Beside the Tracks

By the Tracks

life is the silent terminal ache,

gentle reverberations in the wind

the iron earth

calling to the unknown hope of time.

Somewhere steel belches,

the smoke, flaming flies

between the beauty and decay.

Heart throbs to the notion—

old men questioning burial rites

too soon

too soon

for the ache, undeserving, still hums life’s wait.

Cataclysm drifts within the rails,

stoking questions of unmaking—

wonders of dissolution.

Mad men call out boarding orders

through shrieks of shuffling feet,

silence in the foot-borne stares

tick-ticking down flesh;

Souls departing.

* I must say it feels good to write poetry, between everything else. Writing may be a passion, but poetry…poetry is legitimately a sweet release for me. With all the marketing and whatnot I’m having to do with the impending book release, it is a breath of fresh air…in the midst of a whirlwind. This is my latest humble offering to the dVerse Poets community, though I sadly preface it with the note that next week may be a bit hectic to join in the fun then. We’ll see – but with the book launch on Monday, my head might be in a totally new zone. Hopefully the muse sticks with me over the course of the week, though, and makes that warning for naught.


36 thoughts on “Beside the Tracks

  1. Filled with deep emotion this week, so soon we think of our fate and waste too much time thinking about such things when we should be living. And good luck with the book release, marketing can be quite umm “fun”..haha

  2. a beautiful somber poem, Chris. Thought these lines were really cool esp -gentle reverberations in the wind, the iron earth. Is that your photo? love it! (send some over to The River for me will ya ? 😉

    good luck with your book release – a stressful but exciting time, I am sure.

    • Will do, Sheila! Trying to get all this book stuff settled before my mind switches over to additional projects, but I’ll try to get you some photography in the near future – and yes, that pic is one of mine. Nothing special, but it certainly did the trick for poetic theme, I think (hope). Glad you enjoyed the poem.

  3. somehow your tracks made me think of the castor transport to gorleben… they blocked the rails in protest – so was in our news for quite a few days now and guess it’s still somewhere in the back of my mind.. yeah..good to read your poetry chris..and congrats on the book..just checked the link..the cover looks awesome..

    • Thanks, Claudia – glad you liked how the cover turned out (still playing around with title font, of course). As to the poem, well – it’s funny the links our mind’s can make from an image to events in our own lives. Protests, eh? What were they protesting over?

  4. Opening lines so deft and perfect; in that phrase ‘terminal ache’ comes every voyage and every longing for journey’s end instantly, and so on through the smoke flaming between beauty and decay, the whole trek of life…tick tocking to that final countdown. This is an excellent poem, Chris, and I can feel that sense of both purpose and enjoyment in it you speak of. Fits in well with your Pretzels choice today too. (I wish that went up earlier–I always miss it till OLN time.) Best of luck with the book launch Monday–keep us up to date.

    • Would that I could make them go up sooner for you, my friend! As you know, everything’s on that 3 p.m. schedule, though; I’m just glad the Pretzels feature gets a full day up there, even if it does kind of get overshadowed by Open Link Night.

      We’re all tick-tocking to that final countdown…though I’m more presently occupied with that book launch countdown. It’s like getting prepped for a big speech. Lots of butterflies and nerves. Thank you for the support though, and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem too – I’ll be sure to keep you informed, book-wise. Lord knows I’ll blog about it enough!

      I’m also glad “terminal ache” caught someone’s eye. It was actually those two words from which the rest of this sprung, to be honest. Those two popped into my head before sleep a few nights ago – and the rest just rolled from there.

  5. By the Tracks

    life is the silent terminal ache,

    gentle reverberations in the wind

    the iron earth

    calling to the unknown hope of time……..Love , love these lines, Chris. Just beautiful! I wish you good luck with your book-so exciting!

  6. you know the tracks were a place i would escape to…they ran by my house…the moan of the trains was a comfort…just the other week 3 kids got killed on them….the last stanza esp did it for me chris…nice sombre tone…

    • Interesting. I hadn’t even considered that. You’re right though – I certainly could see it standing on its own. A poem within a poem – fascinating to see what another eye can catch. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Laurie – I sincerely hope you enjoy it. It may be prose, but I have to say, I wasn’t able to keep all the poetic language away…some things are just engrained, you know?

    • Fun, and stressful :P. Sometimes I feel like I’m running around in circles – but I haven’t started barking at the window or at cars yet, so I feel that my sanity, at least, may still be intact. C’est la vie, eh?

