Saturday, March 29, 2008


Rusted railroad tracks
buckle beneath the water tower.

The hard yellow sun
pulls dandelions from a rotting grade.

Breath is shallow, short,
arteries twisted away from ties that bind.

I stutter-step through gravel,
recalling your journey away from the heart.


lluvia said...

I can imagine that very well, it is romantic and intimate

Janice Thomson said...

This reminded me vividly of the San Francisco earthquake the way you used some of your phrases, which in turn really hammered in the impact of this poem. Well done William!

gautami tripathy said...

The poem has a twisted effect like a rope going in and out. Very pleasurable to read.

Geraldine said...

I really enjoyed this poem Billy. It had a lot of depth and a nice rhythm throughout. Well done.

Shameless said...

Enjoyed this Billy, and I see lots in your previous posts that I need to catch up. My internet connection is still down! :-)

Billy said...

Lluvia, thank you!

Janice, I have always been intrigued by small towns and their rusted artifacts. Seemed like a good backdrop for this theme.

Guatami, thanks. Yes--twisting throughout: the tracks, coronary arteries, and the ways of the heart that led the narrator's lover away.

Geraldine, the imagery here, as indicated by the response above, is very compressed, with three levels of "twisting" going on.

Hi Seamus! Good to hear from you again. And I know what you mean. My modem and "company connection" give me a lot of grief. And I'm hopelessly behind in my blog reading.

Lisa said...

The hard yellow sun and the rust and tracks made the stutter step and shallow breath all very visceral. I'm there.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I love the taught emotion in this poem .... each word is perfectly placed. The metaphor of emotional tracks really strikes a cord for me. Peace, JP/deb

Charles Gramlich said...

I've alwasys had soft spot for trains. Very nice imagery.

Geraldine said...

Somehow I posted the wrong comment here re: rhythm;got ahead of myself LOL. I visit so/too many blogs it seems.

I agree re: the thoughts and images being very compressed.This packs a lot of punch into a few lines.

I also have a lifelong love of trains and I am attracted to creative writing that includes them.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I particularly like the juxtaposition of sun and dandelion in this

Billy said...

Lisa, it is indeed a visceral poem about a man's pain. I couldn't have said it better. That "gut" aspect is what I was aiming for, so thanks. I feel validated :))

Deborah, yep, very tight poem without much room to work, but I'm glad the emotional tracks came through. I imposed a word/line limit to force tension into the otherwise simple lines.

Charles, I've loved trains since I was a kid. There's something about the sight of lonely rails heading into the pine forest that really gets me. I still have my Lionel set in the attic.

Geraldine, No need for apology LOL. Despite its compression, I did make the lines rather simple in phrasing to balance things out and give it a sense of rhythm, which I hope is there -:)

Juliet, I polished this up after reading your article on learning from haiku and then shortened the poem to a bare minumum of lines, hoping that the track metaphor would still come through ... so I have to thank you for reminding me to be economical and make every word count. -:)

bleeding espresso said...

Love the imagery. The train tracks and all the rot, the pulling, tugging, and twisting, and finally that stutter step--throwing everything off rhythm. Beautiful.

Jo said...

For a very short poem it packs a big punch. Great imagery and so emotive. Lovely piece.

SandyCarlson said...

I often walk tracks in search of graffiti. Your images conjure the experience exactly. Stutter stepping is a difficult gait. You captured this empty way out of the heart can be so painful.
Writing in Faith: Poems

Raven said...

Beautiful as always, visceral and taut in a way that conveys the pain of "arteries twisted away from the tie that binds." You writes good (that is intended as a reflection of how literate I feel in the face of your work, not a comment on the work).

SnoopMurph said...

You do create such visuals in your words and I also can hear the stutter-steps in the gravel. So glad that Raven has introduced me to your writing-I enjoy stopping by.

qualcosa di bello said...

i can feel a summer heat with a landscape of browning grass & the sound of locust in the trees...all in your words. they pulled me right into that place.

Lana Gramlich said...

There's something very desolate about this one. It makes me want to go out in the woods.

ChristineEldin said...

I've been thinking about doing a post on railroads lately. I had a writing exercise on railroad hobos a long time ago.
I love this topic.
Very nicely done.

Billy said...

Thanks for visiting, Michelle. I like to write about rural or run-down things--things that only have faded footprints left.

Jo, thanks. I'm trying to work in very short stanzas to see what effect I can achieve in as few words as possible.

Sandy, as I told Michelle above, I like to focus on old things, like old shops or rusted farm equipment and such, things fallen into neglect--much like your interest in graffiti. There's a story in all of these things. Each has something to say.

Raven, aw shucks, you're way too kind -:)) You're an awfully good poet!

Linda, glad you picked up on the auditory component of this one with the stutter and the gravel. Thanks!

Qualcosa, yes--that's exactly the landscape I was envisioning. Thanks!

Lana, I think desolate is yet another good way to describe this. The narrator is very lonely and hurt ... and isolated.

Christine, not only do I like railroads, but I wrote dozens of poems many years ago about hobos and indigents--the underbelly of society that most never never see.

TomCat said...

Interesting. Does the decay of the scene reflect the state of a romance?

Lane said...

Eight lines that encompass the desolation of loss perfectly.
'Buckle' and 'twisted' combined with 'hard sun' paint a searing picture of a warped but mourned past.

I love track metaphors - but then I would:-)

Thanks for taking the time to read my bits and pieces btw:-)

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

I love every line of this!!

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Great. I love the impact of the weight, the heat and the emotional asphyxiation.

raine said...

Love the rail imagery, the twisted ties, the memories. Quite wistful, very fine, William.

Billy said...

TC, yeah--this is about a man recalling the love of his life heading out of town (and his life) for good.

Lane, you're most welcome. I loved your fiction.

And maybe there is, in a sense, blood on these tracks. The narrator is, as you point out, totally desolate.

btw, "Buckle and Twisted" sounds like the name of a fine olde English shop hiding somewhere on a side street. Some kind of haberdashery shop that sells belts and men's accessories -:)

Andrew, thanks. One of these days I'll have to get back to haiku or tanka.

Julie, I've really loved seeing the phrases used to describe my humble poems. "Emotional asphyxiation" is another perfect way to describe this one. Thanks!

Raine, thanks a bunch! Much appreciated.

TomCat said...

Good. Then I understood. Nicely done.

jason evans said...

I grew up near railroad tracks and played there. You captured that hot, gravelly feel. It was a nice engine for the metaphor.

Billy said...

TC, you got it :)

Jason, many thanks!

Beloved Dreamer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beloved Dreamer said...

Oh, you are so good. Simple verse that such fullness.
Beautiful words and images. I reminds me of a song by Van Morrison called "It's A New Day"( I think??).
Next to you, I know that I have a long way to go.


Bernita said...

Dandelion is a perfect touch.
I especially like stutter-step because the distance between ties does not nmake for easy walking.

Billy said...

Lanie, you are too kind. I think I remember that song. Thanks!

Bernita, you picked up on the relationship between the stutter-step and the ties. Thanks. -:)