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Iron Horses

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Below is the poem entitled Iron Horses which was written by poet Bob Quigley. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Iron Horses

I would be so excited, standing there on the railroad platform, holding my mothers hand.  I had waited for this day.  A chance to ride the train to Boston.  Impatiently, from time to time, I would lean forward to peer down the track, as if willing the train to arrive.

I heard it before I saw it.  First the dinging as the crossing gates lowered, signaling it's approach.  Then the scream of the steam whistle and the vibration in the rails.  Finally, the choo-chooing as the black behemoth slowed, and the engineer rung the bell, signaling their arrival.  Often he would wave and I would wave back.  Finally, with steam hissing from the brakes, they would stop, and the smell of coal smoke would fill the air.  

We would wait for the conductor in his black suit and hat to step down and place a stool at the foot of the stairs to the passenger car.  Even then, it was a big step and he would usually lift me under my arms and place me on the landing, then turn to assist my mothers assent.  Once aboard, I would choose our seat.  If possible, I always chose one with an unoccupied seat next to it.  By so doing, I was able to switch the seat back so that I could ride facing my mother, but more importantly, backward.  For some reason, that was part of the thrill of the trip.

Soon, we would hear the “All aboard” called out by the conductor and feel the initial jolt as the train began to move, the chugging growing faster.  I would listen to the measured click of the wheels as they moved over the breaks in the rails.  Once up to speed, that sound, like the cadence of a metronome, was almost mesmerizing, as the car swayed gently as if keeping time.

That was a magic time.  An adventure to be savored.  However, sometime in the ensuing years, those times disappeared and assumed the role of memories.  Today, I see mothers, holding their child’s hands as they wait to board the Amtrak.   Perhaps there is still an excitement there, but it is not the same. And I suspect the engineer doesn't wave anymore.

Copyright © Bob Quigley

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  1. Date: 2/6/2012 9:30:00 AM
    Ok now I'm teary eyed ( and please believe me I've toughened up since reading poetry so much) but your narrative skill lead me through your memories yet shared mine too. I remember leaning looking and willing. I also remember hating travelling backwards through Holland as a child (feeling get queasy ) A beautiful nostalgia write. Am off to think of the coal yards that backed our line... Thanks lots Karen

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 2/6/2012 11:00:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I'm glad my memories reached out and touched yours. They are all a part of who we are. Thanks for taking the time to tell me your story.
    Deeks Avatar Karen Deeks
    Date: 2/6/2012 9:31:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    lovely title too
  1. Date: 1/31/2012 10:55:00 PM
    wow, this is one awesome nostalgia piece, Bob. you are giving away your age!! Gosh, my mom left my dad when I was five and took me and my three sisters back to Iowa on a train. And I rode them a few other times but I think they were not exactly like this one you describe. But even the kind I rode on, they are becoming a thing of the past. I love those trains. Such a comfortable way to travel. You will only have those memories, like with so many other things in life!!

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 2/1/2012 8:34:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you Andrea. I loved those old trains.
  1. Date: 1/31/2012 4:44:00 PM
    Bob, I so much love your stories. I hope you have grand kids to share them with, but actually you do because no matter what our age on the soup we sit on uncle Bob's knee and ask for more. You Friend, Craig

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 1/31/2012 5:14:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you Craig. You just paid me the greatest complement
  1. Date: 1/28/2012 11:02:00 PM
    Today, those cars are so sleek and the track is so smooth, it feels as if I am moving along in an airplane. This is a good descriptive write Bob.

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 1/29/2012 8:05:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    All the romance is gone. I miss it
  1. Date: 1/28/2012 2:53:00 PM
    |A Norman Rockwell painting for sure. Filled with memories of a time lost to us and relived in our memories. Too ad our kids can't experience such wonderful times. Great job here Bob. God Bless, JB

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 1/28/2012 3:00:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks Judy. There are some things better then a Tweet.
  1. Date: 1/28/2012 1:25:00 PM
    Bob, times have changed so much. Did you ever hear the Arlo Guthrie or Willie Nelson versions of "City of New Orleans." It's about how trains are going out of vogue. I sure would have loved to be aboard one of the old trains that carried settlers from the East to the Wild West. You description of the train is touching and the entire piece is wonderfully nostalgic. Love, Carolyn

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 1/28/2012 2:11:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yes, I am very familiar with Willies version. One of my favorites actually. I'm glad this piece had some meaning for you Carolyn.
  1. Date: 1/28/2012 12:03:00 PM
    I've never been on a train, but you have brought it to life for me with your excellent writing. Enjoyed! Hugs, Catie :)

    Quigley Avatar Bob Quigley
    Date: 1/28/2012 12:42:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I'm sorry you have not experienced it. Maybe some day. Thanks for stopping by Catie