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A Long Train Weaves Slowly Through the Kansas City Night

David F Williams, PhD, DSc, FREng, FLSW
Author, Scientist & Consultant

The Midwest does not connote hedonism or even excitement. Kansas City is not a favourite destination, even for just one night in a downtown hotel, but where better to relive some long-forgotten dreams?

A Long Train Weaves Slowly Through the Kansas City Night

Immediately deep sleep
Then lighter
Then deeper again
The past returns
As always in distorted form
Turn over, and again and again
Troubled sleep is no friend
Everything moving, coming and going
Mostly coming, towards you
You’re in the way, whatever you do
Wherever you turn, you’re in the way
The trucks, the planes, the cycles, the runners

You’re always in their way
People you once knew
Push you into their way
Converging on you
But keeping you asleep, just,
Until you go deeper and quieter again

Now comes the train
Not the lyrical Chattanooga or San Fernando
But the fearful, frightful freight
Miles between engine and caboose
Of lumber, coal, steel and grain
No escaping this
You are right in the way
Petrified between rails unable to move

The deadly concoction
Of sound and silence
Across the plains it came
Weaving slowly downtown
A mile from the hotel bed
Where sleep had been possible
Troubled, but now uncertain
The haunting whistle
Announcing arrival in the city
What is it? I must be in the way
No, it’s all right, the silence of midnight
Lulls you back into a fitful sleep

The next crossing, more screeching
Again the brain responds
Fear and partial awakening
Trembling, shivering in the heat
Prayers demand silence
Which announces itself eerily
The nerves await the next bend
Rumble after rumble
Minutes, maybe hours churn by
Awake, fear; asleep fear
Where is the difference?
The border between reality and nowhere is so small

The long train wanders by
Am I the only one to be troubled
To vacillate among the ’wake and the dead
As it shunts forward
Leaving the trail of shattered thought
Departing the city, to Chicago and beyond
Awaiting the sunrise and the real awakening
Distant thoughts of what went by
Live again till the next dream train

Kansas City, Missouri, USA, June 2010

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