Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stowaway taken toward Miss Engine #9

The train depot was popping this spring. The crew assigned this year was a helluva crew, boy! Sure makes a whole lotta difference, from the painted colors of the depot herself, fresh and glossy and thick! to the presence of a henhouse and therefore the wonderful signing into dawn through the roosters' cocky lament. Coins exchanged for sodapop were even polished, alike the shoes, and clearly the eminent steel powerhouses pulling dining cars and sleepers stole the hearts and minds of dreamers and adventurers come to travel.

He found himself in contemplation much of the time, on engine nine. He was a stowaway unless someone somehow mistook him somewhere along the number nine line, for someone else. In which case he was a stowaway impersonating a traveler. This was neither here nor there for him. He would have paid, could he have afforded it. And he would be someone another fashioned him to be, if it brought them pleasure and helped pass the time along sometimes. If he ever got a bad hit or feeling off of someone, he made sure to walk away from any potential affair as soon as practical. But this was not often.

Hat Red striped by K
Mostly he caught the cars closest to the engine herself, so he could catch her in a new way, a new style, an evolution of her wonderful yet unadorned simple force and magnitude. He caught something new every time, it seemed, which brought him untold happiness. One can hardly ever guess how any one man's heart may conduct itself when coaxed out of hiding. On this day, he was lost in the physical, and his mind was weary. But once he had coffee and breakfast, the day lay before him to explore another aspect.

The shadows which held the screen of the apron of the engine so to protect it, shone like light, like glossy black finish over the stones the crew had trucked in from east coast shoreline jersey tidepools. Such a tangible and sharp angled kind of darkness was nowhere else to be found! He marvelled at these otherwise romantic sorts of notions. Then he marvelled at himself marvelling! Then had to laugh for having marvelled at himself marvelling.

As though it were living black. Or dark matter that made itself evident to the naked human eye. These days he travelled by rail more for nostalgia than any clear necessity. But the trips became much more memorable and important. although often in recalling a trip soon thereafter in his mind, He had eyes for only one, Miss  #9, rain or shine. Even your average train hoppin' moonshine runnin' babyfaced red, sunspotted, suffering marked for the road and no goin' back home except to die maybe, if he is lucky, livin' in the shadow of the forties and the bennies and the beats and the new american streets pushing out to sweet somnolence of suburbs. Some could but especially he believed in himself, that he could appreciate the way the nina bellowed out her distinct muffled coal storm call way a faraway, miles between them when he attuned to it. Still, the train would be traveling fast, so he knew he must check his ties on the sleeping bag and belongings.

She demands double knots across just about everything coming across her bow. After the first lemon squeeze city of a ride, he abided her limits and demands. Over the years he began to admire her strength and composure. She stood the test of time well. Her wood wainscotting was clearly cut from hardwoods and the carpentry was evidently master in craftwork, uncracked mostly as it was wherever possible continued off any one slab of wood versus demarcated cut and pasting that came apart over time.

Nina she got edged out by most other ladies in her class, Lost many an critical gunny sack he did, lost bread, booze, tools, workclothes in the past trying to get up to speed  at the very coordinates he got handed down from a friend of Burroughs and Kerouac who was coaxed to hop on out of Chicago down toward Kentucky and the gulf mouthing off beneath it all, Mississippi, Louisiana, you know, like he does (the gulf) after a big old redfish sandwhich which where grits get tastier and bodies lie seven feet above that six foot under condition got standardized across the earth the blessed earth who gives when you work her a little, touch her, rake your metal fingernails down her spine to the small of her back, some knoll rising up above red clay lowgrounds and ive oak is.

Well he would not linger anywhere near six feet down and one foot up, you bet all his five fingers got crossed in concern over it. For a day most likely. Until either he shared how it troubled him (unlikely), or someone who caught the bad end of that energetic response might reach out to him to see how he was. Highly unlikely! he knew.

Pounds fall off of him in liquid salt as he catches his breath on the flat car he timed and marked for his landing right from the coordinates some so-called friend of Kerouac, yeah right, some buddy of Burroughs proffered comme handmedown to the woe begotten known for nothings who continue to live off the land and kindness of strangers. He  took them almost begrudgingly.

 The dude saw the look on his face and was confused, and would have to remain that way, unfortunate as it was. A long trip to have something not clearly understood between strangers, and without the desire to pursue it to its conclusion. Or, within the framework of desire-in-check it was too much effort to express without seeming ungrateful the way his offer sent a pulse shot of devaluation into the hot Irish sourced blood of the man, like he did not simply exude the talent the skill developed behind years and years of trial and tribulation;
 left in the dust half the time in his twenties hungover, one bottle of wine too heavy to reach the velocity needed to catch that bitch! Good old number 9! Her edges shone in the sun exposed prairies and steel flashed like a streak of cobalt lightning passed deep deep pushing into the Dakotas and beyond and flirting sometimes with the border, dreaming of gettin' off her own rails jumping her tracks to catch sweet pasture serenity of Canada, Oh Canada.

Well that kinda pulse pushes him on to greater accomplishments, you know, steamin' hot in seconds the way the fire gets caught in the jetstream and sets upon the hot dry stunned and sunned skin of trees and husk of corn.
Dragon breath! a man who he knew first as the boyfriend of a babysitter -- then later as his dad. If he were to be trusted. Which he may not have been, but for reasons unknown. Something about his style, his delivery, his message, and the way he looked at you like he wanted to believe his own utterances so badly,  which was kinda pathetic in a factual kinda way.
 If that man really was who he said he was...? Didn't look none like him. Didn't act like someone who claimed blood ties. No loyalty. No favor. No ritual but drinking and working and cursing and fucking. And these he picked up more by osmosis than anything else. He followed the man and spied on the man out of curiosity, but desperately avoided most contact, as he feared the man more than anyone before or after....nah, couldn't be! These brief words were somehow enough now to get him into a state of mind that was tolerable, bearable. And so he intended to go on living. And did.

