500 Miles

When that train whistle blows
it’s sound floats over marsh
and concrete,
between wild palmetto
and red traffic lights,
to the ears of long-legged egrets
and tired-footed nine to fivers.
It mingles with the sound of the
wind that rustles the cypress trees
and the clank of the streetcar
lumbering down Canal Street.

When that train whistle blows
it’s the beginning of a journey out
but the natives are content to stay
right here and listen with
a smile, wrapped closely in the
arms of their lady love.

4 thoughts on “500 Miles

  1. It’s so beautiful to read what you heard – what everybody could hear at the same time but only you heard this way. Trains often evoke wanderlust (lovely German word btw) that may quickly turn to homesickness when fulfilled. (We have the closely related “Fernweh” and “Heimweh” for it.) I like the subject of trains particularly, so you got me with this poem 🙂


  2. So sweet of you to say, Neil, thanks.

    I love trains. I hear the whistles blow several times a day but that first sound in the early morning is the sweetest and inspired this poem. I often take the Crescent when I visit my parents up in Mississippi – it’s so much more fun than driving.


  3. I like how the lure of the train can’t compete with the comfort of staying where one is content. In some ways, there are too many journeys that have one searching for something that might exist right where they are – if only they could see it.


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