Train Station Mantra
Selling wares and life
Transported to and fro.
Swamped and stifled
People coughing in the nicotine haze,
Pipes and cigarettes
Hanging out of puffed cracked lips.
Dull eyes watch the line of passerby’s
Trudge past in the same fluid motion
To be stamped and approved
Rows upon rows of bottomless gum-grimed benches,
With carvings of lover’s names
And so and someone was here in 98’.
Brood by beneath the Christian mosaic
The brand new American frontier,
The great railway of the elite and poverty-stricken,
The Indians stand in the back of this,
Solemn silent chained,
By the Western shackles of exploration ambition.
Countryside wheeling about in a furious frenzy
Freeway humming and bustling, a hub of activity
Sirens flashing seizure points
Ambulance screaming sorrowfully past my window
And the world continues on.
Mid morn is reached below the overhead pass of Stockton
Country freeway melts into the city life,
Streetlights handing out stops and go’s
To cops and processional traffic.
Dropped off at Stockton train station
The paint is chipped aging
And embroidered with barb wire.
Packing feet scuffling dusty swept sombrero spackled grime tile floors
Searching about for a place to smoke before the next train,
The smoke of their mouths
Mingles with the smoke that covers the valley
While bus drivers puff wildly and bloodshot
The sun shines a sickly orange-red through the bonfire haze
Plastering the faces in sweat and tribal paint,
Old couples gasp and strain
Luggage carts lumber down the loading dock.
Across the tracks is a neighborhood,
A world of its own.
Men and women stare blankly back from behind
The steel-linked fence that divides the masses.
Speakers blaring, train is on its way!
Lumbering in at 52 mph
A lurching behemoth of steel.
Tickets out, show the man in uniform you belong,
Leather and suede blue seats
Row and rows separated by human ambition
Bound for Modesto,
Roaring and smoking great torrents of blackening electrical current hurricanes
Sweeping up trash and aluminum cans,
Great wheels spinning
Creating a man-wrought vortex of sound
Spinning dizzily past the backside of America.
Burnt-out farm stead
Exploded automobiles burnt and rusted over neglected
Resemble the shattered shell of American pride,
A far cry from the Imperialistic Empire of the last century.
Barbed wire fences hide rough scarred men
Smudged and greased over in blue uniforms
Playing hand-ball against the sooty wall pock-marked by misuse
For a drunken lunch hour,
Tractors blazing down the road
In furious robotic fever-pitched frenzy,
Old dried up neighborhoods
Of 1950s finest is now the slum lord’s throne,
Broken window panes
And shattered glass
Show smiling sagging toothless houses
And withered farmland.
America, I’ve seen the ugly side
Of your fair skin,
It’s botched and cracked down the middle by the strain of
The pounding of a million tired souls,
All muttering and swearing
To the same train mantra.