The Armchair Railman

21 Jul

My Dad, he loved trains
he loved the chug of them
the noise and wind
of a full steam scream
the metal and fire and hold on
for  your life, looking
for the next stop
coming round the bend

Standing on a platform
with places to go,
rails stretched long
stitched across the land
heads hanging out
windows, whooshing past
abandonded depots
in towns that time forgot

My Dad, he loved trains
never met a station
he didn’t like, he
built railroad altars
to punctuate his life
to hold those engines
in the palm of his hand
my Dad, he loved trains.


Well, thanks Bill. This is the type of prompt that I need. Something to help me out of my poetic rut.

Trains are in my blood. They are an Eyde Thing (as are planes, but let that be another poem). My dad loved trains, and he knew all the lines, all the railroads, used to travel to obscure places just to see their train stations. He was famous for saying, “the train used to stop here, in this little place!” with the same tone of nostalgic amazement, every time. Trains brought life, and my dad celebrated that. It fascinated him, much like boats and ports and maritime history fascinates me. Ever since I was a small child he used to buy train sets and built model railroads with my brothers and I. He never stopped, up until he passed away at the age of 71 he built train sets and models. It was his indulgence in his later years.

The photo is of the old train depot in Gettysburg, PA. I took this photo while I was visiting Gettysburg with my mom and one of my daughters. Local legend says that President Lincoln arrived at this station with his train car when he came to deliver the Gettysburg address. Gettysburg is a bit off the beaten track, so it didn’t get much traffic and the train station shut down in the mid 20th century. My Dad went to college at Gettsyburg, and I imagine that he probably got a kick out of the train station there, just a couple of blocks from campus but historically significant because of it’s place in time and history.

16 Responses to “The Armchair Railman”

  1. journalread July 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    Yep, my dad was like that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kanzensakura July 21, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    This is so good! Those altars your father could hold in his hand. A really loving poem.


  3. X July 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Hey there N Florida,

    I had an uncle like that. Had a big train table in his basement. Could tell you all about them, and had several different models. Used to let me wear the conductor hat while he ran them round and round.



  4. Sanaa Rizvi July 21, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    Such a beautiful & heart-warming poem 🙂

    Lots of love,


  5. Victoria C. Slotto July 21, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    There is a mystique about trains and all they represent. This prompt is making me want to take a train trip.


  6. Grace July 21, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    How delightful to read that your father loves trains ~ He must have enjoyed travelling to towns and new places ~


  7. Mary July 21, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    I can really feel your dad’s spirit in this poem! I do think trains are in some people’s blood. Your poem celebrates your dad & is a keeper.


  8. C.C. July 21, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    “In a town that time forgot”–love that line.


  9. claudia July 22, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    how cool … and cool that he knew so much about the different lines as well… i too love trains – they’re so full of history and dreams and i remember the trains that actually had windows to open…unfortunately the new ones don’t have those anymore


  10. MarinaSofia July 22, 2015 at 2:17 am #

    This prompt really was made for you and Polly then – what a powerful and detailed portrait of your father! It’s these eccentricities and obscure bits of knowledge which we treasure.


  11. katiemiafrederick July 22, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    Ah.. a father and a train
    in best alike.. predictable
    always there.. when
    they are needed

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rythaephua July 22, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    It was worth passing by, nice one.


  13. billgncs July 22, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    I could feel your father in this, and your love for him.

    Riding my bicycle along some of the old lines, often there’s a ghost town, or a shut mine that was right on the tracks – and when the trains stopped, as if the blood within their veins failed – the towns withered and died.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glenn Buttkus July 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    I just adore this portrait of your Dad. It was much better he had railroads as his passion, & hobby, rather than working for the Railroad, & having his fantasies reduced to diesel smoke, & track repairs.


  15. Sumana Roy July 23, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    you’ve beautifully sketched your father’s passion in these lines…an interesting read…


  16. brutalityrules July 23, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    I often don’t remember the verses just after reading them, but good poems always bump up my heartbeat. And this one does so Well.


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