A Boy and a Train

Posted in Readings From The Seven Shepherds | The Writings of Lonny


I don't know the date, but I was seven or eight
When we moved from the Midwest plains
To the Cascade Range, where the foothills boast
Tall mountains, like Shuksan.

We found a home out there, amidst fresh mountain air,
Where pine forests never end,
In a western land, with a vista grand,
Where the clouds and the mountains blend.

Its deceptive skies fill your mind with lies.
The horizon seems to flow.
Your eyes can't tell the ocean's swell
From the clouds, or the mountain snow.

We traveled out west on my mother's quest
To leave our city life of ease.
She believed in her heart, that with a brand new start
She might heal her from her dread disease.

She sought cleaner air, because her lungs were frail,
With disease, which soon would kill her.
And we rode a train you will know by name;
It was the mighty Empire Builder.

The scenes I saw from the railroad car
Filled my heart with boyish wonder.
I saw wolves and elk and mountain goats,
As I rode those wheels of thunder.

I was nearly asleep as we reached a peak
At a place that's call Gold Basin.
But when our Porter spoke I became alert
To a marvelous revelation.

There's an eight-mile tunnel that goes through the heart
Of a mountain of solid stone,
Which he wanted me to witness for my own self;
It's a sight some have never known.

Porter came back around when we stopped at a town,
Where he said we would stay until nine.
So, should we leave the train, to hurry back again,
Or we'd Risk getting left behind.

I stayed on the train, seeing nothing gained,
With only ten minutes to roam.
There was mom and me, and my sister Sharee',
But My brother went off all alone!

Why Danny left the train is still not plain;
I guess he wanted to scout things out.
He was in a shop filled with souvenirs
When they gave the "All aboard!" shout.

But my brother, Dan, never heard a thing,
He was awed with rich emotion.
His mind was filled with strange new sights,
Not the sound of a train in motion.

When we saw him from from the dining car--
Mother called to pull the brake chain.
Some folks took bets that a boy of ten
Could never out-run a train.

Have you ever felt fear like a winter's chill
On a dog-day's summer night?
Have you lost all hope, knew you couldn't cope,
In the face of terrible fright?

Have your knees ever swayed in a rubbery way?
Have you paled, thinking all's in vain?
Then you'll know about the fright a boy felt that night,
When he raced to catch a train.

Danny nearly fell, but he ran quite well
As he sprinted for the gate
Of the train's caboose, where conductors roost.
They pulled him in like he had no weight.

I was proud that day when folks had to pay
Money lost, when they bet on the train.
Because my brother had won his race against time,
While I basked in the glow of his fame.

And I bask today in a similar way,
When my world gets out of kilter.
I remember how a boy once raced a train,
And beat the mighty Empire builder


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About the Author

Londis Carpenter

Londis Carpenter

Londis Carpenter is a published poet and author. He began his writing career at age sixty, after friends and relatives asked him to put his stories and poems into written form. This effort resulted in his first book, Sketches From Life, which received a five star rating from Midwest book Review - (READ MORE)

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