Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bill's Railroad

Since taking up model railroading,
William receives a lot of parcels in the mail.
They contain little cars, little engines,
and a little plastic boy carrying a pole and pail.

To his face, the mail lady calls him Bill,
but behind his back she calls him "that old shithead."
She should be kinder; she doesn't know
that when his wife passed, he wished himself dead.

It was the Beverly Hills Express that saved him.

There are trees with lichen leaves,
and a mountain made from papier mache
with a tunnel going through it and
next to that a neatly painted little highway.

Muttering "more crap for this asshole,"
the mail lady arrives with an important addition.
She smiles, he thanks her, and he knows
it is his beautiful plastic lady, arriving in perfect condition.

Bill admires her kick pleat skirt
and her sunny smile which will never fade.
Carefully gluing her feet to the platform,
he offers her his devotion, and a tiny glass of lemonade.

Bless my hobby which has saved my life, he thinks, and bless consistency of scale.

Bill gives his '50s lady a cotton bubble
in which to say anything her heart desires.
What does she say? What do women ever say?
Anyway, they do seem happier talking, and now his town is entire.

She will always stay. Where would she go?
The tracks are circular and end where they began,
so even if she heeds the "all aboard!",
it will always be 1955, in Beverly Hills, and there she'll be again.

for mag 282.


hedgewitch said...

This is both straightforward as a set of endless rails, and enigmatic as the picture. "..Carefully gluing her feet to the platform,
he offers her his devotion, and a tiny glass of lemonade..." the essence for me seems to be that craft, effort, order is all that saves us, some form of creating it, believing in it, bringing it to life, as memory alone is not enough, we must also have 'the consistency of scale.' As always Shay your poem is a narrative of ordinary people illuminated and refracted by the wrinkles of spirit which make them extraordinary.

Charleen said...

I really like the story that you tell here. It reminds one to be kind-to not make assumptions of strangers.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is brilliant. I empathize with Bill - and also with MY mailman, who has suggested, gently, that I might like to visit the annual book sale in our town? LOL.

Kathe W. said...

sweet and sad- love the music to accompany!

Sioux said...

The Nilsson song is perfect for the poem.

Gluing her feet... what a great detail.

Anonymous said...

I love your description of his minature landscape and how it saved him from the woes of the large as life one.

Cloudia said...

deep and well realized

DEE DEE said...

I dont know why, but it gave me an impression of a nice Santa like man
Nice take on the prompt

Blogoratti said...

An amazing read, with a vivid web of thoughts. Greetings!

Gemma Wiseman said...

The concocted feminine presence in his railroad world seems to give him peace. A man adapting to his personal challenge in life. Sad and satisfying, we hope.

Kerry O'Connor said...

First off, I must say that when I saw this pic for The Mag, I thought it was made for you. However, as always, you surprised me with the POV in this poem. The old man, wifeless, abandoned to a hobby which is going nowhere, and the brilliant touch of the tiny female mannequin.

This is like looking through a window at someone's diorama of life. Truly exceptional work.

Elena Sands said...

Love this, great work. I always like a poem that tells a story and the story here is grand. :-)

gautami tripathy said...

What a story! Deep, intriguing and well told..

Here is my take:

​stinging the sin

Kay L. Davies said...

This is wonderful. A model railroad is sometimes the only thing small enough, and at the same time large enough, to help a man's mind get past overwhelming grief.
Good job, Shay. And I hate hate hate that mail lady. LOL
Luv, K

Mama Zen said...

This is so incredibly sad.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Oh, poignant! And thanks for the bonus song I never heard before, and now love - almost as much as I love your old man in the poem.

Anonymous said...
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Susan said...

Love. Sobbing a little, but I'm alone in an institution of healing and would build a track with all those I miss and would wish to see again and again even in a repetition of time. You constantly surprise me. Thank you.

Truedessa said...

This made me feel sad no matter where she goes she will always go around to 1955. Her destiny 1955 I guess.

Michael said...

This hits close to home. That desire to have some control over the mighty forces in our lives that take away our joys and loves is within me as well. The desire for some kind of consistency, to see good for one's life work.

Also notable to me is the fact that it didnt improve his relationship with others. As he strives desperately to find a reason to live, to be happy...he is brought no closer to the fellow humans around him. He is instead a nuisance and frustrating. How sad the world has become....Full of people building model train lives and relating to each other no better for their shared pains.

Sara McNulty said...

What an intriguing tale!

brudberg said...

Somewhere in my past I have a potential Bill.. I grew up with model railroads and at my mother's house we have all the cars and houses... somehow I get Elinor Rigby playing in my head...