Sunday, May 03, 2009

Fear off the Tracks

This morning
I was talking to
A co-worker

About
F-15s and flyovers

And I remembered

Living
In my first
Apartment
By myself
In the mid-90’s.

That first night
After I moved in

I was startled
From deep sleep
By the rumblings
Of a passing
Train.

The tracks were
At the level
Of my window
Across the street

And the engines
Moved fast
Through
There,

Pulling
Screechy and
Poorly maintained
Boxcars
And tankers.

I have lived
Near such tracks
Throughout my
Life,

Both before
And after
The night I was
Jolted awake.

Often
I thought
Of hoboes
And freedom
And coal
And wide open
Spaces

That I had never
Visited.

Often
The sounds
Of movement
Over rails
In the night

And the eerie
Hollow
Of the low
Sustained whistle
Soothed me.

But on this
Particular night
I flashed on my
Childhood
In the 80’s.

For seconds
That could have
Been hours

Or an eternity

I believed that
The Cold War
Had returned

With fire and brimstone
And warheads.

It is odd
To think
That not so long
Ago

Children thought
Of a palpable
And final
Armageddon

Capable of freezing
One’s life forever
Before the
Anticipated pleasures
And rites
Of adulthood.

Children
Reduced to mere
Shadows
On walls.

Now
Modern-day
Cassandras
Speak of
Evil-doers with
Suitcase bombs
And packets of
Unidentified powders.

They warn us against
The next Depression

And inflation,

The collapse
Of the
American
Superpower

And
All our
Consumerist dreams.

They tell tales
About a clash
Of cultures
Based in
Morality and religion

And an ancient land
Returning to its
Biblical borders.

These are
Not
Truly frightful
Prospects

When considered
Next to an arbitrary
Impending
Annihilation for
All the peoples
Of the entire
Earth.

Those twilight
Borderlands
Kept the ten-year-old
Me
In nightmares
That obscured
Daydreams.

And even
Years after
The Wall fell…

Even now

I can feel
That fear

Constricting
My chest

Like that
Cigarette
I lit
After being
Shaken out
Of bed
By an oncoming
Train.

4/29/09

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extraordinary piece of work.
jg

11:42 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Thank you very much.

9:32 AM  

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