The Bottle

Tales From The Rail

Most move with purpose and haste. Others halt briefly to steal glances at their phones, creating congested confusion. The focused however move ahead and instinctively serpentine through the crowded station like ants of a vast army – significant in numbers yet quite invisible at the same time.  The flow and ebb of a winding river, always there and forever repetitious, yet seldom noticed.

He steps from the shadows and into the current flowing out onto the platform. Outside, as the line of waiting passengers builds up before him, he nonchalantly strolls off to the left and stands alone facing the tracks with his back to a large fence.  Behind the fence is an old wooden elevated trailer/office that serves as the station master’s control room.  Within that room, the coordination of all automated track switches and communication with incoming and outgoing trains is solely centralized.  Given this singular choke point…

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All the great hunters that I have been privileged to have spent time with over these many years, share a common thread to their approach and thus to their sporting success. Amidst those cherished times spent together deep in the woods, stalking elusive fowl or gently approaching a slow moving stream populated by a lone sipping trout, it is often in the calm of the quiet that a suggestion is whispered and trust is shared.


Sitting then long ago with my ex-army friend, behind a fallen tree beneath the damp cool canopy of the forest, I saw nothing. No birds, no squirrels, no chipmunks…no deer and certainly no turkeys – just small black annoying flies. It was then, after a sip from our canteen, that I was taught and trust was shared.


He told me in the calmest whisper, to stay entirely still and just wait, observe. The seconds thus accumulated as I breathed softly through my nose so as not to ingests the flies, looking downrange at the stillness before me.


It was like being in a trance, albeit disciplined at first, all senses acutely aware in wait. Suddenly, subtle slight movements in the silence to my left slowly altered the prism to which I viewed …. then again farther down to the right, beyond and near.


My focus shifted now with speed and my eyes danced in a subconscious way as the forest floor before us became all alive with moving life. He besides me lay frozen still, rifle raised and zeroed in on the tiny head of a distant Tom . . .yet he never took a shot.


I stand this evening in wait of the 5:35, leaning still against the station wall in absent reflection amidst the routine confusion and hustle all around me. I am drawn again to the memory of the woods and the revelation of awareness. Here in this crowded station, it looks conspicuously normal and in the minds eye, accepted and possibly even overlooked.


Until it isn’t.


On the far side of the platform four officers have convened, a small huddle with muted urgency. The tallest, a slim officer with sandy hair wearing the stripes of a sergeant and a mustache, is directing the hushed conversation. He has pulled out a sheet of paper to share with the other three. One produces his cell phone to take a photo of the paper while the others study and nod. Two reverse and calmly re-enter the station while one walks my direction stealing glances at his photo as he looks about. The tall sergeant repeatedly swivels his head while speaking left into his shouldered radio. His hand covers his lips as he speaks and I cannot read what he says. I think our eyes make contact but he looks on, after only the briefest pause. I remind myself that I am observing a seasoned observer and look away. Two more officers now move up the platform each holding a folded sheet of paper and enter a boarding train. As they walk by, I can just make out the bold letters reversed in the officer’s hand just above a what appears to be a black and white photo: DETNAW.


Strolling out onto the platform now, I canvas the entire yard. The tall sergeant’s gaze has followed me as he is now speaks on his cell with his right while listening to the radio in his vacant left ear. I am witnessing a subtle sweep operation in search of a fugitive and none around me even seems to notice – bringing my thoughts abruptly back to the solitude of the woods and its silent parallel.


My train now is boarding and an extra officer stands beside the woman checking tickets. Another officer has appeared in the door behind me and walks nearby. I have seen him before and spoken briefly once, when I thought I saw something suspicious. He has a powerful build but a boyish face and an efficient, polite manner about him.  I take the moment to ask: “excuse me sir, do you think it would be helpful to share the picture ? With others . . . the public ?” His alertness is instant and his attention entire. To his hesitation I add: “or perhaps it is too early for that.”   To which he nods and replies: ‘ . . yes, I think it is. . not yet – but thank you.’


As he turns right towards the sergeant and I step straight towards my train, my imagination is spinning the possible scenarios being played out here and they shall consume my thoughts the whole journey home.





Sent from 📞 🚂. . .


© All rights reserved 2019






In autumn’s silent dawn

I am stirred



Troubled with the knowledge of forbiddance

Forbidden ever I am

to awaken you again


Rushing silently to the door

in moon’s half light

I have seen you take flight

I have seen you go


Only to see you go  

See you go


Strong eyes looking to the sky

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes


Last night we knelt with bended knee

deep in our prayer

you said it had to be

squeezed my hand

said all would be fine

in this vast forgiving  land


Tousled my hair

Whispered that all would be kind

and once again fair


Only to see you go

see you go


In hours since past

I have kept that faith

held onto your given strength

Lord I pray

may it last  


Strong eyes looking to the sky

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes


Beyond the meadow’s shadow

that delivers our pathway

from a deep valley floor

I can wait no more


I have run through thick mud

with a spirited glee

Only to see

To see you

once again


My heart burns

I saw you go

I have now seen you return


Strong eyes

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes   


Sent from Rail 📞 . . .


