Poetics: Thieves

i still long to fall asleep
to the soft, reassuring rattling of the rails,
tiny girl, tousled hair & mind

with rosy cheeks, i’m wandering
like the queen of mysteries
through tenderly vibrating wagons,

masked as Hercule Poirot
this is the Orient Express,
surveying secrets while the land flies by,

quiet and greased with fingerprinted paintings,
heated forehead tightly pressed against the glass

i’m thinking of Meg Ryan and this off-beat guy
smuggling vine to plant his future
and they kissed and kissed and–

Erich Kästner’s Emil on his ride to Berlin,
pinning hundred D-Mark to his jacket & he still
gets robbed while sleeping, i–

rub my eyes,

tack my dreams with safety pins close to my heart,
stitch them carefully onto my skin and

watch the rails race by
on magic places of my early childhood,
this is – yes – through open toilet lids

i shudder in deep awe each time i flush,
a hundred times, speed-sick,
secret time machines, weird dreams,
i travel to another life, it’s

occupied, so STOP the knocking, locked
onto the way to freedom, tied up with all
fairy tales i never wrote because they
scattered on the rails, who can
tell? what—

if i fell?

Mom knocks me off my thoughts, next
day we gonna read the newspaper report:
queues in front of train WC’s can gain the length
of russian pipelines, all because of
fantasizing kids, someone gotta stop this trend
before it undermines the fragile blinds of
modern, hard to reign society, so–

“did you wash your hands?”

i nod but – –

you can never be sure

.

some footnotes on this…

D-Mark is the currency we had in Germany before the introduction of the Euro,
Emil and the detectives by Erich Kästner is on of my most-loved books from childhood, you should really read it…even if you’re grown-up…
and i used to travel a lot by train when i was a kid and have always been fascinated by these old train toilets – when you flushed, you saw the tracks…frightening and magical at the same time…

been thinking on all this on my train ride from Rome to Grosseto a few weeks ago..it was an old train and i was wondering if they still may have these open toilets…but didn’t check it out because i thought otherwise i would never get out there again, may would’ve started to dream..and surely forgot to wash my hands…smiles

now this is my entry for today’s poetics prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub…and it’s my pleasure to be your host.. gates open 3 pm EST

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60 responses to “Poetics: Thieves

  1. A gem! You invested your talent in this poetic composition. Discerners of great poetry will affirm my sentiment, Claudia. This piece represents why I have come to love your poetry. More, more, more…

  2. I love French Kiss … and anything Meg Ryan, in fact!

    This piece was gripping and held my breath the whole way through. These are some of my favorite words:

    “tiny girl, tousled hair & mind”

    “surveying secrets while the land flies by,”

    “tack my dreams with safety pins close to my heart,
    stitch them carefully onto my skin”

    “this is – yes – through open toilet lids

    i shudder in deep awe each time i flush,
    a hundred times, speed-sick,”

    “before it undermines the fragile blinds of
    modern, hard to reign society, so–

    ‘did you wash your hands?'”

    Brilliant work, as always, Claudia.

  3. Claudia, as usual another stellar write. Really enjoyed the backstory, which I have to admit clued me in to a better understanding. Never knew toilets on trains were like that- Wow, I agree both scary and fascinating. Thanks for the read

  4. nice…the line about grease fingerprint paintings…that is where you grabbed me first…there is a bit of magic in this today claudia….even the toilet…smiles. would love to ride a train to feel its sway and all the power pulling….

  5. Not wash your hands ewww..haha…have never ridden in a train before, you sure delved right into it with this piece though. Can’t say I’d find something magical about the toilets though, but is does sorta sound like you’re almost going right out the window..haha

  6. Thanks for the authors notes. They took this piece from abstract to magical for me. I know how it is to slip back into the girl child’s mind. I like where yours goes very much.

  7. Vivid–i can see the rails passing underneath while one sits exposed but safe above–love how your fairytales all go that route, yet spring up ever new here in your poetry–and the Orient express–saw that red dragon kimono in my mind’s eye, disappearing into a locked compartment. Fun and totally immersive train ride, Claudia, and the ending made me laugh out loud–thanks for buying us a ticket.

