Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Formal Freight Train Comes

August is like a train leaving summer on the one after 809. Back to school ads are already here. The sun is setting earlier whether you like it or not. I found myself walking the train tracks on Sunday, looking for something or other, maybe where the hell did June and July go. Had I really been in the Outer Banks? I climbed the embankment where there’s a little trail the dirt bikers ride. Less than 2 minutes later, a train came barrel-assing down the tracks, right where I just had been. I never saw it coming. There’s a lesson to be learned there beyond the one of self-preservation. Pay attention to the tracks with every ounce of your soul. Enjoy your dog days. You never know when that train will come your way.
August Sonnet Eight

A train was passing the space where I had been
just seconds earlier; its breadth in size
and rate of speed was sucking the oxygen
out of that opening in an otherwise
claustrophobic physiography,
creating an environment of ground—
and nothing else—the whole topography
becoming contoured around a flat but sound
concern with my contemporary past.
Imagine if, instead of stepping beyond
the rails, I had tripped up and landed fast
upon the tracks, much like a vagabond
who’s stretching out his legs while killing time:
oh brother could I cash a sparer dime.

~Son Rivers 2005

2 comments:

Mark said...

These summer/vacation posts are staring to read like haibun. They have been pretty effective. The prose/sonnet mix is interesting in the haibun context, since they were originally prose and haiku, another kind of formal verse.

I find the end of summer to be extremely melancholy (makes me think about mortality moreso than autumn, even), and this post sums it up nicely.

Greg said...

Ah, haibun. I wasn't well-aware of that form until I read Gary Snyder's attempts in his new book. Interesting how that form has snuck into things this month. It's a perfect form for blogging such a project as this. And now that you've made me aware of what I'm actually doing, I'm going to do it even more. Thanks.

I think August as a stand-in for mortality is drilled into us as kids. Who didn't listen to parents or someone else late in August (or even earlier) warn us about the end of summer and the coming of school. And usually in some macabre fashion.