Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Night Train in Fog

You hear the fractured racket of the beast,
its engine, horn, and steel on steel. The total
sound is one of the heaviest you'll know.
Fog's turned the invisible train into
a backstage cataclysm. Imagination

rises like an exhausted porter. A Black
stoker sings early versions of "Casey Jones."
Jackie Gleason offers Sherlock Holmes
a highball. John Henry stirs a kettle
of beans for hungry hobos. Dr. Zhivago

and Lara get it on joyfully in a sleeper,
and Agatha Christie shows Hitchcock
a few card tricks, but he can't concentrate
because a platinum blond just entered
the dining car. Butch and Sundance

ride disguised as old Methodist women.
Johnny Cash and Leadbelly sing
a train song, and Rain in the Face
(the engineer) leans on the horn hard.
It ain't no whistle.


hans ostrom 2016
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