Sunday, April 24, 2005

Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train (Part II.1)

II. A Long Stop-over on the Far Side of Ashtabula

Billing Mont. In a room in the Stillwater Hotel
for some months. Little change in the weather.
In the park the last crimson callas are in shreds,
by the pond the children are sailing their toy boats.

Ho! Bravely the bark leaves land and is suddenly becalmed.
In the mauve amusement arcade the tall sailor is drifting.
San Diego 10:30 AM the main drag is deserted.
By the municipal incinerator a stray dog barks.

Yankton N.D. the liberty Hotel 1936. From here south
a wide triangle through Alma, Hutchinson, Enid & Blyth Ark.
There are 500,000 sq. mi. of mixed silage. We are marooned in legumes.

From Lubbok to Port Arthur there are 1200 linear miles of plank steak.
The wet deck of the trawler is slippery with sardines.
Abilene: we are adrift in a sea of lettuce. Between the horizons
the stars shine in congeries of fine dust.

Las Cruces New Mex. the Artesia hotel. The ball scores
fall on the deaf ears of a group of Crow Indians.
In the lobby the fan blows damp heat
over the adams apple of retired railway men.

A long day at Twin Forks August 1927
My father is too old to shoot craps with the colored janitor.
Under the cottonwoods, the band blows Sweet Sue
SWEET SUE into the afternoon the color of iced tea.

--from Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train, by Robert Nichols (City Lights Books, 1962)

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