April 12, 2016

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Sound Poem Project Day 26: Train

Happy Poetry Friday, Sound Poets!

Let's all wish a happy birthday to
who is hosting Poetry Friday today
at My Juicy Little Universe.
It happens every year. As we near the end of our poem-a-day project, I feel a mixture of finish-line glee and sadness. Get a group of poets together, writing regularly on a common theme, and a community pops up overnight like a circle of (creative, lovely) toadstools.

And if you're not ready to the daily prompts to end.. GREAT NEWS! The birthday girl herself, Heidi Mordhorst, is doing a poem-a-day project for her birthday month, March. Check it out at My Juicy Little Universe.

Today is Day 26 of Author Amok's 2015 poem-a-day project. We are spending February writing in response to sounds.  

For a full description of the project and how to participate, please read this post. I hope you'll join us. I'll continue posting poems from Day 26 as they come in. Thanks to everyone who has sent in poems so far.

Our Day 26 prompt is the sound of a train. This sound was suggested by Myra of Gathering Books.

A train's whistle, the departures and arrivals echoing through a station, even a subway's clatter is a nostalgic sound for many of us.

In Patricia VanAmburg's prose poem, past and present -- memory and history and family story -- overlap as we move from phrase to phrase, the way we might move between train cars.

Changing Trains with My Parents
by Patricia VanAmburg

Even before the war—my mother rode trains by herself or with her sister—
days and nights on the town—no trouble with navigation—finding the way
to fine hotels—after the war my father rode trains in France—some filled
with orphans begging for cigarettes and chocolate—some cars still holding
 Nazi loot—others stacked with corpses—he found his way home— now this
clanging metro car freezes both in their tracks—they quiver like mice before
the raptor—unable to board—I am screeching above the clammor—get on—
GET ON—but they are stationary—I must push them through the closing door.

I like the way Patricia and Karin Fisher-Golton both used long lines to recreate their train sounds.

Rolling Rhythm
by Karin Fisher-Golton

I hear the beat of drumming, rhythmic rising cross terrain.

I glance and see no drummers drum—the sound comes from a train.

My train poem also connects to memory. When my son (who is about to graduate from high school) was small, he was obsessed with all vehicles. Trains were his favorite. Naturally, I became a reluctant enthusiast.

Baltimore Pantograph
By Laura Shovan

Word learned from my three year old
who sat in his car seat naming
every vehicle we drove past.
From him I came to know
a backhoe from a bulldozer.
The long-necked excavator
resembled an Apatosaurus
drinking at a muddy pond.
The long-necked crane,
more like a giraffe
picking leaves off the trees
with its open jaws.
From him, my knowledge
of train cars, whether
they moved people
or some other freight. How easy
it was to spot a pantograph—
a word I did not know
before my son arrived—
its thin electric arms reaching up,
holding fast to the charged wire
as the train darted from station
to station in a city
we were learning to love.

As Charles Waters points out, the path of the train does not always run smoothly


Steel wheels strike against lines
Of disgruntled track rails,
Discharging an array of sparks
Like a family reunion
Of illuminated honey bees.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved. 

Linda Baie from Teacher Dance sent in an old poem today. (Totally fine, Linda!). She says, "I wanted to share this memory that occurs every time I hear that train blow the whistle."

One Moment

We ran,
late for the train
across platforms and tracks.
Engines hissed,
bumbled and buzzed, and we stumbled 
in and out of shadows.
The whistle shrilled,
the engine roared,
so loud I startled.
We watched the train pull forward.
Click, clack, click, clack!
Click, clack, click, clack!
We ran faster.

My new husband whistled.
The conductor looked out,
and pulled a lever.
Wheels screeched,
I wondered at the whistle’s power,
yet even more,
I marveled at this skill,
unknown to me.
And then grabbed the arm
of the mysterious man
I called my husband.

      Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

Check out Diane Mayr's train poem at her site, Random Noodling. I was a devoted subway rider when I lived in New York. Diane's poem took me back to that time.

It snowed in Maryland again this morning. Many of us along the East Coast will enjoy the promise that Mike Ratcliffe's train brings.  Mike explains, "My poem isn't in response to any one in particular, but more generally to the sound of a train moving along the rails."

Good Sleeping Weather
by Mike Ratcliffe
Spring peepers singing out back,
and in the distance,
a freight train's steady rhythm.

Bonus sound!

And bonus poem!


Tribes of fingertip sized
Spring peepers
Shriek their off-pitch songs
Into the forest evening.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

We're almost at the finish line, poets!