  8. I found it interesting that your piece took place on the train, yet it wasn’t the description of one particular trip. It was the imaginations of a girl, fantasies, thoughts going in and out, and then to reality.

  9. Bravo Poet! Once again alive with colour, music, sound, engaging all senses. Always, always a pleasure (all be it an intimidating one! lol) and loved your video share…a favorite song, sung by a favorite poet!

  10. The lull of daydream is invoked here, rocked gently by a train’s passage, passing landscape merging with passing thoughts, accompanying the traveler through life from here to there. Thanks for the reminder not to walk those rails.

  11. the hypnotic drift of trains and all they inspire – great prompt claudia – great poem

    you may need to buy a bigger suit case for the return trip – i love swiss chocolate ha ha ha – thanks for the link fix – i have to use dragon voice software and im having teething problems

    all aboard

  12. Airline travel has lost all of the glamour it used to have – but trains, trains have held on to something, even in the United States. Even with the reality of waiting in line for the WC.

    Good poem, Claudia.

  13. What lovely memories. Where I was born we had a famous steam train called The Brighton Belle, was pretty famous in its time.
    Lovely entry and, I watched the video of you singing, you have a lovely voice!

  14. Loved it all; I have great childhood memories of trains and train whistles; my grandparents lived two streets away from the Santa Fe tracks and when I was there we’d fall asleep to their sounds and dream of going to far off places. I wonder if that’s why I still love to travel so much. Thank you for the great piece, that worked us into the fabric of your dreams. G.

  15. It’s very blood thirsty but if you can get past the gore, it shows how little they valued life then and is very raw and liberal with its sex scenes and language. Phew! Great show though! You’d need to see it from the start of season 1 b/c you’d need to know the characters stories etc. Glad you’re interested. Fabulous series. Waiting now for the new one coming in Jan 2012 with a new guy as Spartacus.

  16. I love the reminisce(sp)…melancholy. My dad loved trains. I always think of the Paul Simon song…”Train in the distance”…the howl of the train immediately brings the onset of reflection. Thanks for this piece. Scanning the comments I saw a bunch of people that I miss!

  17. Bonjour! Claudia,
    “i still long to fall asleep
    to the soft, reassuring rattling of the rails,
    tiny girl, tousled hair & mind…

    [I love the fact, that you shared your dream(s) with your readers, and then was awaken from your day-dream with…]

    “Mom knocks me off my thoughts,
    so–“did you wash your hands?”
    i nod but – you can never be sure”

    Once again, your poetic words are beautiful and I too have watched the film “French Kiss” and have enjoyed viewing the film. However, I have never read the book “Emil and the detectives by Erich Kästner. Therefore, I must seek this book out to read too!
    Merci,
    deedee 😉

  18. I did enjoy Hercule P’s books – read them all. Enjoyed that trip to your childhood memory, whimsical and endearing….

    Like these lines:

    tack my dreams with safety pins close to my heart,
    stitch them carefully onto my skin and

    watch the rails race by
    on magic places of my early childhood

  19. tack my dreams with safety pins close to my heart,
    stitch them carefully onto my skin and

    watch the rails race by
    on magic places of my early childhood,
    this is – yes – through open toilet lids

    Such a great turn, a true to childhood absurdity (I’m always surprised at how much young children really see and how uniquely. Loved its lull, its speed, its noise, and most of all its fun.

  20. I can’t believe you wrote about the toilets too… Ha! =) Who da thunk it? We were both little girls on trains in different countries with the same (well, almost) memory. hmm.
    And that movie scene… one of my absolute all time favorites. Oh, that kiss.
    I’m pinning this one close to my heart.

  21. This is a wonderful evocation of memory and association…just love how you string them all together and make a beautiful web of coherance… language surprises and therefore captivates…

    through tenderly vibrating wagons,

    … your love affair with trains is palpable…

  22. Love your persona as the queen of mysteries…lovely way to begin a journey! This train ride sparkles with the joy of adventure and closes with a touch of water we all have heard as a child!

