Lullaby near the Railroad Tracks
Through the stillness, while you slumber,
They trundle down the track,
Lugging cattle, coal, and lumber,
Crying, “alack, alack.”
It’s cheap to pay the engineer:
The moon’s a shiny dime.
Shut your eyes and you will hear
The Doppler shift of time.
The hour is small. Resume your rest.
Tomorrow will be kinder.
Here comes a freight train nosing west,
Pulling the dawn behind her.
On the Departure Platform
We kissed at the barrier ; and passing through
She left me, and moment by moment got
Smaller and smaller, until to my view
She was but a spot;
A wee white spot of muslin fluff
That down the diminishing platform bore
Through hustling crowds of gentle and rough
To the carriage door.
Under the lamplight’s fitful glowers,
Behind dark groups from far and near,
Whose interests were apart from ours,
She would disappear,
Then show again, till I ceased to see
That flexible form, that nebulous white;
And she who was more than my life to me
Had vanished quite.
We have penned new plans since that fair fond day,
And in season she will appear again–
Perhaps in the same soft white array–
But never as then!
–‘And why, young man, must eternally fly
A joy you’ll repeat, if you love her well?’
–O friend, nought happens twice thus ; why,
I cannot tell!
One Train May Hide Another
By Kenneth Koch
(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)
In a poem, one line may hide another line, As at a crossing, one train may hide another train. That is, if you are waiting to cross The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read Wait until you have read the next line-- Then it is safe to go on reading. In a family one sister may conceal another, So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another. One father or one brother may hide the man, If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love. So always standing in front of something the other As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas. One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe; One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia Antica one tomb May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide another, One small complaint may hide a great one. One injustice may hide another--one colonial may hide another, One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One bath may hide another bath As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain. One idea may hide another: Life is simple Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the laboratory One invention may hide another invention, One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows. One dark red, or one blue, or one purple--this is a painting By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass, These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here. A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it. In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by the mother's And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another love or the same love As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts" Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that" And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve. Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem. When you come to something, stop to let it pass So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where, Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about, The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading A Sentimental Journey look around When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see If it is standing there, it should be, stronger And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at the foot of a tree With one and when you get up to leave there is another Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher, One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass. You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. It can be important To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there. From One Train, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Kenneth Koch.
I am honored today to be nominated by two wonderful bloggers for awards. Pablo Buitrago has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award (that’s my second), and George Weaver, my new most favorite blogger on WordPress, has nominated me for the Liebster Award.
Given the nature of these awards, as they are circulating around the blogosphere, I am going to take the liberty of changing the rules—or, rather, breaking the chain. I am simply going to thank my dear blogging friends for the recognition. I am genuinely touched that they would recognize me in this way.
The Versatile Blogger Award
I have expressed before how much I enjoy Pablo’s blog (http://pablobuitrago365.wordpress.com) and how much I have gained from our interaction. I have noted, through his comments not only on my own blog but on countless others, the great care he brings to the observations he makes about other people’s photography. He is an outstanding photographer whose daily posts display not only his photographic skills, but also the intellectual curiosity he brings to his subjects. I always look forward to his posts, and I’m sure you will, too. Pablo, thank you so much for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I admire the enthusiasm and the wonderful spirit of inquiry you continue to exhibit with each passing day.
The Liebster Award
I was surprised, and I must say, incredibly flattered to be included among the nominees of George for the Liebster Award. It was only just recently that I came upon her blog, and from the moment I read that first post, I knew I had stumbled upon something, or rather someone very special. Her photographs will draw you in before you even read the first word. Then, when you start reading, you’ll discover a voice like none other. The authenticity and originality of her voice seem to permeate her photographs. (How does she do that?!) She tells it like it is, and then some…. From what I’ve seen in the short time I’ve read her, this is a quick-witted, intellectually fearless, utterly charming woman who gets it. There is no one else like her on WordPress. Check her out: http://gweaverii.me/
And now for a few final photographs from my railway adventure. There is nothing special about the photographs, in fact the photos themselves have all kinds of problems (exposure, composition, etc.) but you can’t explore an abandoned railcar without running into some graffiti. What I like about these is imagining the scene on the railcar where these were painted: the railcar is located quite near the women’s college where I teach… These will be the last in my series from this week. I’m getting off the train now. 🙂
I’m not sure what to call these exactly. They’re a sort of grate, I guess (I clearly need to beef up on my railway terminology). I found several of them at various points around the abandoned railcar I visited (yes, I’m still my big rusty adventure: it’s almost over, I promise!). They serve as stepping points between the sections on the outside of the car. I was interested in their shapes, which ended up causing a focal point problem for the photographs because there is no place to “land” really when looking at the images, but I shot them nonetheless…
These images are the first in a series I’ll be posting this week of what for me was a grand adventure to a semi-abandoned (if not totally abandoned) railway. I felt like a kid again (well, I almost always feel like a kid when I’m out exploring) as I was running all over the tracks, practically shouting with glee upon discovery of all its rusty treasures. I took tons of photographs. I’ll try not to post them ALL here, but I’ll post some of my favorites. Today: bolts and screws!