Michael Madden is a genius whose music never fails to inspire me
for Michael Madden
The sound of the train owns the night.
It finds itself in all the distances and landscapes.
We need never move and it swirls by, mars light orbiting,
Wiping the night as if it had an intelligence. It does not.
It is not there. It is gone before we hear the sound.
We may see it in the distance crossing a trestle or
Running into a central valley full to overflowing with
Red cars and tank cars and flatcars and cattle cars.
We are not invited to see its passing, waiting
In an automobile at the edge of the track at night, the clack-clacking
Trucks counting something, gone now. A single red eye
At the end of the snake’s body winking out in the huge night.
This beast is the neuron, the impulse moving on its own
Highways through our county, known by all, coated with its
Own history and lore, its legends and heros and more steam,
Diesel smoke and soundtracks for dreams than that body
Can absorb. It is our magic glowing room throwing itself
Through the great American night as cities and towns flash
By, always on its way to somewhere, crying the land in steel voices
I didn’t mean to speak
That softly and get lost
in your voice, but here I am
Unhinged and dangling,
Changed from strong
To weak just by the sound
Of your voice calling to me.
The wind begins to describe
The movements of three girls
Who believe themselves to be
Messengers of a group
Dreaming the sounds of all
Beings breathing together.
As if a dance of this
Kind were possible without
What is possible is to hear this voice,
In patterns of rain across
The concrete, against car
Windows, racing down the superhighways,
Leaning upon the surface of the water.
Nothing will come of this detailed
Report. It will be simply weather,
A late arrival at a glittering doorway,
The arc of headlights
Around a street corner,
Necklaces of lights, the night only.
Should we see these girls
Without this kind of late brilliance
About them, they will seem
On their way to school,
Talking together, puffs of
Laughter mixing just above
The hiss of tires, disappearing
Toward the park, becoming
A part of the evening.