Gone Train Blues by Michael Waterson Listening to Sam McGee’s flying fingers flat-picking Railroad Blues, my phantom tears fall for all the railroads sidetracked long ago, faded names on empty boxcars shunted onto rusted spurs— Chesapeake & Ohio, Erie Lackawanna, Illinois Central cannonballing into legend, once bustling stations retooled to postcard museums, where shadows endlessly pass, calling all aboard, echoing a slide guitar strum picking up steam, hauling broken hearts down the line to nowhere, each passenger’s last dime, dropping through the holes in their pockets, as they lug suitcases full of enough ache to make anyone sing the Blues— So if your lover soaring away on a silver bird into the blue knocks you to your knees, sends you crawling to the crossroads to bargain for your soul, no demon talent will possess you, fret your fraying heart strings or moan your low-down pain for the masses’ adulation, for the devil packed his dignity and left you, Baby, with no tracks to roll on down.
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Michael Waterson is a retired journalist originally from Pittsburgh PA. A longtime resident of Northern California, his career includes stints as a wildland firefighter, San Francisco taxi driver and wine educator. He earned a BA from San Francisco State and an MFA from Mills College. His poems have appeared in numerous online and print journals. His first collection of poetry, “Hell’s Bells,” is slated for publication in September. He is Poet Laureate Emeritus of the Napa Valley.
He may be reached at facebook.com/michaelwaterson and on Twitter: @m_waterson.