Train Thru Wrightstown

by Eric Chaet

Crescent moon,
& the urgent horn & low rumble of a train
across the river, rushing into Wrightstown.

When Perry brought a miniature locomotive to Tokyo
the silk-clad people knew the Shogunate was over—
there were assassinations, factories, rifles
wars with China & Russia, & colonizing Korea.

Where there were 300 principalities, now there was Germany:
every little market town—brick church towers, oaks—
connected, south to north, west to east—sleek rails!
& everywhere people riding them—to factories, ports, America.
Von Moltke moved carloads of troops from 20 directions
Paris fell, the balance of power was unbalanced.

Every producer—farmer, craftsman, manufacturer—
was in competition with every producer everywhere.
American farmers protested shipping rates
that favored those who controlled iron, oil, coal.
Irishmen, Chinamen, serfs, & prisoners
laid track across the Rockies & Siberia.

Steel mills, coal mines, stocks, bonds, soot.
Horses & Apaches penned in.
Strikes put down by troops & private armies of Pinkertons.
Booms, bubbles, & busts beyond your control—like weather.
River-spanning bridges carrying weights previously unimaginable.

Now—already—18-wheel trucks & airplanes compete with the trains
& shuttles blast off from Florida, building the space station—
whether you like it or not.

The train keeps sounding its warning: Notice me or be crushed!
As it passes thru Wrightstown, people stumble up to urinate
& shuffle back to bed, to sleep.

Gradually, the low rumble subsides.
Pre-historic crickets & grasshoppers resume their staticky telegraphy
like an ionospheric storm brought down
to the soil, concrete, asphalt, corn-stalk, & grass-blade surface.


Previously posted in The Minimag (USA)


surveillance series

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