Archive for July, 2010

Where the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad Depot Once Stood in Chetek, Wisconsin

Posted in My Poems on July 30, 2010 by paulscotaugust

Where the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha
Railroad Depot Once Stood in Chetek, Wisconsin

Years later, you return to town under a low-slung
gunmetal sky, park alongside the lumberyard,
walk to the tracks, boots crunching over ballast.
Toward the river you hear the far-off whistle-shriek.
Nothing moves but a sluggish breeze bringing a hint
of fresh oats, isolation and rain. Where Knapp Street
crosses the tracks, the ground is weedy, unused.
The quarry stone foundation has been removed. No trace
of the depot remains, replaced by a gray wooden post
with a white aluminum sign. A styrofoam cup moves
elliptically at your feet. Beneath your boots, even anthills
are abandoned. Thunder arrives over swamps west of town
and the light begins to change. The grain elevator sits empty
along the passing track, the canning factory is boarded up.
Rusting in the weeds, an empty boxcar is home to a tomcat
squatting in its open doorway. Behind you, a child plays
in his backyard who has never waved goodbye from the platform
to a brother leaving for points unknown. He watches you,
hands in pockets, announcing your arrival to no one.

Paul Scot August

Published in Dunes Review, Summer 2010, Volume 15 Issue 1

Nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize

Omaha Railroad Depot, Rice Lake, Wisconsin

Posted in My Poems on July 27, 2010 by paulscotaugust

Omaha Railroad Depot, Rice Lake, Wisconsin

It’s not a cathedral,
no arches or spires
reach up. Just soot-
red brick and grayed wood.
The platform rots in the sun.
The baggage cart, empty.
Rabbits chew dry grasses
from between the rails.
The grain elevator slouches
along the stub-ended siding,
casts a long gray shadow
over a rusting hopper car.
Across the street, the neon sign
of Shirley’s Big ‘O’ beckons
to the ghosts of railroad men
with cold bottles of Grain Belt.
Behind the bar, she wipes
away a single wet circle.

Paul Scot August

Hear me read it on WUWM…

Published in Dunes Review, Summer 2010, Volume 15 Issue 1