PORTABLE SOUL

TRAIN ON SAINT LOUIS BAY

TRAVELING, MANITOBA, OCTOBER

AT THE BORDER

ONE CHRISTMAS

OVER HAVERHILL

MAINE





























 
 

TRAVELING, MANITOBA, OCTOBER

 
Descending into Manitoba
prarie earth scarred wound
over wound
rising from the untroubled coma

of dream, which sinks back
scrap by scrap into the rumble
of the great engines they came from,
miles south of Winnipeg.

Two days later: three thin men
stagger in sun
near a bar somewhere near the North End.

Up a staircase in the old brick lodge
once full of Metis halfbreeds
are red potted flowers
shot full of a late October wind.

Voices blurry
behind the Mount Royal Hotel
we sang

down at the Forks where the Assiniboine
and Red rivers converge under cold
fog, the goldeyes fin and roll.

In the French Quarter on Rue Provencal
nobody is around the graves
but an old man with a cane shuffling
up and I only get a little

of what he tells me in French, smiling
about the wind, this day, the brittle
old leaves flying before it.

top   /   next   /   Moongate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

AT THE BORDER

    While your traveling companion is detained by guards
    down a long dim hall. The customs agent leafs
    through your journal. He smells of onions.
    His fingers tap on the counter.
    His head is shaved bald. Outside
    engines power up, screaming. Planes
    taxi and fly.
    He has a radio. They compare your stories.
    Your film and sweaters and pills and underwear
    viewed in this unnatural glare
    may seem dangerous. Who can tell?
    Stopping in your book where you speak
    of a long autumn river trip with your son
    and eagles gauging currents, turning
    high above fall leaves, the agent reads too long.
    He stops
    breathing, blinking
    like one of your mother's instant boyfriends, he says:
    "So, then, travel a lot do you, sir?"
    "Yes, some," you say, "Now. And again."
    And he says "You lucky
    bastard, you."
top   /   next   /   Moongate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 

ONE CHRISTMAS

 Today, luminous road dreams
 leave me cold.
 That old world can spin
 without me for awhile.
 Nothing out on the highway
 for me, just short
 late Christmas afternoon light
 skipping to the far side
 of the street, past last week's
 crime scene tape
 next door. A fat housecat hunts
 on spoiled grey snow
 while wind comes up
 hard, lights in windows
 take flame, chimney smoke floats
 past bare black limbs
 to the darkening sky.
 Miles away, sirens 
 signal a hard season
 somewhere near the river
 where a Greyhound 
 full of tense men 
 in prison-issue shoes 
 think of what they saw from there,
 so high,
 and what they left behind.

top   /   next   /   Moongate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


OVER HAVERHILL
 

 Late afternoon, January, on a bridge
 over the played out skeleton
 of boarded-up industrial 
 Haverhill, Massachusetts:

A bird -- black -- flies, laboring
to carry a smaller, life-
less equally black bird, neck
a-flop, in its claws.

All I'm saying is
this is what I saw
from the train. 

top   /   next   /   Moongate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

MAINE
 
The long southbound train slows to curve
beyond piney woods, through angles
of light on its snow floor
Something out of size within these woods
steps from light into shadow
she's an eclipse on the treeline
on the far side
of that icy, bouldered river
and at that instant 
makes herself 
precisely unseen


autobio:

 I live in Iowa and I love to ride trains alone.
 

top   /   Moongate