Rail Yard – Matthew Bayne

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this rail yard
this crumbling 
copper place
that lost nickel 
gone black in the gravel
and the dust on those stones
in this wilting heat
in the place where you work
those dirty dandelions
that lonely coneflower
some clover, unlucky
couple of crows heckling
those sparrows
those yard birds
pecking for what
this splintered sleeper
the sting-finger creosote
spikes for the tie plate
bolts for the joint bar, tool tight
soot soaked spade for ballast
swing the heavy sledge
true and level lines, your work

sun made some hot thing 
burned your hand
don't sit
stand up and get back to work

that train is on time 
no lunch break
no real rest
get back to work

that train, pulls strong, pulls slow
boiler puffs coal smoke
puffs coke ash
the whole yard wears that
locomotive exhausted under that sun
breath tired over red coals
how hot those embers in its mouth
wheels grumble music into the ground 
understand it through the feet
feel its labored song of work
the smells of other places 
hauled in its wake
some strawberry field
some harbor
call up some memory that should be gone
locomotive chuff like that snare under that brush
wheels tick tock like the drummer's rim-clock
and you're back under that pink light
near the stage that night 
bourbon burn neat in the throat
her singing soft
smooth into your bones 
your eyes only mostly dry
and this one memory
making your whole heart a hobo
it lived with you so long
but it's time for it to go
stow it away on the train and it'll be gone
gone and you can get back to work
work in this dank heat melting your brow
useless sweat on your strong neck
heavy shoulders
tombstone torso
sweat for some men not here
some doves all coo on their rooftop
some roses fading in their vase
while in this dying yard
that brass whistle cries
work, more work
get back to work
and you go

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