Water post

Poems


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Low notes followed
by higher, louder notes]


Look OOOOUT!
Look OOOOUT!
LOOOK!
Look OOOOOOOUT!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Look OOOOUT!
Look OOOOUT!
LOOOK!
Look OOOOOOOUT!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Very slowly,
then faster and faster]


CHUFFS   and   hisses
SQUEALS   and   clanks

CHUFFS and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks
chuffs and hisses
squeals and clanks

Song of the East Broad Top Railroad

      A syncopation for four voices.

Sweet coal-smoke song
of the last narrow gauge
east of the great Mississippi --

Thirty-five miles of three-foot track
from the company's mines
to the coal-washing plant
to the interchange track
and thence to the care
of the mighty Pennsylvania --
standard railroad of the world.

Thirty-five miles of three-foot track
sidings and tiny stations
twists and tunnels and spurs
ballasted all with boney
rocky refuse of the washing plant.

Thirty-five miles for the hopper cars
homemade in strong black steel
for the quaint little boxcars
sporting the road's painted heralds.

Thirty-five miles for the wooden coaches
bought used from a Boston commuter line.
Then they carried the shoppers
and the U.S. mail.
They carried the miners
they carried the lunch pails
up the slopes of Broad Top Mountain
to dig for its clean-burning coal.

Thirty-five miles for six soot-black locomotives
Mikado class, known as Mikes --
Baldwin-built, with the finest in valves,
gearing, superheaters,
and whistles tuned each a notch
above the one before
so the men knew them miles off.

Thirty-six years the youngest Mike worked
till the coal seams gave out.
Nineteen fifty-six -- twilight of steam.
The roundhouse doors closed
the shop men went home
(wrenches hanging unused on the pegboards)
the whole line sold for scrap.
And then -- who knows why? --
the scrap dealer determined
to run trains for tourists
not that there were ever many.

For five short miles of easy track --
out to the picnic grove and back --
the engines were repainted
the careworn coaches cleaned
and the East Broad Top runs yet
50 years past its time
children waving out of caboose windows
grandparents glassy-eyed in recollection
cinders in everyone's hair.

Five miles perfumed
by hot oil and smoke
the swaying, swaybacked coaches groan
just as they always did
flanges of steel wheels
shrieking through tight curves.
The Mikes, long past their prime,
still hiss and clank and chuff
just as they always did
dynamos whining, bells ringing
up through the little yard
through lines of rusting hoppers
over creaking ancient ties
past water columns and listing shops.
Their whistles echo off the hillsides
and their exhausts blast out of their stacks
ripping leaves off the branches above
just as they always did --

Sweet coal-smoke song
of the last narrow gauge
east of the great Mississippi.


November, 2001

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Percussively and fast]

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Rail joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Rail joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Wheels-on-the-joints
Wheels-on-the-joints

Rail joints


Poems page | East Broad Top page | The Biemiller Ice and Coal Co.