To Chicago

Into the waiting room, “Good evening.”  “Should be right on-time tonight.”

“I’m going to wait outside, hey, here it comes, is this it?”

The headlight grows brighter coming across the bridge

Growl, Growl, Growl, Growl, four locomotives.

And then the cars, all the same, hoppers, car, car, car, car, filled with coal,

car, car, car, car, long train, car, car, car, car, car, car, gone and you can barely hear it disappear.

A little while and the station door slams behind the agent. “Right on-time.”

There it is, the sound of the air horn at a crossing,

Is this our train?

Blue and white engines, it’s not going to stop, he’s moving too fast.

Express car, baggage car with a man standing in the open door. 

It’s not stopping.

Shiny coaches and then the sound of the brakes.

A long squeal and the second coach stops in front of us.

Quiet and then the sound of the door opening and the steps dropping down.

The conductor steps off and puts down his step box.  .

“Where we going, folks?”


“Up the steps and to your right, watch your step.”

The car is dark with only the blue ceiling lights.

There are two empty seats, I’ll get the window.

Bang, go the steps as they come up and then the thud of the door as it closes.

Silence and then the horn and then nothing and then we’re moving.

The soft horn then crossing lights flash by and again but faster this time.

Just dark fields outside the window.

I’m going to stay up all night, more crossings and cars, why are they out this late?

Crossings and street lights and bright buildings with people who work all night.

“Low-rain, next stop, Low-rain”, but softly so as not to disturb the sleeping passengers.

Some off, some on, bang, thud, horn and we start to move again.

I’m going to stay up all night, but then it’s light and where are we?

Farms and towns and farms and another town and another but bigger and then a rail yard and factories.

“20 minutes, we’ll arrive in about 20 minutes.”

Now we’re racing cars and commuter trains and crossing over every track to every place.

There’s Comiskey, looks strange and green.

We’re getting close.  More trains, gray, silver, red, green, where are they going?

The train starts to crawl coming in, entering the station, creeping and squealing.

“Chi – CAW- Go, this way out.”

We pull our suitcases off the rack and get in the line that winds down the aisle and around the corner to the end of the car.

“Can you manage that suitcase by yourself?”


“Watch your step.”




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