Poem to the End of My Days
Selections from Rondo Two: Transport
Jacob Russell


A transport one cannot contain
May yet a transport be – E.D.


September, 2010
It was a long & difficult journey …
                      …snow everywhere, outcome uncertain, lights in the window of a single
                      house beside the abandoned tracks play across the fields

                      Think of this as a movie

                      a young widow is rocking a cradle but the child is unresponsive
                                  in the movie we would make love
                                  she would serve (me) warm milk
                                  but how can we make love beside a dying child
                      (I) wait so long before (I) dare to knock we both grow old in the
                      the child recovered long ago & owns a café in Vancouver
                      she holds a letter to the light       it was not what she expected


It's so easy to misread the signs

                      we should have gotten off at the last exit      moths splatter on the
                      windshield      miles to go before we can turn around           she is
                      beside (me) as (I) drive but
                                  (I've) forgotten her name
                      she reassures (me) it's not unusual to dream of your parents
                                  long after they've died

                      (I) live in a city but (my) dreams are
                      of forests & lakes

                      (I) arrive at an abandoned railroad station
                                  cornflowers grow between the ties
                                  an ancient locomotive blacks out the sun



February 22, 2011
I have learned that I can breathe …
                      …but the smallest part    & learn from that
                      to make do without sinking back into my own
                      The train itself     endures    moribund in spite of all
                      we have left undone     even after the snow has melted & the wars
                      have faded into the distance in the quiet of a new morning

                      we trace their form with our fingers      like braille
                      Aztec patterns on station walls     art deco
                      letters impressed in the same clay as we
                      ourselves     as we might once have
                      to become



February 22,2011
Though we appear to remain in place…
                      …horizons recede & advance     lakes forests, cities as fields
                      of light from the observation deck appear &

                      conductors move from car to car having long since abandoned their uniforms    
                      crumbling pyramids encrusted with vines
                      to remind us

                      like the gods who once ascended & descended their steps
                      we have no home in the world
                      no distant star beckons us thither


In the waiting room &...
                      ...the blue lights & embarkation delayed & your bags at your feet &
                      the bus to the wrong city outside the window
                      & the man from Texas telling yet again the same story &
                      the announcer droning on in a language you can't make out...
                      ...but who is to say --
                      who is to say
                      what city is right or tell you where to get off --
                      or what wholly unanticipated byway far from the beaten path will
                      turn out to be the very place you have seen these past thousand & one
                      in your dreams only to be forgotten by morning & recognized here
                      for the first time here
                      in this place
                      here where you have
                      never in your life felt more alone or further from what anyone has ever
                      called home?



February 25, 2011
Her best assets ...
                      ,,, were my undoing...
                      how was I to know      riding the rails, how years
                      would interweave their fables

                      the luminous burst over the desert
                      that radiant simile
                      for all that comes undone

                      no metaphor       obsidian blade
                      heart in hand

                      priests of the sun



So said the old man...
                      ... in the isle seat pushing off a second shoe with his stockinged
                      foot I've raised four shires my three girls & Cesar-Romero 18
                      hands at the shoulder pull three loaded freight cars without breaking
                      a sweat gentle as a lamb lest you should be so foolish as to stand
                      tween him & his desires in a season of love


Any Mild Day in February
Seasons are always passing & …
                      …enduring changing & always the same like the kitchen
                      where you made coffee this morning where you sat as a
                      child when it was snowing & now the snow is almost gone
                      as though you were moving from one climate zone to another
                      which in a sense you are think of the planet as a train in
                      space dragging time in its wake or a sailing ship not driven
                      by but enveloped in the solar wind imprecise as any metaphor



Imprecise as any metaphor...
                      ...the way all kitchens have come to conform to a model
                      whose origin it’s possible to locate
precisely in history but
                      no longer in space or time just as & no more than the moment
                      remembered now only as a general idea when you heard the
                      kettle whistle on the stove & the cat leapt from your knee as
                      you rose cup in hand & the porter gazed from the Pullman car
                      at fields of stubble corn glinting like cut glass in the afternoon
                      sun not far from Dongola Illinois in 1906 your grandfather
                      watching from a stand of bare trees where he’d been hunting


Where he'd been hunting rabbits...
                      not all that long ago thinking of his mother in the kitchen by
                      the stove& realizing how hungry he is the two rabbits warm
                      against his leg where he’d tied them to his belt & knowing
                      he would have to clean them before he could sit down to
                      eat because of the unseasonably mild air for a day so very
                      late in February

Where every journey ends, she said…
                      …that beatific smile in answer to my

                      fill in the blank


                      to represent the sky – blue-black at night      accidental lineament of stars –
                      the feathered priest ascending stone by stone bright points of light
                      at hip at heel at hand – all parts to fade with dawn
                      faiful servant Silverheels will take what roles he can – Power
                      too must hide his want – the double-play dealt out to setting stars

                      making out at drive-ins – grandmother’s 52’ Chevy not far from where
                      we’ll all be buried when the game is up



Journal: U.S. 80, July 1988
Youngstown sky like a water color still wet...
                      … farms & factories cranes jutting up through the mist a bank of
                      cloud  crossing the Meander river
                      daylit landscape spills out across Ohio

                      tiles in men's room Ohio Turnpike like cross sections of organs
                      micro-photos blood cells red with tint of
                      iodine coffee apple turnover
                      quart of oil
                      16 miles to Toledo
                      misty & overcast after night of rain

                      home trip drive alone with trailer last of my parent's
                      behind my father's


                      funeral was Tuesday