      Good to have YOU back at the dVerse Pub, my dear! December will be better for your renewed presence.

  7. Oh Chris, so good to read your poetry every time. So glad you are finding time for it, among all the other events in your life. Congratulations on the book; hope you have enormous success with it. Yes, promotion takes a lot of time and effort.

    This piece speaks to me on so many levels. Since I was a child I had a sense of the metaphor of a train journey as a person’s life. Taking one where one hasn’t been before but not always allowing for discovery only quick views, caught on a car with people who arrived at the same time. Departures at different times though, and other people passing through, sometimes stopping for a while and others moving on. The rails as much as clock hands, represent time and motion. Well done!

    • It just works so beautifully as a metaphor, for so many facets of life – glad we’re in agreement there. The train, the people, the wait…it’s all so indicative. I suppose one could go with planes these days if they wanted to modernize their metaphors, but I still think the train makes a more solid image for it.

  8. Powerfully beautiful piece Chris, you have taken the image to another level, drew me right in. So happy for your upcoming release!!! Cannot wait to get my copy! Keep it on, love your words and thank you for always stopping in and making such kind comments in my words, gratitude for you! ~ Rose

    • Your support means the world, my dear and lovely friend! Glad the piece spoke to you – and your words for the book draw a smile to my face. No need to thank me for the comments on your own work, though, Rose – with pieces like you produce, one couldn’t keep me away!

  9. I stumbled on this blog via ‘Novel Girl’ and then clicked on ‘Poetry’ of course because that is my first love. I had a quick look at the comments and they’re encouraging. I think the foundation of the poem, itself is strong but there are some weak moments. For example, I wondered why ‘Tracks’ was capitalised, despite the picture, I don’t think it creates any sort of higher meaning, for me the capitalisation detracts from the fludity of the poem.

    Also, ‘silent terminal’ I feel that both these words, separated, mean the round-about the same thing and it’s almost silly to say out loud that the notion of life is ‘silent’ as that’s an unsaid. I loved ‘terminal ache’ as that completely encapsulated emotion, being, grief, loss, etc. I would have to say the same about ‘gentle reverberations’ as that seems like it’s one and the same thing, in terms of sound. The line would sound more solid if it was just ‘reverberations on wind’. The last line of the first stanza ‘calling to the unknown hope of time’ is both ambiguous and cliched. I think it’s stilted because of the ‘unknown’ in the line but also the mention of ‘hope’ too. Can you somehow rework the line so that it is as strong as the others and ultimately, doesn’t let the first bit of the poem down?

    I love ‘somewhere steel belches’ as though the place is a monsterous stomach and the belch is felt in other parts. Again, the last line of stanza 2 is absolutely cliched ‘between beauty and decay’. Show us this, as you have done with ‘steel belches’ instead of telling us. I do, however, love ‘old men questioning burial rites’ but I don’t think the refrain of ‘too soon / too soon’ works to evoke that emotion that was intended. I think because of that, the last line of the 3rd stanza falls short, is vague and almost doesn’t make sense within the context of the poem. The image needs to be more succinct here.

    The tone of the poem changes in the 2nd to last stanza, where I don’t feel that the other half of the poem is the same. The other half of the poem is the strongest, this sort of becomes confused, chaotic and stilted, so much so that the reader/viewer feels overwhelmed and the image/that ultimate image becomes lost and forgotten. I would suggest working on the last half of the poem, think about your intended meaning and which imagery you’ll employ that will inspire the most meaning and reflection.

    • Now that is the sort of creative, constructive criticism I love to receive! Thank you very much for taking the time with this while you were swinging through the blog, Amber. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and also to be given such a well-thought out deconstruction of the work’s qualities – good and bad alike. I’d certainly agree in regards to “Tracks,” as well as the repetitive quality of utilizing both “silent terminals” and “gentle reverberations.” I’ll need to go back over the second half of the poem to consider your points there, but for the rest at the moment, my sincerest gratitude, and I do hope you come back. Cheers!

      • You’re most welcome! It’s lovely to meet you too 🙂 Poet to Poet!
        I’d like to go through your other work to read and comment when I have time 🙂 I find it’s always interesting reading, as I always learn something new, especially when critiquing. I love knowing that both sides get something rewarding from discussion. 😀

        • I’m looking forward to it, Amber. Glad you get something out of it too – as it’s said, sometimes we don’t see until we view a trait in another…good or bad! Enjoy your look about.

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