Midwest Passage

On Amtrak waiting
for a freight train to pass
at one particular place.

Gravel railbed
hardy sedges
long ditchgrass

with seeds like eyebrows
browngrass with feathery tips
and corn tall and tasseled.

The freight is passing.
A queasy close-by
loseyourhead feeling.

Boxcars and tankers
tankers and boxcars
flashing light at brief intervals

like days or thumbed pages.
Then we’re off again
speeding through the corn —

rows of green leaves
and brown tassels —
iridescent corduroy blur.


About Ray Sharp

Father, poet, triathlete, local public health planner
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22 Responses to Midwest Passage

  1. A simple, breezy moment so eloquently expressed. ~peace, Jason

  2. shanyns says:

    Love this, been there on the train. Well done.

  3. brian miller says:

    a simple pause in life…sometimes not such a bad thing you know…like catching your breath before moving on….

  4. things like the eyebrows – they seem so simple once you’ve translated the image for us. But then I wonder – did he ponder those seed sprouts or the corn tassels? Did he have a sudden vision in the time between sleep and consciousness that caused him to leap out of bed and make a quick note of this? Or did he just sit down to write about the train and suddenly channel some unknown entity who said “they are like eyebrows. write it down.”? You really put some incredibly thoughty images out here for us, my friend.

    • Ray Sharp says:

      I just wrote it down as the train was stopped, waiting for the freight to pass. and then it did. and away we went. freight has the right of way over passenger. coal before people, you know

  5. janehewey says:

    ooh, corduroy blur… great line. and a strong poem.

  6. Marya says:

    Ray, this felt like a song — rhythmic, melodic. Lovely. And I could hear the train too. Good to have you back.

  7. Gay says:

    Love the feel of this: the textures so immediate, and the physical feel throughout. Very imagistic and sensuous. Great work.

  8. Green Passport Honda Green Passport

  9. zouxzoux says:

    A perfect description of the passing countryside from Amtrak. I also feel the same weirdness when hurtling so closely to other trains. Very well done, Ray.

  10. I especially like the final five lines.

  11. Love the mixture of the modern Amtrak meeting the rustic freight train. This took me back, in a delightful “loseyourhead feeling” sort of way 🙂

  12. SSMatthews says:

    great scenes of that part of the country, well done.

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