On a Train I’m Remembering

Toril “California Poppy Glow”

The boy sits there. An empty-headed kid of eleven I guess
Staring in my general direction like a special kind of slow.
His older brother asks me to run some warm bath water.
Their father, with a face full of hair, reeks of smoke and
Cannot wash away his nicotine lips or stained smile.
And where is their mother, I always wonder when I come in.
The white wooden church next door, has been condemned
And belongs to them. They are going to fix it up, get closer
To God; preach the gospel, bring in some pews. But all they
Manage to lug in is a TV set and a coffee table to rest their
Beer cans on. Sweaty, they leave rings. And I’m too good for this.
Only I don’t know it yet. But maybe that’s what this boy who
Misses his mother is trying to teach me with his irksome eyes.
The oldest one is nailing blankets over broken glass right now
Because it’s cold. And sometimes it rains in December, and
Where is their mother? I can’t say why I go, leaving only a trace
Of mist leading out west. But as I sit on a train, I remember
Those boys, an anonymous sad wind blowing east of the Rockies
Where poppies never grow, because they’re not meant for snow.
And now I am remembering. Poppies were never meant for snow.

Written for Real Toads


27 thoughts on “On a Train I’m Remembering

  1. I loved this, Angie! You have such a wide depth and breadth to your poetry. You brought me right to this place this scene happened. How do you make this look so easy? I know that it’s not.
    I’m going to post a link to a poem I read on a friends site. I’m learning all of my poetry terms and this one feels like a sestina…loved it! BRB

    PS: How’s that birthday chair feeling today?

  2. Hey Angie–this is a wonderful little narrative poem–your role in this group is never really clear, though that doesn’t matter really (to me anyway–which made me wonder if you needed the last line, that I believe is a reference to you–) The ending is very cool with or without it–it is just a terrific poem–very very vivid and real and touching too. Thanks. k.

    1. Thanks for that. This is an unfinished draft as I was in a hurry to leave town this morning. As you were unclear about my part in this group, do you mean the Toads or this particular narrative?

  3. WoW! Getting out of the situation that just drags you down, slowing down, like in ENDGAME by Becket or a Sam Shepherd play, a bit at a time, imperceptible, perhaps. But one feels one has to escape before it’s too late!

  4. This is just the most amazing narrative. The voice is so authentic and the scenario devastating in its depiction of a family in disintegration. I found the whole to be very moving.

  5. Hello. Just wanted to let you know how glad I am to be one of your followers. You certainly can write!

    I do a regular feature where I visit other websites and then write about what I find. This week it is called: March Forward: Sunday Blog Visits, and I am including your site.

    All my best to you.

  6. There is so much depth here to dive into that I’ve read it more than once and still find myself thinking about it on several levels.

    1. Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorites! Steinbeck is my literary grandfather ( though not literally.) I grew up in Kansas, and followed the same dusty road out to California.

      1. Oh wow!! How neat to follow that same road…well you’ve brought the taste of Steinbeck…happens to be one of my favorites as well…such rich, organic writing – brimming with humanity. 🙂

  7. cool narrative…i like how your prose makes jumps at times, but they fit…the tie in of the poppy’s in the end add emphasis to me of the boys plight and makes me wonder at their story….

    i am a teacher as well…high school…math and sped…but i am coaching a middle school girls soccer team this season…so she is real…smiles

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