“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight” Dylan Thomas.
. . .The North Carolina fog scratched its way across the outline of the dogwood trees which surrounds the Aberdeen Carolina and Western Aberdeen Star rail yard. It is here that I’ve been waiting patiently for a new engines arrival to tow me back to the California coastline, back to where the sparkling sun will reflect off my silvery aluminum skin, defrosting some of the chill I’ve experienced here from this years cold but fruitful winter. The tree lines here follow the tracks and can be sparse or as thick as thieves depending on where the wet sky graces them. Local crickets can be heard clicking along the tracks as the railcars make their way to Isaac Hunters Tavern, while the little clicking sounds leap into the moist air as the steel railcars click in cadence over the top of them on their way back to the lumber and tar scented rail yards, these many singing crickets seem to want to join into the newest chorus of songs of the Hennen’s rail yard jamboree.
The dogwood branches hang over the tracks like a cathedral as the train cars nose their way through the arboretum tunnel trees hoping to catch a whiff of the old cloths of the first explorer here, Sir Walter Raleigh himself. The younger tree's branches appear as young men arms embracing the miracle of the south, while sweeping clean the railcar tops from foreign debris with their wide sweeping virtue that hang directly from their knowledge of the past. The young railcars are continuing on their way to newer and much brighter destinations eventually. The sap of the old oak trees here in the Carolina mountains that understand it is only with age and nothing else that trees know as they mature recognize when the proper season is for shedding leaves or holding onto them. Those trees that shed their leaves before the cold seasons find they create little resistance and are much more capable to fight the onslaught of coming winter rain, snow and all the future stormy weather that lye before them.
Time has always proved to be the best teacher to dogwood trees, oak trees or dogwood flowers and yes, even the railcars. We have all found as time abounds that the young think they’ve learned the lessons of life, but as the sunsets of life grow like a late
afternoon shadow we begin to realizing that indeed we are not sure what we know, it may be the “all things being equal conundrum” but it’s in the latter point of years that we realize we know very little to nothing about what we were dam sure we knew before. The conundrum being that we must learn to know nothing, less than we did at twenty, much less than at forty, even more than less at sixty, or eighty, and every year until the century flame ignites and only then when it is near the point of being extinguished, that’s is when age has this magi visitation or an epiphany of explosions from our years of completion, and finally the grey aged get a chance to steal the sun from the young and bask in the flickering shine of wisdom. All this while dancing in the glorious bond fires of brilliance before the fire subsides and the bones of that epiphany are burnt to charcoal, to be used by the next fire maker. A verbal version of life’s tunnel effect, dark, then light, then dark faster and faster until focus can no longer be found, faster that a steam engine can drown the water it’s taken down.
Most the box cars in the yard are painted in red with the exception of mine, I was born silver because I was built by Amtrak passenger car division, and I was created specifically for collection of metaphoric traveling midnight vision of explorers with an adventurous seed on passion growth willing to help bloom and search for songs written within someone else’s words. In short, “I am not the writer- I am the igniter for the lighter of the fire” A kind of exploration muse if you will, hoping small fires I set, will ignite out of control rage thus helping to turn the key of your needs such as love, anger, disappointment, rejection, and especially those feelings of inadequacies. For in these moments of hate, dissatisfaction, dislike, robust enlightenment and a trove of other feelings, I hope to set free your raging fires that turn your words hot enough to set red to the pig iron of the tracks inspiring a long smooth heat flow rolling out ahead of you on your way to new and wordy ventures. I am not a writer, I’m the igniter, I am the lighter, a lighter for paper and for computer fires; sometimes my railcar can create an immense amount of heat capable of creating word fusions in your hottest of dreams. Sometimes I pull into a small town like this and find an abandoned railcar waiting for something different but do not know what it is their waiting for. For this railcar I will douse them in hot, angry, non illuminating hopelessness pissing steam on their dreams and igniting a whole new explosion of sounds, or I may give them those words of encouragement that will create the only missing piece to their crossword puzzle, courage. The courage to realize nothing can stop them once the wheels begin to roll, just like a railcar, I search out that special kind of someone who can fly with the hummingbirds, and also with the black dragonflies of industry. Why you may ask, why yes you may! It’s an insurance policy of further breeding on scented raptures. It is just that simple. The world requires the blood of words bleeding within the suffering souls, these penetrate millions and billions of us in on our blue cat eye marble. This blood letting from the blood sap tree is in service to our domain and must be repeatedly cut in order to create the new un-seen colorful worlds penned by these poets. When I originally pulled into the Raleigh area (my last scheduled stop) I remember thinking how wonderful it would to be young again like these rail cars running these traveling twisting rails as the spread train toes clear the virgin paths along the fat trees lines of oak trees in this James Taylor Carolina. (Listen to it, listen to what the train hears; how the red fertile female ground that staple down the steel guides of verse and emotions to the earth as they smooth over the king of the hill crowns and mounds, jewelry of words clinging to the sweet cuffs of poet tales and word whales leaping into this burning sunlight) If only I was still young enough for traveling through and around the dogwoods and over the wild flowers that sprinkle a sunburst of wild color amongst the track stamped soil. God wouldn’t that be great! For the soil here seems to hold the earths breathe down against the rich red living mouth of the land, suckling the air into its forever living green jetting forest. Here where I hoped to find the friendly faces of ancient family tree roots of the Tuscarora still anchored along the back roads and tracks of rural America, in this thick grey war stained soil of old traditions. And it is here on the eastern shoreline of the Atlantics that I have found a true wonder of bliss in this trip for the singularity; a stained glass window where the poets from different nations have collided in what I can only describe as a colorful bouquet of writers who understands that searing moving messages are derived from ones own inner beauty found in a quick glance at the total mass obtained in their own jewelry. Here in this inner beauty is the “only” place on earth where words are stronger than actions and can be bent to hurl, heal, or to find heaven or hell, truth or injustice, depending on the integrity or corruption of the enlightened word disciple.
