said it before about this form you've created, but I want to tell you again how I love the piling on of images that results in a breathless ride and a rush of feeling. Wonderful work.

  2. Hi Karen: Thanks! I do appreciate your kind words & your appreciation!

  3. I like all the clattering and whooshing, the hauling of coal and graffiti.

  4. Good poems. They remind me (I've mentioned him before) of Harry Partch - particularly his US Highball (a journey across the US based on riding trains as a hobo).

    Some of the lyrics are here

    (a great page generally, too!)

  5. Hi Willow & Dominic

    Willow: Thanks!

    Dominic: An interesting site & an interesting set of lyrics. I'm happy to say I've been to most of the towns mentioned in US Highball, including Imlay, NV, which is (in Utah Phillips' words about another western US town) "half a ghost town."

  6. Union Pacific #2, I like what you're doing with the birds - first the image of them "telepathic purposeful rippling", and then the sky underlined with them. Like you're getting glimpses of messages and meaning as you read into the way they fly together.

  7. Hi HKatz: Thanks! I do think the birds are somehow fraught with meaning.


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