The Westbound Poet

Print by Howard Fogg
Other works by Howard Fogg

Railroader's Advice
Copyright 2015, by James Lynn Bartz

These words were spoken by my Dad:
"You stay in school, get that degree!
Although the railroad isn't bad
Who wants to work long nights like me?"

So now, I close my business deals
In coat and tie, while there's still light.
Yet, long for yards of rails and wheels
Where trains roar out into the night.

I tell my son: "Go work on rails,
Don't be an educated fool,
Obey the call of cinder trails,
(When you get out of medical school!)"
* * * * *




CLAY
by Garnet Rhodes
Copyright 2015, by The Westbound Stage


I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day.
And as my fingers pressed it still
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were passed.
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it still it bore.
But I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay,
And touched it gently day by day,
And moulded with my power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone,
It was a mind I looked upon.
That early impress still he wore,
And I could change that form no more.
* * * * *





The Depot at Martinsburg, Missouri, c1900
A Book About Railroad Depots

A Depot Symphony
Copyright 2015, by James Lynn Bartz

(Allegro Moderato, I think)

I
Listen to the tick and tock,
Rhythm from a lazy clock.
Counting off my working years,
Playing music in my ears.

Give the order board a yank,
Hear it creak, and moan, and clank.
Ringing from the city 'phone
Echoes with a mellow tone.

Play a tune? I have to strain
Just to hum a 'Middle C.'
Tho', I play a fine refrain
Called the 'Depot Symphony.'

II
Distant whistle, click, and clack,
Varnish coming down the track.
Grab a hoop and clearance form.
Clear the board and brave the storm.

Huff and chuff and groan and hiss,
Hoist it high, so 'E' won't miss.
Clearance, orders, one to spare --
Now, "E's" puttin' on the air.

"Something here is not complete!"
Harmonize the 'C' and 'E.'
Now, my ticker skips a beat
Of the Depot Symphony.

III
Strike a match, then drip, and stamp,
Press it while the wax is damp.
Screen door creaks, and then a slam,
Time to send a telegram.

Syncopate and pound the brass,
Resonate the sounder's sass,
Now, another click and clatter,
"25" with DS chatter.

I can't read a music sheet.
Any maestro would agree.
Neither is a waltz as sweet
As a Depot Symphony.

IV
So, enjoy your hi-fi sound,
Conversation has been drowned.
Play your rock 'n rollin' toys,
With their wild gyrating noise.

Just give me an order shack
Down along some lonely track.
There's a train! You'd best get on!
Must be yours, 'cause mine is gone.

When OS'ed by heaven's bay,
I'll know there's a place for me
As I hear the Agent play
That old Depot Symphony.
* * * * *

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