Trains and Free Verse

Two weeks ago, I rode a train for the first time. Well, Amtrak. The little steam train I rode years ago doesn’t count as a ‘real’ train. It was a nine hour, overnight trip to Pittsburgh. I’ll have more to say about the trip and train in my monthly highlights post, but I did want to share one thing with you all.

I finally expermented with free verse poetry! I’ve tried my hand at free verse once or twice before, but I’ve never studied poetry and have read hardly any. Still, while looking out the window at 3:30 a.m. from the observation car, I decided to give it a go. Here is the result.

Empty Roads

We stop, we start, we stop again

A sleeping city glides by

Orange light over deserted roads

It’s 3:30 – the darkest hours before dawn.


Now we rise, traveling high over roads

Passing empty parking lots and still towers

Not a car, nor a soul, nor a breath of life

There are so many empty streets.


The train sways like a great cradle

Sometimes with creaking groans

Sometimes smoothly, soundlessly.


The moon above us

Pavements below us

Lights and slumbering lives

Who lives down there, cloaked in shadows?

What bits of life are almost visible?


Empty streets, empty passages, empty lights

Empty, empty, empty


Awaiting a new day.


On the way home, I wrote another piece, this one about boarding the train that night.




Backpack digging into my shoulder.

A wide tunnel, gaping like the throat of a great beast.

A train on each side,




We hurry on, down to the end.

Golden lights, like unblinking eyes.

Lifting gloom

Deepening shadows.

Pillow in one hand, my ticket too.

My suitcase rattles on wobbly wheels.

“Down to the end.

Coach to the end.”

“South Bender, eh?

Seat 57, this door.”

Crisp uniforms, white pressed and gold braid.

Polished hats over watchful eyes.

Up a twisting stair, luggage clattering against the walls.

Settling down,

My face to the glass.

This side of the platform is empty.


Concrete and golden glows.

A bump.

A gentle sway.

Pillars glide by.

The lights.

The platform.

Our speed quickens.

We are out, rushing into the shadows.

One station at a time, across the night.


Do you enjoy poety? Have you ever written free verse?

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  1. Just gotta say Hope, I’m a big fan of these poems. Maybe one day you’ll be writing some poems about taking a flight to CA 😉 Keep up the awesome work!

    • Sooner rather than later, actually. 😉 I’ll probably be heading out there when my brother graduates from boot camp this September. How far are you from San Diego?

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