© All rights reserved 2019






Each year around the holidays, various brokers who cover us here at work,  send us token gifts or take us out for lunch. These gifts have become far less frequent now that we trade primarily on the computer screen.   This year in fact, only one gift was distributed to each person on our desk.   It was a woolen blanket, rolled up and packaged to be carried like a lunch box.   It looked warm, efficient and convenient, though not terribly necessary for us on the 11th floor of 1251 Ave of Americas, working in short sleeves for one of the largest banks in the world.   A colleague sitting next to me, frowned in disgust and said: ‘what’s this..?’ and chucked it under his desk.   Another behind me laughed and handed it to a junior assistant (most likely feeling magnanimous while actually being condescending).   I said: ‘well… it IS from Mitsui Fudosan, a broker that we DON’T even use, I think I’ll offer it to some homeless person on the way to the train.’
So, shortly thereafter, I set off to catch my train, remembering to grab the blanket. I was quite certain that I would not need to carry it far, for December 22’nd was one of the coldest days yet, of an already bitterly cold month.   Quite to my surprise, after eight city blocks, I had seen NO homeless panhandlers at all. There were plenty of tourists merrily making their way through the cold but conspicuously absent, were the various homeless shapes I had seen walking to work in the pre dawn stillness. Could it actually be that the city officials have them literally swept off the streets at first light, to hide any unpleasantness from our visiting tourists…? Surely the shelters would not be closed at night and just open during the day.   It made no sense and then it made perfect sense and my heart sank.
For a long moment I stood still on that cold sidewalk, oblivious to those trying to get around me with their bags and strollers.   Then, changing directions, I started walking away from Grand Central.   I could always catch the next train, or the one after that.   I went west and south, weaving through the less crowded city blocks. When the shadows began engulfing all but the highest buildings, I started to resign myself to the fact that I might have to place the woolen blanket in a goodwill bin at the station.   Then, around the corner of a non-descript desolate city street, sat an old African American woman with a frayed pink blanket draped over her slouched shoulders.   She sat on an old plastic milk crate and her feet shuffled softly in the cold.   She had no tin rattling for change, no cardboard sign to display her despair, only one arm hugging the other.   So set back from the sidewalk, almost hidden in the darkness, I almost missed seeing her completely.   When I turned and approached with the Fudosan blanket held out to her, she did not immediately notice that I was there.   Then, after what seemed a long moment, she looked up and she saw the blanket.  Her initial bewilderment quickly gave way to a broad smile and she made a sound as soft as a pigeon cooing.   As I began to turn away, she looked up and our eyes met.   I said: ‘Merry Christmas’ and she held my gaze for a long time.   Her large brown eyes were somewhat misty but clear and penetrating.   I read her lips: ‘thank you’.   I smiled, gave her a thumbs up and headed on my way. 
As I strode to the station, now feeling quite good indeed, I could not shake and cannot to this day from my memory, those penetrating eyes.   It was as if I had looked into the eyes of someone I had known all my life.   In those eyes there was a moment of Peace, comfort, understanding, compassion and clarity.
Several days later, on the evening before Christmas, I told my wife and sons this story, and my wife reminded me that Christ often sees us through the eyes of others and we sometimes, can see Christ in theirs.
May God bless all our families throughout each day and may we never forget how fortunate, we truly are.


A Midnight Ballad


I think I now have a new perspective on the lack of photographs relating to the apparent sightings of Bigfoot, the Sasquatch and Eastern Coywolves.

Just now, a bit past midnight, I was walking our pup and meandered down a desolate and dimly lit lane.

There, watching the shooting stars disappear into crisp cold air, a loud yelping in the marsh to my North shattered all of night’s silence.

Instinctively, as is habit, I retrieved my harmonica began to play a soft ballad from the mountains.

If it was intended to calm the creatures, it did not.

The yelps became barks and then, in my limited hearing … growls!

While playing the C note with my right hand, deftly I retrieved a LED Tac light from my left pocket …

The subtle rhythm of the harmonica rose at once to a powerful crescendo that echoed across the marshland as my light met six brilliant eyes just beyond the reeds.

Fixated, the ballad played on, while a pair of eyes moved slowly to the right, their left, yet their heads most alertly right, never losing the luminous of the light.

One however, was unmoved and glared straight to me – eyes set a foot above the other two and therein possessing a fuse of burning orange and yellow and glinting green.

With ballads end in winter’s breath, a long silence separated our gaze … then at the moment I felt a connection, there was a blink, then two and three.

Invisible, vanished . . . ghosts.

All described here roughly transpired in three plus minutes and thus, in my marvel of our Lord’s creations, I took not a single picture.


Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

© All rights reserved 2018



In dawn’s bitter cold and most blinding wind, a vast cloud thus shrouds the land in grey and there invades and blankets all these rural lands.  

 To the far edges of the fields, there howl a hundred Coywolves, each in cascading echo that carries upward with the swift West wind.   

The Puppy walks with a most tenacious step, looking to his right and far off to his left.  With each measured step towards the altar in the vast open field, his ears and tail drop towards an awaiting acceptance.

Upon the splash of Holy water to his bowed head, there does all howling cease, the clouds part and the winds suddenly dissipate. 

  It is then that the warmth of the sun is revealed. 

  So it was. 





                           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