The clearest memory: the night’s wet mixture
of heavy snow fast frozen
by the Arctic’s rush
to create an early morning quick freeze.
Each small mound of accumulated flakes
break again in loud glass shards.
the Springfield train station’s cement interior
reverberates the smudges and soot
hiding the wanted posters
and out-of-date schedules.
I was too tired
for dark humor,
needing a sandwich,
needing a beer, hearing the conductor ask the station master
to please, please hold
until the the train turns around;
needing a sandwich, needing a beer,
clearly hearing aggressive
and persistent demands.
Which gate? Which gate?
When could we board? Why are we so late?
Persistence echoing annoying sounds. Again,
once again in my dreams
the conductor ambles
into the café car,
asks for a cup of coffee.
“You’re late” he radios the engineer,
“why are we waiting?”
Relaxed, he lights a cigarette
in the empty No Smoking car
and remarks about an odd silence.
“We have a private train until Windsor Locks.”
Again, the station disappears.
The train crosses the Connecticut River,
and crosses today’s possible lecture about the river Styx.
It crosses the fog rising from the flowing current.
Left on the other side, I follow by bus.
“What a way to run a railroad” I comment to the driver.
“Oh, this happens all the time,” happy for the extra work,
pulls the desperately charted bus
out onto I-91.
The New Haven station late at night seems like a giant tomb.
3. Penn Station, New York City
I have been here before.
As I step of the train, a conductor laughs
about one of their own screwing up
and tells me I should follow him.
Odd, as I follow him toward a hidden office I had never seen before,
I had memories or picking up the props
after Hoffman’s final curtain.
Pipes and beer mugs were scattered all over the stage
under the main stage.
The audience still roared
while we worked in the oppressive humidity
of this theatrical basement.
That night, long after midnight, instead of taking a cab home
I took the subway.
It was a ride almost as strange as tonight’s.
Because of track work and detours, the subway train
drifted into a Sargasso sea of rust and crumbling brick,
and it was pulled uncomfortably through a route of old abandoned stations
with no apology from.
Tomorrow’s daytime travelers would never see this route
and would stare at me in disbelief when I tried to describe it.