Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On the Rail

Pulled this older piece up to share at The Mag #185.

I love the sound
of trains…

the “whoosh-shhhh”
as the brakes disengage
the “chuh . . .chuh . . .chuh . . .”
as those pistons start
moving, slowly picking
up speed, hear the
clickety-clack, clickety-clack
as steel rolls against steel.

Watching farmland,
small towns,  cities
roll by; a shared
communion with
travelers fifty,
a hundred
years ago.

Coal cinders have
given way to
polished wood,
velvet and brass           
to steel, vinyl
and chrome.

My uncle was
a trainman;
riding the rail
is in my blood.
In the distance,
I hear that
lone whistle

my heart quickens…

“Aaaall aboaardd!!

© Ginny Brannan September 2011
Train Station, my hometown Bellows Falls, VT

Rockwell Image shared by Tess Kincaid, she provides the image, we the story. 

Originally shared at dVerse Poetics, 2011: Sorry I missed the Train_n_n_n_n  with Claudia on Poetics this past weekend. 


  1. I like this a lot...memories in verse. I remember the train making its stop in the tiny town where I grew up. For just a few minutes while passengers loaded and unloaded the town thrived...once it departed it went back to sleep.

  2. Excellent use of onomatopoeia! I love trains, too. This is written with a joyful pen. Beautiful.


  3. nice...i miss trains as well...have traveled only twice by train...the old kind not trams and subways, plenty of those...i have an old rail man's pocket watch given me by my grandfather...

    1. ha i was about to comment and it would have looked identical....i grew up by the trains and loved their sounds...

  4. I like the sounds made by trains too.... if it's in the distance at night and not right in front of my car while I'm trying to get my kids to the next destination! Glad you jumped on board with the train prompt... nothing wrong with being the caboose! =) Good write Ginny.

  5. @ Susie. Our station was like that. For anyone who's ever seen"White Christmas" VT really used to be the Stars winter playground. Many passed through our little rail station on destinations north.

    @Beth, thanks. Some prompts really do inspire the pen!

    @ Brian, what a wonderful treasure, that watch--a wonderful memory from your grandfather. I'm with you, I prefer a real passenger train to a subway any day. Many years ago my hometown was home to "Steam Town" a rail museum for steam trains, and the Green Mt. Railroad still runs through there.

    @ Patricia, Thank you. I have no problem being the caboose!

  6. oh that is so cool that you shared a train poem with us - I enjoyed it. Hey, I just redecorated my blog and picked the same background as you have here - great minds, huh? ;) hope you are well.

  7. You really took us on the rails, with your train crossing, very much enjoyed going down the tracks, nice!

  8. A very enjoyable trip back through time. From a train, you observe a much different journey than from a car. I love trains and travel on them as much as I can.

  9. I love trains and was going to write a poem on trains but in the end I just could not do it justice like you have done. You really make this come alive and I got lost on my words when trying this one congrats on such a wonderful poem on trains

  10. Wonderful story, I love trains too, but have never traveled here in the states on one... You said something in your poem that struck me very strongly because I think about these things often and I don't think I've ever told any one this. You referred to yourself and others who have ridden that train over the last centuries a "communion of travelers..." Those things haunt my thoughts all the time... I stood in a graveyard in Germany once, barely could make it out but I saw the year 1223 marked on a weathered headstone, and the only thing I could think of was how the hundreds and maybe thousands of others who walked by that same spot might have viewed this headstone. Did they stop at it as I did? Did they look at it or even give it a glance? That the 750 years separating me and this poor demised soul were things like the Magna Carta, the Great Inquisition, the great adventures of Marco Polo. The rise of the United States. Witches burned in Salem and this headstone sat here quietly. Two painfully horrific world wars passed by, and here in this little corner of sweet serenity sat an unaffected, lost and forgotten tombstone, not 10 miles from Rommel's Panzer Kascerne. I once stood in Abraham Lincoln's house in Springfield and could only imagine how he viewed his own home. What did he think of his wife's wallpaper? What did he think of his wife? What did his eyes see? I scraped a few chips of paint from Mark Twain's childhood home and wondered if he had ever whitewashed that spot as a child, maybe with a brush and bucket similar to the ones Tom Sawyer used to whitewash the fence in his book..... These are the little things that seem to take over my thougts sometimes and I was just really happy to see that concept of human communion phrased in your lovely poem, "On the Rail."

    1. John - I think the above comment is amazing fodder for a poem!

  11. enjoyed going down the tracks with you :)

  12. train travel, and this poem are magical.

    My husband is a model rail-roader and we've had some great times over the hobby.

    Took a 6-hour train trip to Nova Scotia's Wentworth Valley with my grandmother when I was 6. It changed me forever, in a good poetical way!

  13. very fitting piece to train.

  14. Oh, such fun. I am also a lover of train rides, trainspiration... you name it train related. My Grandfather and all six of his brothers worked for the railroad.

    I found your poem today via Magpie Tales & am so grateful I did!

    If you care to read my Magpie Tales inspired poem, visit here.

    Enjoy your poetic day!

  15. Hi, I'm your neighbor on Magpie Tales. This is beautiful. I love riding trains and this brought back so many memories of me going down to see my parents.


  16. English steam trains used to frighten me when I was little - the noise, the smell, the great pistons - sheesh!

  17. Great! You made a story and brought back to mind memories of an ear long lost to us here in South Florida.

    WELL done!

  18. Wonderful, wonderful. I love their sound also.

  19. Sorry I missed this first time around, for I too have loved trains my entire life ... can't recall a place I lived I couldn't hear the mournful sound of a train whistle. Nighttime and early mornings, my favorite.

  20. I am reading your lovely poem as I ride on a train going from Vancouver BC to Portland Oregon

  21. nicely done.....I travelled by train many times from late 40s to early 60s....wonderful

  22. Oh mine, too, Ginny...lovely write...

  23. I took piano lessons next to a train station. Quite the cacophony in that neighborhood...


Thank you for reading my poetry and sharing your thoughts.