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Overture To A Dance Of Locomotives

Written by: William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Biography
 | Quotes (28) |
 Men with picked voices chant the names 
of cities in a huge gallery: promises 
that pull through descending stairways 
to a deep rumbling. 

 The rubbing feet 
of those coming to be carried quicken a 
grey pavement into soft light that rocks 
to and fro, under the domed ceiling, 
across and across from pale 
earthcolored walls of bare limestone. 

Covertly the hands of a great clock 
go round and round! Were they to 
move quickly and at once the whole 
secret would be out and the shuffling 
of all ants be done forever. 

A leaning pyramid of sunlight, narrowing 
out at a high window, moves by the clock: 
disaccordant hands straining out from 
a center: inevitable postures infinitely 
repeated— 
 two—twofour—twoeight! 
Porters in red hats run on narrow platforms. 
This way ma'am! 
 —important not to take 
the wrong train! 
 Lights from the concrete 
ceiling hang crooked but— 
 Poised horizontal 
on glittering parallels the dingy cylinders 
packed with a warm glow—inviting entry— 
pull against the hour. But brakes can 
hold a fixed posture till— 
 The whistle! 

Not twoeight. Not twofour. Two! 

Gliding windows. Colored cooks sweating 
in a small kitchen. Taillights— 

In time: twofour! 
In time: twoeight! 

—rivers are tunneled: trestles 
cross oozy swampland: wheels repeating 
the same gesture remain relatively 
stationary: rails forever parallel 
return on themselves infinitely. 



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