The Train Continues
     Somewhere Tonight As the Train…   - Mike Chaser

Somewhere tonight as the train continues West
a Native living

on a nameless plain
is gathering the dry branches of pinyon

with enough reverence that,
without a match, they will come alive

soon sparks will flare and form the language of fire,
and he alone will read the flame.

And so, working the wood, he wills sticks together
and as he wills them together, at the same time the pinyon ignites

he looks to the East for the train, looks to where
darkness has spread so far

to the East where the train is now coming
out of that darkness

and there are the great puffs of smoke, and there is
the sound of its hot iron wheels

and it is the fire before him which portends
the passengers will watch but not want

his ancient ways

passengers, whose faces press to the pane,
who are wide-eyed….

It will be as before, as it has been for those
who do not stop for the orange lessons of light

that they see
but do not see what he knows, therefore, they cannot understand.


Somewhere tonight as the train moves East
and the West fades slowly into forgetting

somewhere in an undisclosed city, a man is pressing a gun
in a young woman's back.

He is forcing her into an alley, he is rambling on and on of his youth
and of his mother's cruelty and that

it has taken this many years, until now,
this very night, for him to react.

And then he is silent and
the wind is just dark air, but it is not ordinary.

This is what she breathes.

This is what seems to be
almost physically necessary

to fill the young woman's body with something
so wise, she begins speaking

in ways which feel more powerful than she
understands. Words that say

what the gun at her rib could never.

And the young woman
tells him so, she says

those who do not react to their lives
cannot be affected

that what is not spoken
can never become fully alive.


My father drove trains. His two brothers did
and so did my grandfather.

They all shoveled coal into steam engines, they drove
the first electric locomotives

snaking cargo across the East coast

crates of Florida oranges and sweet licorice, back in the days
when boys hid in boxcars

when my father wore overalls, flannels,
the blue and white striped cap

days that would suddenly be gone from him
because of brain damage.


ten, twenty, thirty years
and still we denied what we lived with

denying and still I believe

whenever I hear a train's whistle, that it is the sound
of my father, the words he so needed to share

but was not able to say

always I listen to the voice of a train
as if my father were talking.

Tonight, everywhere, as trains move like snakes going out
in every direction

I think what must be passed and how they keep going

like a life, I suppose,
never attaching itself to what seems hard,

to survive, and how I have yet to settle down,
am without home, like a hobo continuing

my father's belief that
the way of the railroad is the way of the world

nothing, once having arrived, will stay

and what leaves
can still exist at the very old center of our lives.

Therese Halscheid


                                    The weeping
             at least
      allows us someplace to be

and your room is defined.

                        It is what
              keeps us to each other

          the joining force --

for can you not feel what the sky
       has wanted

             its strong pull
                          at your drowsy will

           that draws
your expression up into it.

Lately I have noticed rains, father,
       I have seen your eyes clouded over

               that look of yours,
                          busy elsewhere

               spotting angels.

                                              When at last
                     they fully enter this air
                          for you

I will have almost nothing afterward --

        I will lose that long term
                         of belonging 

                                       to illness.


The idea of a river suffering
from its reflection

intrigues me
and is, I think,

what might happen should you
ever see well enough

to notice yourself, or be given
new eyes --

or the mindflow
to use any breeze

that would force
your mirrored image into action

up out of its murkiness

the damaged
brain, and then

watch how your limbs might take on
a certain kind of fluidity

begin waving me
near you again

calling me daughter

while I cry like high tide
as you continue speaking

in the slow manner
of ancient waters --

that I would want
to wade

to the voice,
father, into your rippling arms.


It is not ever over.

Always, each day,
the quiet light hits,
I am to faithfully hold you

take to my leather skin
what you have become --

the listlessness of the body,

the way you are
no more remembering

and cannot see

the varied sun spots
on the floor
that we are
continually pushed to,
to warm
all your leaning hours.

Still no part of you moves

and I
can do nothing
but at last breathe
at night, with the lights out



Without Home, Therése Halscheid's most recent book,
was published in 2001 by Kells Media Group, Oceanville, NJ.
Her first book, Powertalk, was published in 1995.
Ms. Halscheid's travels have taken her to England, Russia,
Australia, and South Africa, among other places; currently,
she is a Writer-in-the-Schools for the New Jersey State
Council on the Arts.
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