His love affair with Engine #9 continued. He washed himself in her sights and sounds, smells, and the many diverse feelings which their path together up and down mountainsides and into tunnels, then winding around bucolic mesmerizing untouched pine and deciduous groves.


She really might never know what it feels like to be together, he suddenly thought one day after a lunch of tuna fish and pretzels, reflecting one time on the great divide and horrilbe partition between a steam engine and a human made of flesh and bone. How had he neglected this earlier? Such a critically important topic, it so suddenly seemed! Panic fell upon him, once anxiety let him up. A horrible mantra began to recite itself on the inner walls of his mind. This mantra was one better left alone and not repeated. And so he kept it to himself until it died an unremarkable death.
Silence took over, wonderfully so.
When this particular adventure on Nina came to completion, he walked away feeling broken-hearted yet unable to know what to do with the persisting nature of the persecutory feeling that the love could never survive and was a hopeless kinda love, after all.

Superficial seems the best way to cross the river Lethe. Or so he decided. He had read about that river in his parents church when he was a boy. Lethe. This was the river, the one of forgetfulness. How could anyone forget that much?
Man Under Table Under Light by K
Anyway, he knew what mostly worked for him. So he followed his own advice some more. He changed his life around to match his private thoughts and understandings. Thus he became one of those who frequented tenement buildings. Not at first to reside, for he needed to procure that job at the magazine store. Then he got the job and all things became possible. Minimum wage + a little on top. And nothing at all was possible after that. He dreamt that all things within reach, all things he could safely afford to possess for a matter of time. All things could be kept civil and fair and respectful among men and women, and noise could be nothing other than passion or fatigue or the sound of the television or radio talking over us all. But he ceased to dream, nights, and as a result there was little fruit harvested from his sleep nor his analysis of his lifelong situation...when he tried to daydream about those wonderful rides on Miss Engine #9, his visions stalled out or got flooded and voices came to intimidate, not intimate, secrets. The main secret he kept and would not dare repeat to no one, was the one that hollered: not a chance! better chance for a snowball in hell! 

J stowaway by K
If only he could remember how they always slept nights, him a stowaway lying on some bale of hay or coat or cushion or body...the easy gentle swaying like it was growing up to be a rattle some day, side to side sway, when she was working hard as she was. Wasn't she? He could not picture her or his life then, or see himself from outside himself like he used to.

Life moved on past, and still he tried to find her in his dreams but often ended up frustrated or lost...Down the tracks they came. The trains. He revisited worlds that felt slightly different, not enough the same to get his heart beating like that or even close. Slightly new. More Like the thick coat of paint on the depot walls, or the sifted and rinsed white, gray and beige-colored stones from jersey shore, what about them?
What formerly he romanticized to be such a grande labor of love, had now become simply men on work duty as legal repentance, court-ordered to haul rocks.

The trains kept coming to him like crazy, but only to confuse him more. Here now, its twenty eleven! Catch it before it pass you by! Whoops there she goes, Miss Twenty-Eleven, not so thrilled I suspect. Thrashing about as though to break free, on the steady back of Dear Jetstream number 7.


Everything deteriorated as she slipped further from his mind. Replaced with flooded rivers. The unmoored houses, sagging under the weight of alcohol-soaked baby boomer american livers. Worst flooding in Vermont in decades upon decades. The covered bridges almost had their covers blown. Vanilla and chocolate tears escaped tongues and dripped down to the base of ice cream cones. Summer jaws just dropped. All the flippers in the pinball machine -- flopped.

What did he expect? Carbon footprints leave deep imprints in the self-contained atmosphere. Scarring can be seen in the clouds on an otherwise blue sky scan. Earth is on waitlist for a new dome, mandated a month ago by the milky way galactic court on high. No one knows how. No one knows why?

He was losing his reason. But this was less painful this way. He gave it all over to the sky, his love and loss...to the stars, to the gods ands goddesses,  and to the first electric guitar. Cause he saw that there were far more deserving candidates in the system than he. Why should love be returned to him, exactly? why? He had done nothing so great in his life, never ever, no never, never ever at all.

Were Pluto still a planet, she would tell them all what happened next...his question echoed off the tails of shooting stars in the hall. Then started a stir in the astrological order. Mercury tried to filibuster to delay the clock. Greenwich Standard Time got elected Universal Time. And now it was a lock.

The next thing that happened, really happened, they say. She came back to our stowaway, Miss Engine #9. She rolled through the heavens on some Galaxy Rail. And the whole system seemed to fold down at her feet. To honor the love between them, so celebrated for so long by the stowaway, yet forgotten. But they say her approach got him feeling again, recollecting the rhythm, the heartbeat. Some say he was scared and dead tired. But still he got on his feet!

Yellow Billows by Katya
And the universe got to host this reunion so dear. In a place where the politics are typically driven by fear. Some had been bribed. Eight of nine moons of Jupiter failed to vote for themselves. Rumor has it IO (the leader of the contingent) got T-boned in the green room, by elves. Its even been suggested she had solar flares stuffed down her throat.

But whatever was, let it be! Guess what? I could care!
All i know to remember is that love! True love
represented there. Between a stowaway dreamer
and his railway romance, Miss #9, so fair.