Tracks ~ #016 January 2014 – Haiga/Free Verse Haibun/#FWF Free Write Friday: Word Bank

©14 Beyond the Window 2 sml 6x



11: 11 AM


Train Tracks


train. trains are easy. they connect me to my father. he worked on the railroads as an electrician for years. after the navy. and died from asbestos related to those times. maybe trains are not so easy.

what i remember is that from the time i can remember he traveled by train. because the (Great) Northern Pacific gave him and his direct family free passage. i did not grow up with my father. my parents divorced before i was born. i grew up as an only child with a single parent long before that was common. the only one of such a family in the entire school(s) system before i was born though high school each summer and once or twice in winter from one parent to the other. that is a different story.

what i remember: is traveling by train with him. to go 2,000 miles in one direction. to spend a week. to 6 weeks. each summer. where he lived. and then 2,000 miles back to where i lived. because my mother wanted me to know him.

traveling by train was wild and free. i liked that traveling. whether i was sitting in my window place watching the country fly by. imagining scenarios that allowed me to fly outside of the train near and far along side of the train window. above trees. between trees. in thick forest and sloping plains. zigzagging and darting. antelope bounding and i floated with them into rocky gorge country along and following streams and waterfalls and along distant ridges and above cattle herds. a deer. turtles in the ponds on logs and between cattails. with and among birds i flew. at the pace of the train. the clackety click.  the rhythm and rhyme of the tracks and train. along streets and backyard fences. allies and freeways. a wave to car people from the window as i floated along beside them and above them, below them, behind them, in front of them. slow and fast. watching them stop or fall far behind as i flew on. in a long curve counting the train cars because i could see both the engine and the caboose at the same time. floating into the dip and peak and rhythm of telephone lines in a cadence up and down between poles as the train moved. smooth wave arcs. fences that had irregular cadences that follow the train tracks over hills and grasslands and mountain sides and peaks and ponds and streams and waterfalls again. along a lake. it was thrilling to fly like that. over bridges and suddenly plunged into the dark light of a tunnel. or the rush of a train coming in the opposite direction past my window. and i flew to the other side of that train. i could see through the windows of that train and soar. around. above. or low. always at full train speed. fun. yes. or. sometimes i stood at the open window between cars. or. 

i became extremely familiar with how trains operate. where dinning cars were located. or club cars. sleepers (which i never had because that wasn’t part of the free). where the linen was kept. once in a while a train with dome seating. wow. up there. the views. lightning in the distant clouds. canyons and sky and stone peaks. and i roamed these cars and these views. day and night. 3 days and 2 nights on the slow train. which eventually became 2 days and 1 night on the faster trains. 2,000 miles from my living home to his visiting home. Washington Start to Minnesota. Clarkston to St. Paul. on those trains. playing cards. ask any conductor and i received a free deck. sometimes a double deck. Northern Pacific (later Burlington Northern) in white on a green background the back of these decks. solitaire or some other game with a stranger. another child. an adult. who ever i could coax into playing. all night if i could stay awake that long i roamed. i did not want train trip travel like that to end. i did not want to reach a destination. i wanted to go on each train endlessly. even the stops. endlessly.

i understood the stops. how long and how far i could go into a building or down a road before i had to turn back. be back. explaining to others we could get off and be back in time, stepping onto the pull up ladder steps just before the conductor signaled the last all aboard and go. let’s go see. . . . 

exploring the late sunlight shadows i learned hand shadowing, a great bird in flight, a rabbit. a turkey. 

at times for a section. from my small town in Washington state to a larger town, to catch the long distance train, it was a one day ride. i often rode alone. on a one car train. the train seats were two sided. the seat back could flip either way. it flipped toward the back of the train so the seats faced forward. when the train arrived. the conductor went through the car flipping each seat back to the other direction. and the train pulled out without turning around. the engineer just walked to the other end of the car. and drove from that end back. one day. one long round trip. never turning around. i rode that car alone at times. and i remember standing beside the driver. facing the long tracks ahead watching. i liked watching from the other end of the car too. the tracks left behind. sometimes alone there. once with another boy my age, 9, 10, 11 and we sang songs for hours. the driver saying it was okay we were there. he enjoyed our singing. 

trains? a thousand stories on trains. maybe 10,000. endless. each summer. to and from. each ride so unique. and full of this wow. that i could not explain to others. Dad asked what i watched out the window once. i must have sat that way, quietly for hours. he said i’d been sitting watching for over an hour and a half that time.  maybe closer to 2. i tried to explain. he listened. nodded. and we never spoke about it again. even now. unexplainable. even this. all because my father could ride the trains for free. and his son could too. thank you Dad. i remember you. 22 years ago you died. but today is not your death day. today January 31. that is your birthday. happy birthday father. i think of you. thank you. 

11:33 AM January 31, 2014

22 minutes. 


train tracks

memories from my father

beyond the window


Altered Digital Photograph

  • 8 x 12 Inches @ 300 ppi
  • Digital Drawing and Painting
  • Nikon D80 Digital Camera
  • Perfect Effects 4
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 12

This is my mostly unedited #FWF Free Write Friday: Word Bank; Train—free verse for Kellie Elmore’s (.com) blog challenge. In the work (above) I’ve slightly altered the free write verse because it is hard for me not to reread what I have written instantly. When I do that I start clarifying a few things, mostly I did not change things such as typos, run on sentences, odd grouping paragraphs and so on, these are just the way it came out. Splat. Mostly, it is unedited. Nothing has been deleted. A few things were added when I realized all I thought I’d set down wasn’t there. There is by far a lot more I could add. 

This may or may not be acceptable as haibun or haibun thinking. It is quite raw. The title was added after the writing (because I like to title my haibun). The haiku was thought about over a few hours as well. It slopped into place as I walked in a lightly misting rain this afternoon.

January 31, 2014 #FWF Free Write Friday: Word Bank by KELLIE ELMORE


train – burlap – fiction – pearls – vertigo

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