END OF THE LINE

 

 

                                           

 

                                                   END OF THE LINE

 

On the penultimate stop, where the tracks thin in the vast darkness of the cold northern border, a man steps aboard in a swirl of misting rain and snow – wearing a swagger that carries his wide brimmed hat and rattle snake boots to the empty seats of four.  Before sitting, he looks aft and smiles to the darkened empty car and gently removes his guitar from his back.   

As the train moans through the steep ascents and accelerates through the coniferous forest valleys, the man begins to strum.  The soft acoustic rhythm that is carried above the rattling of the frozen tracks awakens however, none who sleep.    It is the words from his soulful lips, in those next many miles that left a lasting image and so did resonate….

‘Oh my dear and so precious one 

know here and hear me now 

how His was the hand

that caught me when I fell 

Seemed forever just to say

that all would be well 

all would be well

all would be well

The Lord’s plan my darling it didn’t have to be mine 

such was just the way with the mighty Divine

All the way to the end of the line 

to the end of the line

the end of the line

end of the line

 

In the end his battle, well

that couldn’t be won

His body riddled

weary and worn

an inner strength

still did exist

refused and could never be torn

All the way to the end of the line 

to the end of the line

the end of the line

end of the line

 

These years now well

they’ve come and past so damn fast

I can’t sometimes even barely look back 

Just doing my best

to stay on close to the track

All the way to the end of the line 

to the end of the line

 

So within these strong weathered hands, 

born upon this vast and toiled land

I hold these leathered reins

 

Oh Lord you know

there’s a strength to be found 

in these veins

All the way to the end of the line 

to the end of the line

 

Come now then my son

come on and take my hand

come take my hand

Let’s keep riding on through our given night 

and cross that river to a higher ground 

Leave these here dry’n tears

never to be found

Let a cold rain cleanse this pain 

forever from our souls

exhaust its very existence

from our sight

All the way to the end of the line 

to the end of the line

 

Come this dawn’s awakened arrival 

we shall

we shall again once say

we knew

we knew

that all would be well 

all would be well

 

Darling my dear 

and so precious one 

know right here

hear me now

that this ain’t no end of the line 

Son, this ain’t the end of the line 

this ain’t no end of the line

ain’t the end of the line.’

 

Baby, this ain’t no end of the line 

this ain’t the end of the line

ain’t no end of the line

ain’t the end of the line. . . ’

 

 Sent from Rail 📞 . . .

 

© All rights reserved 2018

 

TIME ON THE WATER

 

In my travels, some have asked:  ‘why do you fish when often there are no fish?     Why do you walk those long trails of sand to fish all the skinny waters and vast swollen estuaries, only to fail?’

To which I pause, reflect and reply:

Fail?  No, not fail.   For standing before a shimmering sea with ones back to the land, all existence tends to fade into a timeless moment that knows no past nor future – just the time in your hand.   It is above all others, the nourishment of the soul and it is time on the water.”

 

Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

© All rights reserved 2018

RECONCILIATION

 

     They enter and have sat separately on opposing sides of the aisle,  yet clearly they are together.  He is taller than she.  He wears a beige ball cap on top of his shaved skull advertising NYC – likely bought on 34th and 7th.   She carries a light duffel over her right shoulder atop a grey sweatshirt and wears tiny red sneakers.  Her manner is thoughtfully efficient and I suppose this is by intent.  Once situated, she adjusts her dark glasses and readjusts her short raven black hair.  

     She is upset.  

     If this is seen at all by the man now seated in the opposite aisle wearing what appears to be a kasaya type robe, it is only by the windows reflection as he stoically stares  out.   

     The miles pass as the Eastbound accelerates onward and with each passing minute with less tasks to attend to, her frustration builds.   He meanwhile continues to nonchalantly stare out his window.   

     By the third stop with the car filling up, she looks sharply his way, slowly back up to the ceiling, then quickly grabs her duffel and takes the seat next to him.  
His head adjusts slightly left to avoid the peripheral and stares absently upon an unseen passing land. 

     After a long spell she leans in and begins to speak in his direction.   I surmise her words are of some northern Mandarin dialect, of which I understand little but on occasion, have pretended to speak with fluency.   It is now more the inflection of her voice, her turn of the shoulders and gestures of the hands that assist my observation and summarizes my deductions.  
She speaks in the measured tone of one thoughtful, sympathetic and while apologetic, quite practiced at driving her point home.   

     I am impressed.  

     He is respectful not to ignore her and neither raises a hand to stop nor refuse his ear.   He nods often and when he shakes his head and stares left out the window murmuring words I cannot hear in a language foreign, she pauses for reflection.  

     Back and forth does this transpire that I am unaware of several voice mails missed.   When I have looked back, he has turned to her and his eyes are moist with emotion.   She reaches to his hand and when clasped, he leans in and they warmly embrace as the train slowly pulls into the station.  

 

Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

 

© All rights reserved 2018

Arrival From Departure

 

in the footless halls of air

all became clear

though mist and fog

muddled the slog

a streaking star at once illuminated

the half light and albeit brief

gave towards sight

of everlasting relief

 
with cupped hands and strained neck

each stroke furthered distance from the wreck

darkness given way to grey

such must be the way

 
onward upward onward

tumbling over thin crisp air

departure from all despair

vertigo lost in the sanctity of time

punching through into

the brilliance of the Divine

 

 
Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

 

© All rights reserved 2018

BITTEN

 

He walks at a labored pace and those that pass him on this busy platform do so with neither a glance nor a nod. 

His clammy palms subconsciously hold grip to a leather briefcase, to prevent its slip.