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Now that I have removed my dumb suit from the passenger caboose car and my time has yawned out before me here in these wetlands of words, my mission exposed, I want to praise the two fiery engines that pull the trains of pretty painted red box cars throughout these lands of the Aberdeen star line, whom have indeed bared truth to these beliefs of mine, that there are still noblemen in the world seeking truths and guidance for others, before their own hopes are realized they lay down their nap to dream so that others one day will paint pictures of words as wonderful as Chagall, Rembrandt, Picassos, Renoir and hopefully even a Van Gogh for me. Oh so extremely proud we should be that to have known of these two train engines. I have also postured myself under this developing forest providing acceptance to those who bare themselves in the light of nudity.
I’m a true believer that throwing ice cubes on fish won’t save them from drowning. The tracks of life go on with or without us, so we might as well polish the shiny new railcars, let them pass, let the sun catch them and burn their freshly painted red flame skin to a glowing amber fusion fire as it once did ours, for in this sacrifice of understanding and patience and praise above all else, can teach a student to become the teacher, and the teachers to become the professor, and the professor to become humble. An equal trade on this wonderful grade called life. Train maintenance will always be required to keep the new railcars in tip top shape but serious overhauls can sometimes be more costly than beneficial. Until fame finds our iron wheel turning down these famed tracks, let us try to live out our rail life by keeping our wheels well greased so they turn the words freely feeding the moon to the sun in order to create new bursting stars. A lot of newer railcars were not staged at the station long enough to develop a sense of direction. New railcars coming into the station need to park long enough to let the wisdom of the local J&H Steam Engine shape the souls of these cars. In fact I’ve noticed so many railcar windows are now empty as if they have come and gone railing off to some far away dreamland destination, maybe their windows were fogged and did not see what just passed them by. Maybe its the lunatic inside my head, but here under the cleansing fog of these dogwoods the J&H Steam Engine that pull these trains up the hard grades not only achieve an almost craftsman perfection to the trip, but also give the tracks a shiny and true alignment in an already difficult rail business, and the red box cars well, these little painted ladies as they ascend into freedom while climbing these nearby hillsides attached with honor to these engines, help to pull with them the flatbed bunch allowing earths wind to blow through their woven wooden earthy slats sending a wonderfully exquisite serenade of water songs between the tracks and spilling out on the countryside while drenching the thirsty community flowers.
This week however, I’m afraid I have news from the gods, I will in the middle of a cold foggy Carolina night when no one is awake or watching or even listening, I will hook to a new cold flat black engine and will quietly and without a sound leave this little eastern seaboard town, missing most of all the box cars and engines that I have been privileged to ride the tracks with and park next to while in this quaint little rail yard. My new engine will be completed very soon and it has an important task to complete. It must pull me back to the warmth of the California dessert where I once stood tall in the land of my sun. They will be retiring me because my aluminum frame and skin can no longer retain the weight required for safely operating as a passenger railcar. All the letters, words, and symbolic phrases loaded into my private passenger railcar have recently received a jolting puncture on my adventure throughout time, resulting in the leaking of my railcars opulent processor which guided this passenger train throughout these journeys. And as a professional observer I would never choose to allow caustic drainage to spill onto the ground of this or any other beautiful landscape, and I feel that this indeed may have been the case. Recently the land before me has begun to evaporate into the midnight cool as the years slid quietly over me. True and faithful colors that once bled in my hands, painting a place for the deserving to prowl are now blending into thin shadows of negative film as the snapshots from life now runs and hides from my tracks.
The hot watery scented baths of living that I have always enjoyed are now just lost memories of mine that were sold to time as freight. They wash me off clean sliding me away from those beautiful word chimes that orchestrate free sounds and songs, sounds that now crash into each other and create odorless and motionless memory. I feel lucky that my last stop is ending here.
In your ears if you care to listen closely you can hear a new train whistle off in the distance dogwood trees calling to the Aberdeen Star station of it’s arrival, whilst the newly completed dark flat black engine pulls me out into the darkness of shadows without a sound, without my words, with no one around, and with only a single circus clown on board, exactly how one may have pictured it should be. Ahead the triple pure white front facing lamp of the flat black steam engine points the way to a lonely side track that just dead ends.
. . . .
In the magical words of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, you might be saying
“How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”