16. From the Train Southbound–February 2010

Note: This is the second (and last) post of the 20/20 that is a reworking of an older script.  This one a poem.  Recognize the risk that this non-poet takes in sharing a poem publicly.  Be gentle.


Tule (fog) hugs the contours while contrails etch the sky.

Dried blood sun slides in and out of the mist on its way up to kiss the dome

(It will crest orange before returning to ochre on its way back down)

Further south, sun retreats

Bested for now by Tule


Draped over the sprawl of another valley town that swallowed the earth

And spit out postage stamp size plots of pipe, concrete and pressed wood

From boreal forests far away

Back yards digesting the detritus of lives

No green to hide it

“Round up ready” orchards and fields

Producing “on demand”

Forced to bind up the nutrition in the dirt

So we can “feed the world” and

Throw away nearly half of what we grow.


Below the Delta all is yellow

As the Tule/sun battle continues


Sun will win come summer but tule holds sway in this season

Until noon or until all the tomorrows of winter have ended their reign


Fenced pens of beasts

Who elsewhere might be bovine

But here are shit-caked parts of the machine

That we hide here


(They live in their excrement

Their “cowness gone”)

The TV tells us how happy these machine parts are.

Can a replacement part be “happy”

Strictly speaking?


And then faux clouds (Tule playing at being real “weather”)

Break down and the land begins to be revealed



For what we have imposed upon it.


Twine- and wire-bound-bumper-cars

Create traffic jams on field edge

Signs in Spanish

Reveal the origin of the drivers

Longing to go back

Unable to go back

Damned for not going back

Bound by the dream-turned-drudgery

That the fields and orchards and pens devise.

The drivers also part of the machine


Sun, now bone white

Stands behind Tule

A final warning that his time is almost up

Soon enough sun

Will win


And will batter this earth

(The hammer of heaven,

Pounding the anvil of summer ground)

We, meanwhile, wait for redemption of the whole scene

Seen from the train.

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