Daniel Barlow (a very fine poet) asked me to write about what it was that made me come up with this poem and although I find it hard to make an author connect so much with their writing, others seemed to really appreciate the thoughts behind it. So I share it with you also (but of course don’t feel obliged to read it if you like your own interpretation 🙂 )
‘Daniel asked me to critique my own poem. It felt odd but heydiho, every word is true…
‘if i dreamt, i dreamt a train,’ Paul Squires.
Paul was my mentor and muse. This phrase of his was a favourite and the rhythm in it became a mantra that I twiddle in my head much as you do a favourite line of a song. When a man asked me if I loved him and I said ‘No. I want a man who would chase the train,’ and, of course, he didn’t know what I meant. Perhaps if someone doesn’t know what you mean then they wouldn’t chase it anyway. But I digress…
I read a poem by another fine poet, Daniel Barlow. It was of a partnership where the woman became out of reach and he wanted to call out, to stop her, but he couldn’t. I wanted him to chase her and to beat the bubble ‘til his fists hurt. And I wrote this like a thought that had been brewing for a long time, with barely a moment’s hesitation (very rare for me).
Structurally, there are hard sounds in the first three lines to mirror the pounding of his feet and then they smooth out as he should have taken to the air to magic himself towards her. That thing (his supposed love) is on the train, carrying the wish that (nothing is impossible) and it all stops on that line before rolling on at a slower pace.
As she just watches him become smaller, faraway as the sounds hiss and quieten, she reaches her place alone (he didn’t beat the bubble til his fists hurt), with the stalwart cautionary ending of ‘minding the gap’, making sure that she doesn’t hurt herself as she steps back onto the platform (of her life). Because she’s scared. The kind of woman who can’t trust her own instincts so needs convincing. The pivot in the middle of the (nothing is impossible) is unnecessary but I like it. It appeals that I could add that as a whisper from the right or left ear on a recording. Gotta jazz it up a little to prick them back into paying attention, eh?
The imagery is from dozens of black and white movies where the hero/heroine is on that train and their love is running trying to stop them leaving as the steam rises across the platform and the handkerchief is being waved and they ignore all the disapproving looks of bystanders, haha. Haven’t we all cried over those, just wanting them to jump onto that damned train or go under the wheels as a consequence? That would be a shock ending, eh? Or just be a bit earlier to the damned station for goodness sake.
Two very fine poets, who I am convinced would have adored each other’s work and fought like cat and dog to defend it. I feel completely inadequate in linking their thoughts to mine but I can’t tell a lie or try to take it on myself.
So, thank you to both of them. Their poetry inspires me and is always a treat/privilege to read.
The power of other poets is so important with our own writing…to challenge us and make us go the extra mile. I loved reading your comment and it opened up the poem for me. An extremely interesting process. The poem is perfect.
A fitting tribute to people who’ve inspired you. Full of energy and atmosphere.
You my dear, are a visitor from another era and it’s wonderful. So often when I read your poetry I see it as a movie, an actual film, the subjects are that alive. Now, I’m going to read one of those poets who inspired you and then reread your other inspiration and muse, Mr. Squires. 🙂
Brilliant! I agree… it is full of energy and atmosphere.
I’m seeing the red signal light. It must be the tracks are out ahead.
No need to try and catch the train. Because as Emily Dickinson said
In her poem she wrote about the end of journeys, I shall soon be free…
“Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.”
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