Thursday, August 5, 2010

Union Pacific #8

Fragile white sky
            electric wire scars a
black crow scratching grit in frozen
gravel a black guitar case a
            nickel chrome guitar inside it my
                    lungs white fragile scarred &
shattering in ice the sky will shatter
            someday but perhaps not this morning it’s
                    19 degrees in Rawlins Wyoming
the massive frozen creak of Union Pacific
cars inching along the siding un-
                    certain atavistic yellow a
black backpack a black baseball cap a
pair of clip on sunglasses the
            slivers of grass white &
broken across the embankment below the
            siding the sky doesn’t
shatter I’m short of breath the
            car’s loaded I’m going back some-
place I’ve never been the petrified
freight cars & locomotives hulk   
            waiting but the white sky won’t
shatter we will
            say goodbye
            say goodbye
            say goodbye

Jack Hayes
© 2010

[To see other poems in this sequence, please click on the "UP Poems" label]


  1. Great! It kind of crescendos when you read it aloud. Gave me goosepimples.

  2. Hi Dominic: Well, thanks so much! Glad it worked.

  3. I hear Wheezing as the journey unfolds! Vivid Words & Images John.

  4. Love the Ginsburg/Kerouac cadence!

  5. Hi Tony & K: Thanks--glad you both liked this.

  6. nickel chrome guitar inside it my
    lungs white fragile scarred &
    shattering in ice the sky will shatter

    I paused to take a breath after reading these lines, almost to check as if my own lungs weren't frozen.

    The repetition of 'say goodbye' I also found effective - not just as a train rhythm, but something that suggests a voice growing quieter and more breathless with each repetition.

  7. Hi HKatz: I often lose my breath reading my own poetry! So it goes. The "Say goodbye" lines are complicated in my own imagination--glad to hear they worked for you.

  8. Wonderful, John, but sad at the same time.

  9. Hi Karen: Thanks--there seems to be no escaping the fact that the UP Poems, for the time being at least, are taking a sad tack.


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