  23. It seems many train connections are memories, and vintage at that. I have toilet memories myself, a train from Istanbul to somewhere in eastern Turkey, and the bathroom sinks were the urinals of choice, apparently, godawful.

    Love how you tacked your dreams with safety pins to your heart!

    Thanks for hosting a great event today. It’s fun to ride the dVerse train.

  24. Clouds Ma’am,
    When we were up Mt Pilatus, it was cold and covered with snow. We went up to the restaurant but couldn’t view the scenery beyond just the surroundings. Anything more higher up?

    You’ve been up there so many times! You know I met a Swiss guy by chance only 2 weeks ago. He said he hadn’t been up there, too expensive! Maybe so during the summer. I’m not sure what we paid. It’s been a long time. I think we paid nothing as we had a kind of rail Euro pass allowing us unlimited rail use. We even went up to Lugano for lunch not really knowing what to expect! We were then holed up at Engelberg.

    Hank

  25. I’ve only been on a train once or twice, when I was a kid, but I enjoyed this nonetheless. Great ride. I really love the lines “tack my dreams with safety pins close to my heart, / stitch them carefully onto my skin”. Just beautiful.

  26. Claudia, I’m not sure how to do this. I don’t have your e-mail address anymore. So I’ll just ask you here.

    I cannot find a way to comment on Arron Shilling’s blog. I’ve tried numerous times with WordPress, Google, etc. but can’t make it stick. I saw that you have no problem, though. Would you let him know? I might not be the only limited reader with so much to say but no way to mak it happen. I’d e-mail him if I had his address.

  27. Well written and what about the things we remember? I could see you as a child on the trains, I suppose it is a lot like putting our children on their big yellow school buses here!
    Loved the ride and miss them and the old Europe, totally…You know the whole year I was trekking around over there; I never even popped into one of the toilets on the train that is. Old or new, so I could not say, one way or number 2? LOL

  28. movie scenes came to my mind too when I thought of the word train, there’s one with Kate Capshaw and Dennis Quaid, very steamy, can’t remember the title of the movie though

  29. occupied, so STOP the knocking, locked
    onto the way to freedom, tied up with all
    fairy tales i never wrote because they
    scattered on the rails…

    me too!!! not only on the train… 🙂 same with my kids… lol… I here them telling stories and singing out loud…
    love Emil and… LOVE this ride!

    Thank you!
    ~deb

  30. You brought back memories of my riding the train in the Midwest, USA, Milwaukee to LaCrosse on the Hiawatha. I’d forgotten about the visions thru the toilet seats …indeed a sight for childhood travelers☺. I traveled alone, in custoday of the conductor to be let off at the roundhouse where my engineer grandfather would be waiting. I loved to walk the trains length, car to car then back to my seat.

    Thanks for the memories.
    ☮ Siggi in Downeast Maine, USA

  31. hahahahaha! Claudia that just tickled me to no end! How incredibly imaginative and playful! Taking a ride with the imagination of that little girl is just adorable! And the ending!!!! Fantasizing kids queuing up the WC’s and reading it in the news is absolutely juvenile and delicious by itself, but then adding the sneaky little thing’s quandary of hand washing just made this poem dearly perfect! It is the cutest read of my day, and of course it came from Miss Claudia! This was a fun ride…..

  32. i really enjoy the collage of images that you present in this poem as well as the tension between the pop culture (Meg Ryan) and the classic antiquity (Heracule) it offers an interesting view of history as perhaps cyclical in the sense that all is connected, both the past and present. Very T.S. Eliot or William Butler Yeats like.

  33. I do not think a poem about trains could be any fuller than yours. It is admirable that you remember how you felt as a child riding trains and have filled the poem with that childlike wonder. I think it is definitely epic.

    Am late in getting around to reading last week’s prompt by you, and wanted to thank you so much for your kind comments at my blog. 🙂