His damp shirt beneath his blazer, selected just hours before with dawns awakened optimism, now restricts his gait and thus disguises his youth.   

 
                                    He has been bitten.  

 

Eight tiny legs, one very small bite …  yet possessing one heck of a powerful punch.    

Sliding into his seat, the conductor twice assists him in finding his ticket and at once brings him water.   

The dreams while the Northeast Regional carves through Summer’s splendid land are medieval, violent and punctuated with the glorious. 

Stepping off the rail, his fever’s first wave having just passed, he sucks the cool salt air deep into his lungs while giving the conductor a fatigued wave as he steps into the light.  

The Turkey

 

 

His chin is raised and his head cocks left,up,right and down as he loudly yelps instructions in a raspy tone from a head that appears smaller and younger than his older overweight frame.

A wild turkey, often seen in my back yard, is the first thought that populates my distracted attention.

Three women have chosen the four seats in front and he has instinctively sat forward and quite proudly yelped: ‘those are ONLY for families of four . . .’ Left, up right and down…

To which the fifty something year old woman with a pleasant mid western drawl replies: ‘yes, we see that . . . and our father is joining us with our luggage. . .’

Into the following pecking silence . . . 

I hear my voice slowly reminding the Turkey that: ‘. . .and in fact, this is a Quiet Car. . . ‘
Pointing to the sign as the train rolls out.

 
Sent from 📞 🚂 . . .

A Tale from the . . .

 

Work this cool late June day was slow and I have headed over to the station early. My phone is almost dead and with twenty minutes or so to kill,   I find a plug outlet in a soon to be closed vacant food court, in an adjacent lobby by the station.  Standing by the window, waiting on the charge, I see my conductor in his usual spot outside by the corner of the station having his daily routine smoke.  On second glance however, today is quite different as besides him is a tall slender young brunette woman, also enjoying a smoke in her free flowing Summer blue dress.  It is immediately out of place to me as they stand too close.  

He has turned towards her and must have said something for she throws her head back in laughter, her right heel rising as she does so.  He stands in front of a tree, so I cannot see his face, just his back; his heavy rail bag stuffed with papers, stubs and large keys sitting on the ground and of course, the exhale of smoke.  She is to his right and I see just the left side of her tanned face from roughly a hundred feet.

It is twenty minutes to general boarding now but it is almost his pre-boarding time.  He begins to extinguish his cigarette on the ground while turning to look down at his bag. She says something and has as quick as wind through an open door, fluidly produced another two cigarettes and moves in a step closer.  Behind the tree I can just see his broad turned shoulders hesitate, check his watch and gently shrug.  She leans in now, further than necessary, for him to light hers first.

A small pit has unknowingly formed in my stomach. I have ridden daily for almost a year with this conductor and know more about him than he likely suspects.  Know that he rode freight for over thirty years down south and heard him offer frequent tales of that rugged and weathered life . . . little bits here and there – often only just as the train slowed into the station as he would calmly open the steel door manually with his large leather hands, speaking over the wind.  Stuff like slamming into a flock of birds at great speed and choking right there, in the hot dark engine car, on their feathers: ‘cause our side windows were wide open to that oppressive Georgia humidity . . .’ Heard lore that you might find only in old books, stuff like: ‘a train really only stops when it wants to stop. . .it really only does.’  I know that he did a stint in Desert Storm where it was 110 degrees before 8am . . .I know that he has only one and a half years left before his long awaited pension. Then, it’s fishing and hiking upstate everyday with his loving wife of thirty-nine years. His kids are long grown up, moved on and ‘scattered about here and there, much like these tracks, in all different directions . . ‘  He has six adorable grandchildren, and another on the way.

Now, in the half light of the station, he and this stranger continue to puff away, he a bit faster than her.  Their body language from this distance suggest modest small talk.  She has turned to touch the bark of the tree behind them and seems to ask if he knows its name.  He looks up to the branches in reply and I am only then able to read her impressed lips: . ’really . .?’ She reaches for her phone, indicates a call, to which he nods and checks his watch.  It is almost time for general boarding . . he is 10-12 minutes late.

He too now pulls out his cell, to check missed rings or texts.  Her call is quick and she has turned and gestured to him in an animated quickness.  He looks her way, somewhat distracted and listens.  She points to the right, across the canal and stretches from her ankles in an almost exercising excitement.  He listens on and too points across the water, as if in question.  He is talking now, points down to his bag and gestures to his watch.  She regains the narrative and it is then that my heart sinks as I realize this is a pitch of sorts – a party across the canal, ‘just a short distance. . . my friends waiting, fun . . .there’ll be another train’ . . .or to my worry, worse. She points to a waiting cab and then to her phone, as if to suggest: ‘an Uber’ !. . .

 

I realize now, from my watching distance, that in the next seconds he should nod, pick up his bag and join her, the title of this unfolding story shall most definitely be:

                                                       DERAILED

It is now the general boarding call and I unplug the charger and begin to pack my belongings.  When I look back, they are gone from the spot . . . and then I see him in brisk stride towards our train, heavy bag and all.   She meanwhile has moved up the street and is on her phone, staring out to the street with her hand upon her hip, as if conveying to friends or reporting in . . to whomever has answered.

Walking with a relieved smile out to the train now myself, I make a mental note to rename the title of this Tale and more importantly, to be sure I place it at the bottom, so as to preserve for long as possible, its ending:

 

                           STRONG and STEADY as the RAIL

                                       

                                                                             

                                                                             Sent  from📞 🚂…

 

 

© All rights reserved 2018