Here are all of the sound prompts for the last week of February. Remember, there will be a prize for our most prolific poet.

Footsteps in snow

Smoke on the Water
Sea Turtle

Ugandan Music


Suggested by Jennifer Lewis.

Sunday, March 1: Project Wrap-up

If you'd like some poem-starters to wake up your muse, you'll find them at the bottom of this post. Drop in any time with a poem. I’ll continue to post your work throughout the month, no matter which sound you are writing in response to.

Would you like to read what we’ve written so far? Here are links to the week 3 poems. Each of these posts links to the week 1 and 2 poems.

Santa Fe Church Bells Poems by Linda Baie, Patricia VanAmburg, Diane Mayr, Laura Shovan, and Charles Waters.

Quaking Aspen Poems by Diane Mayr, Charles Waters, Laura Shovan, Patricia VanAmburg, Mike Ratcliffe, and Karin Fisher-Golton.

Tuesday, February 17 -- new poem!
Laughing Child Poems by Charles Waters, Diane Mayr, Laura Shovan, Michael Ratcliffe, Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, and Heidi Mordhorst.

Mysterious Space Sound Poems by Patricia VanAmburg, Charles Waters, Mike Ratcliffe, Laura Shovan, Linda Baie, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, and Margaret Simon.

Museum Stairwell Poems by Linda Baie, Mike Ratcliffe, Laura Shovan, Charles Waters, Margaret Simon, Diane Mayr, Patricia VanAmburg, and Karin Fisher-Golton.

Friday, February 20 -- new poems!
Reptile Poems by Linda Baie, Patricia VanAmburg, Margaret Simon, Laura Shovan, Mike Ratcliffe, Donna Smith, Robyn Hood Black, Buffy Silverman, and Charles Waters.

Traditional Chinese Music Poems by Diane Mayr, Mike Ratcliffe, Laura Shovan, Robyn Hood Black, Linda Baie, Patricia VanAmburg, Carol Varsalona, Charles Waters, and Margaret Simon.


Diane Mayr said...

Wow, these are spectacular! Patricia's tore at my heart, and from you Laura, I've learned a new word! The spring peeper video made me sad. Peeper trills used to fill the air here in the spring, but, each year for the last five or so, the sounds have steadily diminished. I can't even remember hearing them last year. We'll see what happens in another month. I have a feeling all the peepers will have frozen to death this year.

My train (subway) poem is up on my blog. I thought it was a bit too long to post here.

Michael Ratcliffe said...

I agree with Diane-- spectacular poems! Linda, your poem brings to mind the time (27 years ago) when my wife and I missed the last train from London to Oxford and ended up spending the night in Paddington Station (we didn't have money for a room in a hotel or B&B), first sleeping on a bench and then in the warmth of the first train out, thanks to a kind conductor who allowed us to board several hours early. We both have vivid memories of how warm and comfortable that train was!

Author Amok said...

Thanks for posting the link, Diane! Sorry to hear about those peepers. I look forward to them every spring.

Linda B said...

Riding trains is something I wish every one of my students will be able to do. These bring up lots of memories. Diane, I heard peepers for the first time on a trip to NYC, then the Poconos with my students. Patricia, my mother told stories about riding the train to join my father while in training in WWII. Laura, my kids' favorite book as toddlers was Freight Train. You've captured the fascination here beautifully. Mike, such an image to treasure. I hear trains from my house, sadly never peepers.

jama said...

I do love the memories associated with trains in today's poems -- they'll always have a romance all their own (and it helps to be married to someone who's designed railroads). :)

Irene Latham said...

Wow, trains are quite the rich subject, aren't they? Love the emotion in these.Thank you, Laura, for this project! xo

Penny Parker Klostermann said...

Thanks for sharing the "sound of a train" poems! And thanks to you and your son, I learned the meaning of pantograph! I didn't know that word either.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Superb, all, but wow, Linda's newlywed moment! I've got train memories too...full of SMELLS more than sounds. : )

Thanks for all the SoMe love, Laura.

GatheringBooks said...

I am amazed by all the Poetry Friday folks are doing - I love seeing so many original works every week, all the challenges, and I love reading your vision and knowing about your memories. Thank you for all the links as well.

Margaret Simon said...

Love how powerful memories were brought about by the train sound. I have some catching up to do.

Tara said...

Your poem made me remember the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, a frequent destination when we lived in DC and would travel there with our train crazy son. Your poetry celebration has been such a delight this month, Laura.