I Saw a Giant Train
by Red Was Iceblue

I saw a giant train come out of blue and purple light,
the colours of its cars, red, yellow, orange, black and white.
It seemed gargantuan and powerful, a forceful shape,
about to take the World on in one horrendous rape.
I saw a Christlike figure standing on the station deck,
a T turned from technology, a knowledge out of Tech.
The two could not be further from each other in that space,
machine and man, th’ ungodly and the spirit in one place.
I saw a cataclysmic vision painted on a page.
It seemed to speak succinctly for the Nightmare of our Age.

 

The Fireman
by Reid Wes Cuebal

I saw the fireman next to a fire hydrant post.
He had connected up his hose. The place was hot as toast.
Bright orange flames were burning wildly out of control.
He took his hose and sprayed and sprayed. He sprayed with lots of soul.
He kept his hose secure and firm, so ‘t would not move about.
What was the chance that he could put that blazing fire out?
The gushing, rushing, flushing force was more than most could take,
but sturdily he kept it up, though he began to bake.
He got so hot he thought he ought to back off from the heat,
but he would go until the job he worked on was complete.
 

I Saw a Poem by Red Was Iceblue
by Lew Icarus Bede

I came across a recent poem by rarely published poet and art critic Red Was Iceblue. His work generally lies in the niche of ekphrastic poetry of the last 100 years, with a focus on Modernist, Postmodernist, and New Millennial painting; but it can range to other concerns. Here is the poem I came across:

I Saw a Giant Train

I saw a giant train come out of blue and purple light,
the colours of its cars, red, yellow, orange, black and white.
It seemed gargantuan and powerful, a forceful shape,
about to take the World on in one horrendous rape.
I saw a Christlike figure standing on the station deck,
a T turned from technology, a knowledge out of Tech.
The two could not be further from each other in that space,
machine and man, th’ ungodly and the spirit in one place.
I saw a cataclysmic vision painted on a page.
It seemed to speak succinctly for the Nightmare of our Age.

The structure of the poem, a tennos, is fairly simple, ten lines, five couplets of iambic heptameter, a terse, succinct lyric. The poem opens simply and quietly, as if a nursery rhyme, or a poem by Stephen Crane or William Mearns. (I am also reminded of Invictus by Henley.) As not untypical in a Red Was Iceblue poem, it is a vision and it starts out with colour, particularly, an atmosphere of blue and purple light, cool and darker colours. But the train itself has cars of many colours—this is not realism, but rather expressionism. Although I know no human being on the planet (other than Red Was Iceblue!) is red or yellow, black or white, I can’t help but feel, with the addition of orange (no colour of anybody either), this is an indirect allusion to humanity. This is definitely a different kind of a train.

It seemed gargantuan and powerful, a forceful shape,
about to take the World on in one horrendous rape.

That reading certainly lends itself to that. But the train is assuredly more than that, because it also is representative of technology, one of the poem’s actual words. The train is contrasted with the Christlike figure, which I imagine, appears with hands outstretched as if on a cross, “a T,” at the station, turned away from the train. The phrase “a knowledge out of Tech,” could refer to spiritual knowledge not within the realm of technology, or, perhaps surpisingly, deriving from it. I think both meanings there, considering both the T itself, and the next, paradoxical couplet (my italics).

The two could not be further from each other in that space,
machine and man, th’ ungodly and the spirit in one place.

Another structural element of the poem is its repetition of the neatly placed phrase, “I saw a,” at lines one, five and nine, which serves as a link, broken down into three parts, the train, the Christlike figure, and the cataclysmic vision itself, which is a mixture of human and machine, spirit and matter, maybe even energy and mass. But what is the vision? and why is it cataclysmic, that is, devastating or dreadful? Is it pollution of some sort? Is it a destructive materialism? Is it technological advancment? or all of those, and more? Whatever the vision, it breeds uneasiness. After all, it is (my italics again),”The Nightmare of our Age.” But exactly what it is, is very hard to put one’s finger on, and not worth an unproductive effort.

 

Bruce Dale Wise is a poet living in Washington State who often writes in anagrammatic pseudonyms.

Featured Image: Steam Engine Crossing the River Douglas. Artist Unknown.


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