19 April 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 1

Freight Train Blues

I'm stopped by the slow guillotine of the grade

Crossing—three diesels dragging gear north to Fort Drum

Not just tanks, & Fighting Bradleys, & armored cars

But oil transports, hospital trucks, even grain hoppers:

Everything we need to fight the long war in a foreign land.

Around me now curious drivers & their children

Craning happy as lambs, as though this were a circus train—

Mobile cannons, MB3 rocket launchers, field generators—

As on my radio Little Walter sings I ain't broke

But I'm bad bent / Everybody loves a dead president

Bulldozers, backhoes, pile drivers, hydraulic augurs—

I let my cigarette burn to the butt, diners pause

Mid-fork, a kid deftly flicks up his skateboard to gawk

And, in this sun, snowbanks shrink like lips on a corpse.

About the author:

Martin Walls is a Witter Bynner fellow of the Library of Congress. His second collection of poems, Commonwealth, is available through March Street Press. Individual poems have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, FIELD, Boulevard, Epoch, TriQuarterly, Commonweal, The Nation, and elsewhere. In 2007, Walls will judge the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. He is assistant editor of Making Music and International Musician magazines, both published in Syracuse, New York.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 1, where "Freight Train Blues" ran on April 19, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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