Thursday, June 17, 2010

Union Pacific #3 & #4

OK, so this is the week of me pre-empting things! I know I’d promised to post another Musical Snafu story, & don’t worry: I will do that soon. But in the meantime, these two newest poems in the slowly continuing Union Pacific series were “burning a hole in my pocket,” so to speak, so here goes.

Hope you enjoy them.

Union Pacific #3

All moments past are skating along the blacktop the
white timothy grass in the headlights the exhausted
patches of March snow granular along the shoulder the
stark abrupt eruption of a great horned owl from the
pasture grass a looming ghost in the headlights
                in other time zones friends already in
the midst of it
                I’m trying to reach them thru the wisps of
fog along the Weiser River the red iron canyons the
luminous guardrail the great horned owls eruption all
moments past skating along the
                                                      blacktop high tension wires
massed over the trailer houses & bare
locust trees
        in other time zones in other times
distance the wheels can’t cover skating a-
long the blacktop all these ghosts e-
        rupting out past the headlights

Union Pacific #4

Snake River sunrise thru cross-hatched
            locust branches
                                          a glint off
the steel bridge a glint of power lines the
Union Pacific headlight 15 miles back the
junkyard’s weathered wooden fence
a 1950’s Chevy marooned along the
              Payette River bird sanctuary south-
east of cliffs exploding at twilight into swallows
              except it’s dawn now can’t you see it
salmon-flesh sunrise above the
              Snake River I’m crossing & crossing
again the salmon-flesh mosaic waters
              rippling under power lines I am
driving east out of foggy night the
moon traveling east after moonset under-
neath the world the
Union Pacific headlight I
              want to go home on the morning train

Jack Hayes
© 2010


  1. Beautiful, John. I love that you're writing again. I especially like "exploding at twilight into swallows".

    Dub-ya Tee's grandpap was an old Union Pacific man.

  2. you captured the intensity of very strong feelings and images, points in time, recurring cycles and yearnings

    I can feel it

  3. Hi Willow: Thanks! That's interesting about WT's grandfather being a railroad man.

    Dianne: Thanks so much--so glad you liked it.

  4. These are great.

    I loved especially the opening line of All moments past are skating along the blacktop

    and then in the second one, "the salmon-flesh mosaic waters" and "cliffs exploding at twilight into swallows"

    (these poems could translate well into short animated films full of texture and color)

  5. Hi HKatz: Thanks! Your idea of an animated film is interesting. Eberle really wants to set these to music.


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