Runaway Train Nov 2020 by Gwynn Scheltema

 A runaway train hurtles south
 to the end of the world
 Once it wound slowly 
 through great plains and mountains
 fuelled by adventure and promise—
 now its churning wheels run hot
 faster and faster 
 passed the hungry and the homeless
 the sick and the dying
 the forgotten and the cast out
 It barrels on unstoppable
 because it did not take the time
 to stop at those places
 where it might have gathered strength
 been fuelled and fine-tuned 
 to run without screeching
 without smoke and flying grit
 Those that ride first class
 pull the shades against any new light
 intruding upon their card games
 hold fast to their toppling piles of chips
 round every bend
 through black tunnels
 seeing nothing but reflections
 in mirror glass 
 Track weary the second-class coaches have fallen
 into disrepair, indistinguishable
 from third class
 couplings grow weaker
 with every tenuous mile
 soon the last link will break
 and the few coaches left will race on
 occupants oblivious
 content in plush seats
 behind velvet drapes 
 Broken carriages already pile upon the tracks
 and when there are no more
 clear lines
 the train will derail
 arc skyward in fire and smoke
 hissing and screeching
 twisted metal and flying glass
 and from the debris
 a small clear voice will call to rebuild—
 a different train—
 a small clear voice will say
 “Yes we can!” 


5 thoughts on “Runaway Train Nov 2020 by Gwynn Scheltema”

  1. Yes, powerful. Before I got to the ending I thought it might be a parable for the environment, though that will be far harder to “rebuild” than society. (Mind you, the two are inextricably linked, even if many refuse to recognize that.)


  2. Holy smokes, Gwynn, what a brilliant extended metaphor for our (US?) times. I’m laughing at the end of the story. Great fun. Well done, you.
    A small note: passed should be past.


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