A. A. Hedge Coke

For Evangeline Apache

snow on the coal
car         white on
black, brown,
red and orange-yellow
steel forged for
rail         the box
cars' siding
walls         cross
intersection         pass
Cerrillos and St. Fran
reading signs
translating message
    between lines
courage, mystique
Union Pacific
Santa Fe Southern
rail             road
sound     resounds
echos     clang
bangs     jarring
abrupt clamoring
wheels slide
steel bar     wooden
beam     laced with
creosote you cannot
burn for wood no matter
how cold     you become in
winter     the fumes'
noxious         choke breath
away at night on
unfamilar and ignorant
mighty immense
rail         laid into
track     supporting cars,
boxes, passengers, freight
trains     ancient photographs
document paintings
Taos Peoples
advertise Santa Fe
Rail         home to
Southwestern Indians
to Cowboys
to Spainards
to rich white, white
Anglos     including
Georgia O'Keefe
or was that
Kit Carson
selling off those
so personal intricate
pieces of art and
artworks         jewelry
traditional clothing
on the plaza     walks
hanging over a clothing
rail     iron rack suspending
works and wares
above cloths, blankets, rugs
under display
earthen ware
tender silver pieces
no not silver,     greenbacks
representing gold
supposedly in mints
from mines supported by
rail         from long, long ago
riding by those
incredible beasts and creatures
frozen         or turned to dust
and stone         in another time
those that the anthros
think formations
they watch with great
no, enormous
humor         they stare at the
rail         being ridden by
so         so         many for so long now
waiting patiently         knowing
all will pass         as did they
in the exact measure
designated span length
bridging rivers         with vast
rich flowing, raging histories
succumbed to dust
arroyos     and such ravines
playing havoc on the telepathic
sensory perceptions
relaying focus to
perspective     in pointillistic
existence     waters remain
unscathed away from the effects
on the environment from the
rail         ever moving onward
even in repair and         renewal
directions         four cardinal point
ambush         on beauty
not so very distant from here
where we observe this
masterpiece in steel composition
harboring ghost
hobos from eras all but dim
in view     recent recollection
practice     losing legs to catch a
rail         near the New Mexico
School for the Deaf
crosswalk         where
sculptures intrigue a better
answer to The End of the Trail
showing rather         an Indian man
raising his hands high
including buffalo skull
in prayer         his horse
following     the preliminary
works'     show of defeat
however         hope
overrides         defeat     always
somehow         even here with
ear to ground in center
Santa Fe         even here
hope is here on this
lonesome         familiar
almost dated
yet never defeated

You can hear the poet read Rail in a RealAudio file. If you do not have the RealPlayer installed, visit RealNetworks. From Neon Powwow edited by Anna Lee Walters, Northland Press.
© 1993 A. A. Hedge Coke
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