so slow that migrants can hop on
in freezing winter to warmer places.
Slow trains rattle and whistle
at street crossings where cars idle.
I hear the slow trains rumbling at night
against the brickwork of abandoned
warehouses and industrial lots: the metal
thuds of slow trains marshaled
for thousands of board-feet of lumber
echo at dawn in the rail yard. Slow trains
linked to push east through the desert
to Winnemucca and Elko, stacked high
with doors and windows like eyes staring
up, open to the sky and frozen nights.
Slow trains sound through my sleep,
creeping past blank squatters shacks
without foundations that tremble
at the heavy steel of loaded carriages.
This town defined by tracks coming
and going, the rails cold with ice
the trains rattling, cars banging
whistles blaring six times a night.
Slow trains pass in the dark, cars
wait while the long trains crawl by.
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 450 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.