Freedom Train Trilogy Poem by Frank Bana

Freedom Train Trilogy

Rating: 4.5

Freedom Train...

The modest homes of the Borough of Queens
Are sturdy in their contrast to high Manhattan
Across which I saw drifting
The ashen smoke of the fallen towers
From this outpost of the city, a week after 'nine-eleven'

The tallest flagpole you could have imagined
Stands military-straight above a score of tollbooths
And the twelve lane thoroughfare of cars
Makes me feel like a visitor from a previous time -
But it's still that old union flag, however high it stands

Not a seat is empty on this sleek metal tube
That runs on its barely-subsidized tracks
Through a tiny stretch of the vast coastline
Stealing a peek at the brave Atlantic

A child concentrated on video games
Lends no mind to what her father sees. Around them,
Many tongues, ancestries, the faiths -
Fanaticisms held in check
By laws crafted for the needs
Of those who harness this diffusion

The airport which swallows the planes swooping low
Across the municipal towers of Newark
Is named for some primary notion of freedom -
But see, here is a passing Freedom Train
Gliding by the piles of industrial rage,
Seeking better ways and better days.

Train of State....

This train rides hard on buckled tracks
Through countryside so dark of late
Its owner's debt borne on its back
Its debtors all too profligate

Catch this train while best you can
During its long deceleration
Anticipate its sudden fall
Towards a deep degeneration

In service to an indigent nation
Consuming the loans of its eastern station
Secured by traded legislation
Without a brake on its destination.

Few hold great hopes for this railway system
Built by slaves of a penal condition
No-one predicts when the crash may happen
When the rates will soar and the misery deepen.

You boarded on time, the train relenting
To take on stocks. You rightly fear
You will not part so easily
Nor shed all your addictions here

Reassured by the strength of blind momentum
Plowing unrestrained across the plains
No plan on board for contingent moments
Only schedules of secret designs

The train a toy of moneyed ventures
Of who paid what to whom, and how -
Transactions in some currency
That shields them from detection now.

On pain of state investigation
I know I can't enquire, complain
Or claim the right to information
About the intent of this train.

Train of Dreams....

In the village called Mochudi, on the Kalahari fringe
Two sisters, Education Child and Miracle, carry their loads
Of elementary books beside the line of rail, climbing in neat grey uniforms
The hill to school. The single track
Awaits the daily train that hauls the sheep and goats
And owners to the north colonial lands
While in the dry warm hovering air
Infused by levitating specks of sand
Freedom is a perceptible dance

In the Pyrenees, carriages hug the snowy morning hills
Exhausted by the nightlong dash through redolent French fields
Now voices raise a chant in every silenced church
Invading like the lethal sunlight of a summer dawn.
The train descends for the embrace of Spanish plains,
The olive groves of Portugal, carnations from its windows strewn
And gathered by the thirsting wraiths

As the skirts of old Philadelphia unfold
The red-lined slums and drug-imprisoned zones
Snarl below the elevated track,
This line that finds its station
In a history of forgotten slaves, by the cracked bell of Liberty
Where Washington himself owned souls, where the Slave Trade Act
Of 1794 was passed in Congress, where African children
Apprehended from ships were indentured to education
And grew only to glimpse their freedom, to receive two suits of clothes,
One new, one old.

This train conveying dreams on every rack,
In every trunk, conceived by many minds,
Comes to halt in Pennsylvania, but remains primed,
While we its crew
In hope and servitude
Lay sleepers towards new frontiers and stoke
The engines of our dreams.

Brian Dorn 04 May 2006

Frank, you take us on an awesome ride! Historic 'landmarks', some more recent than others, each symbolic with great historical importance. Thanks for the ride! Brian

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