Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Training and Dancing to the Clack

The TFE Poetry Bus ticket this week is a poem about trains. Well...he didn't say we couldn't use a gerund...


Robin, ready for the game,

Struts among the puddles,

Sporting black masked face

And red chest protector.

Jonquil, in uniform of green,

Does pushups through the grass

And huddles on the field

With members of the team;

They raise their golden bats,

Swinging as they all

Heed March’s airy call.

Bluebells on the verge,

Cheering to be heard,

Dance before the sun --

Spring Training has begun.

Art by Tania Radda, Artist

"Spring Training" 2006

The following poem is something I posted last summer. If you've already read it, please don't feel obligated to comment. This is my train ticket for the TFE's Poetry Bus:


Take a bit of creosote,

soak a wooden tie,

press it on a gravel bed

and spike it in the ground.

Do this and do this

‘til all you can see

as far as you look

looks like piano keys,

moving to a pencil point

far down the line.

Now you are ready to

lay a penny down,

or even better yet,

to dance to the sound --

heel first, toe next,

heel now again --

arms spread out,

ready to fly

west to Kentucky

Indiana Illinois,

where you can see forever,

not just around the bend,

where the sun comes up

right out of the land,

where the sun goes down

in the field behind,

where you can hear the whistle

long before you see,

long before you think it’s time

to think of heading back,

long before you run along,

pacing with the clack,

arms pumping

knees rising

cheeks blowing

chuff chuffing,

long before you hook your arm

on that rusty rail,

long before you swing on up,

grinning from the feel

of the run and the journey

and the warm metal bar

crooked in your arm

as you watch from the car

the smooth, flat land that

rolls beneath the wheels.

Just a bit of creosote,

soaked into a tie

pressed on a gravel bed,

spiked into the ground,

just one penny flat,

or even better yet,

just one kid dreaming

of dancing to the clack.


  1. Never would have pegged you as a sports fan Karen{;-p}...but yes...We're going to the forties this week, we're going to the forties.

    In my excitement I lost my head...I lost my mind momentarily because your verse made me happy for the upcoming season.

  2. Best sort of game possible, this one...

  3. I'll never again look at the birds in spring the same way. Charming piece, Karen!!

  4. this reminds me of cat's "tapestry of spring" (has it really been almost a year? - i need to watch that again)- wonderfully whimsical - i love the lighthearted bravado of the "players", the strutting and pushups and "cheering to be heard" - it feels young and energized and excited.

    i'm also charmed with how it falls efforlessly into clever couplets - like they're on-deck, finding their rhythm with each swing, each line.

    i'm ready for a dog and a double-bagger. s'gonna be a great game!

  5. A game... brilliantly played in your words...

  6. TWM - Who could not love the Boys of Summer? But I think I got carried away -- it's snowing here again. It may be a loooong wait!

    jinksy - Ah, Spring!

    willow - Cocky little Robin! I think he got ahead of himself!

    joaquin - I thought of Tapesty of Spring, too! It is hard to believe it's been a year! At least I assume you're having spring-like weather. We're still in danger of March's fury, but a gal can wish...

    Dulce - Thank you!

  7. Those birds came in the snow. They're more hardy than me. We had a flock of robins chowing down holly berries last week.

    A warming verse. :)

  8. Lovely! Karen as only you could do. Can here the cry, "beer, soda, candy and hot butter popcorn!" as the worm is taken. Miss you

  9. What vibrant, whimsical verse, Karen! Baseball and bluebells--what more could we ask for from life??

    I loved the build in this poem. To me, baseball is as much about what comes between the plays as the hits and strikes. It's a slow game, and a slow pleasure, jounced by great moments of excitement. I felt the anticipation in the robin's "strut," and in those pushups and raised bats. And then the cheers--by the end, I wanted to shout, "play ball!"

    And I think Cat needs to put together an encore performance--this poem would be perfect for it! We could all shake off winter's doldrums and strut our stuff again. :)

  10. Ohh, this is lovely Karen.
    I can see winter disappearing here and the vibrant spring just craving to get going!

    Makes me feel like joining the daffodils during their pushup session. :)

  11. very clever, really made me smile...

  12. As a fan of both baseball & spring, this is a real delight!

  13. Two World Series in a row for my home team have gotten me back into baseball-fan mode. ^_^ I like this, a spring stirring people don't often write about.

  14. Jason - I saw one taking a bath in a snow puddle last week! I thought it was injured; after all, who in his right little mind would be having fun in icy water? Apparently, this little robin was doing just that!

    Rick - Thanks! I'm just trying to rush the season, I think. Where've you been?

    Sarah - Thanks for your careful reading of even such a simple little verse! Great idea, by the way...Oh, Cat!!!!

    Margaret - :-D Thanks! Spring makes me want to be a kid again. I want to go out and play!

    Juliet - I'm glad you liked it. Thanks.

    John - Thanks!

    Joseph - Go, Phillies!

  15. Love the whole metaphor and it's carried through so well - lovely writing and really enjoyed the rounding off of the six final rhyming lines.

  16. Sweet! This one makes me happy. I love the robin's red chest protector and the jonquils doing push ups. Lovely rhythm. Using baseball for a nature metaphor is awesome, as are you, Karen!

  17. A tradition that hopefully one day I can experience once. Thanks for perking my interest.

  18. Its been a wonderful, wonderful year. You really hit home with the last four lines. I'm sorry but I honestly don't remember if I have read this before on your blog. But even if I had, its totally worth a second read. And a third. And a...

  19. I loved both poems. The incessant rhythm of the "Clack" piece was a train running down the track of my mind. It was masterful. And I'm thrilled by the metaphor of "Spring Training"...Nature's spring visitors as baseball players. Wonderful.

  20. Spring Training was soo clever and light! And Dancing to the Clacks had such well-crafted images in it. Enjoyed both of these very much.

  21. Would love to see a baseball game.Strange that I khave a pair of baseball boots without any knowledge of the game.Great poems both.The Hurling season is just underway here and this first pome captures the spring magic and expectatin.The second has all the dancing music of all things train(y).Lovely images woven into the beat and the creosote and the gravel and the penny to be flattened onthe rail.Lovely!Let's all dance to the clack!

  22. Funny Joaquin saying it reminded him of Tapestry of Spring because you know, it reminded me of that too, and I was just watching it this very morning. Funny. I should repost that this week. Lovely Karen!

  23. The playfulness of the first one is just great. and the second one hooked me from the first few lines. It captures this whole feeling of space and distance and the smallness of a child in the middle of it all - really nice poem.

  24. Like Spring Training alot - a sunny happy poem... we're getting lovely weather here just now, and it captures that kind of mood - great time of year!

  25. "Spring Training" I love the way you combined the harbingers of spring with baseball's spring training. Oh, and Go Yankees! ;)

    "Dancing to the Clack" Oh, that image of railway tracks and a piano keyboard. Love it! That romantic association between trains and humans is evident here. Wonderful!

  26. Nice ones, Karen! I love the way the sun comes up right out of the ground in the openness of the Midwest, and the way the poem keeps right on going, swaying like the train.

  27. I was wondering if you'd post your earlier train poem. It's one of my favourites.

    Lovely take on spring training! I really like the robin best.

  28. I don't understand the game but the poem was great!

  29. Loved baseball as a youngster and enjoyed your poem.Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comments.

  30. Everyone - So sorry not to have left a personal response. Sometimes life gets in the way, and sometimes that's a good thing! Thanks to each of you for stopping by and commenting on my work. I hope you enjoyed!