Crossing Over to the Other Side

The last thing I remember of you is your mischievous grin.

I remember you beckoning to me laughingly, trying to get me to cross over to the other side.

You were always laughing! Ironically...

Bellowing as loudly as you could trying to prevail over the clangorous, ominous shrieking and the industrial groaning, saying:

"Come on, you've never known life until you've crossed the railroad with the train coming your way!"

And I did!

Full of fear and exhilaration coveting the ascertaining frenzied heartbeat that would remind me I'm alive. 

We ran back and forth as the trains came and went.

Calculating the distance and arranging our grand finale... Planning our tombstones from early on, making sure it would go down right:

"Restless Girl. Hit by a train. Dearly missed daughter, practitioner of regrettably unreciprocated love, shame and guilt on everyone!"

"Broken Lonely Boy. Died of neglect. Beloved son with hoarsed, from the screaming, voice. Words fallen in emptiness thanks to deaf ears and eyes tightly shut."

"Youth crushed by Indifference. " 

Good enough.

With our torn clothes and our tattered shoes that we so proudly paraded around... Those holes in our sweaters stood for the void inside.

"This is my soul! Disgusting isn't it?"

"No! No! You are beautiful! Please stop! We love you!"

Words never uttered.

Yet you kept trying and trying till the bitter end.

We pretended to be aloof, nonchalant... As if we didn't feel the cold;  dismissive of such trivial unromantic things as coats! 

We wore only scarves... Little Princes and Princesses.

What is it about scarves? They cover your neck but leave your shoulders shivering... 

A protest against the sole show of affection, the automatic, generic: "Get a coat, it's freezing outside, you'll catch a cold or something." Pretense, patronizing... Well no coats!

Punishing them... 

Hurt me, hurt you...

We were so full of everything back then!

Full of lust, full of boldness, full of anger, full of enthusiasm, full of ideas, full of opinions, full of delusions... 

Full of obsessions, infatuations and fixations of all sorts.

Full of it!

Full of ourselves!

Full of pain.

We heard the warning bells tolling! Yet we tried our feet. We crossed over countless times!

We closed our eyes and breathed in the exhaust fumes and the damp, reeking of port-water, clover scented oxygen and wished to have our life evaluated at once! 

We looked the train in the eye and called for doom. The whistle blew and we whistled back coyly.

We flirted and French kissed with Death!

We floated around, hovering above the tracks ecstatic. Inebriated with cheap stale wine and various substances...

We tampered with reality. 

We toyed with our lives and with the hearts of the ones who...

...loved us?

Loved us not!

Loved us?

Loved us not!

...Love us???

We saw the trains advancing steadily with stature and precision and we rejoiced!

More reckless than ever, we would stomp our feet and scrape the soil!

Kicking the ground backwards, pawing like enraged bulls, demanding that the train comes right this instant because we say so!

We couldn't wait! We couldn't be stopped!

We would stand still and we wouldn't move an inch until our childhood lovers, the only ones who seemed to care, to whom we felt we mattered, pulled us out, pale faced...

Fear catches up with you only when the thing you love starts to rattle and quake.

We loved each other. But not ourselves. 

Love you...Love me...

This way we were safe. We would rescue one another from trains and buses and tall buildings. 

As long as we were there to pull each other out we were safe. 

After the grave encounter we would crawl in each other's lap in tears.

Smothering, suffocating each other with the stifling tenderness that we craved for so badly.

We fell like soldiers. Afterwards we would moan, consumed with love ache, spent and incomplete. 

Passion and mad desire, wild, savage, delicate, love. Innocent in its essence. 

Chasing after one another from one side of the railroad to the other.

Jumping turnstiles and playing limbo, bending over backwards under the red and white striped candylike barriers.

We skipped and back-walked and made all kinds of shenanigans laughing at the face of danger!

Laughing at the size and clumsiness of the hefty, balky vexed steel monster! 

Laghing.... Always laughing!

At the steel monster that huffed and puffed and spat threats to blow our house down!

We sniffed and whiffed, we laughed and bluffed in return! 

"Our homes are already broken, old man!"

We stared blindly at what we imagined was the driver's car, seeking to see a kin face...

We pictured our fathers' faces inside that little cabin. Wearing the "cap's cap"!  Furious and hopefully terrified...

We pretended to hear our mother's voice coming from those invisible lips, scolding us and hopefully pleading with tears...

We stared provokingly! And we laughed and laughed! Torturing them...

Hurt me...Hurt you...

And we waved and bowed, theatrically as we summoned peril, as we asked to be crushed, planning the triumphant day after! 

Never really believing that we could ever be crushed... 

"I can stop anytime I want!"

And the train was always kept at arm's length.

But it was there. Right there at arm's length...

Gullible, stupid us, we relied on unconditional love coming to our rescue.

But this love was on sabbatical. 

Or otherwise engaged.

And not to mention tired. 

Hiding behind the morning paper...

Losing themselves into the long hours...

The only hint of humanity in them, the only thing beating with flickering life; that sultry, secret anticipation of the television's nightly fix. That mind numbing high...

"Unconditional Love"...  tapping their vein while still in the car on their way home from work... 

A hasty "how was your day",  then the customary taciturn succinct display of dismay, dissatisfaction and disapproval.

(The 3 D's of our childhood.

Then at long last they were free to plunge into perdition.

Slip their feet into the slippers of oblivion and wearily letting their shell empty out and slip into that stunned stupor; courtesy of "Stupid Commercial and News Fiction Enterprises"!

And oh! The wrath! The passion! The compassion! Such heartfelt concern...for the misery, the poverty, the wars...

Forgetting to spare a glance at our graying, tear felt faces.

So what if we reeked of alcohol and cigarettes? So what if our cheeks were smudged and our eyes melancholy?

We grew up learning to bang our heads against walls, spit, bite, scratch our skins, pull our hair in utter madness and cry our lungs out... All for a scrap of attention...

There was no other way... 

We would stuff our guts with junk food and suck the nicotine greedily... It was bitter but maybe we deserved it... Blowing clouds of pungent smoke up to the argent sky.

The trains and us...

Then when our love for each other would become too much, too overwhelming, we would give in and let be dragged and drowned in dangerous languorous caresses. The hostile aggressive touch that we weren't ready for yet. 

Gulping down blurry spirits trying to wash the fear down until in sure time we became close friends with those muddy waters.

Then we clutched that glass pacifier and gulped with gluttony in the hopes that we'd fill that blanc.

Or that a mom-faced genie would come out of the bottle and grant our one and only wish. 

When nothing came, we clung on to the next best thing. Whatever and whomever was there to hold us.

Brooding over that pleather wallet, feeling the fragrant tobacco appreciating it the way an old navy man would...

Going through the motions solemnly and ceremoniously as if we were baptizing a child.

Treating the slim, fragile rolling paper with unparalleled affection, unlike the way we handled our bodies...

The latter we gambled without a second thought.

We would jump at every thrilling uncertainty with eyes wide with curiosity.


Always laughing!

So naive. So childish. Playing grownups. 

Always playing.

And trains kept coming. That was the only promise that we could count on. Trains always delivered. 

And if you missed one you could always go back another time. You could always wait for the next one if you weren't ready... 

Trains were always coming...

In our darkest times we would go there after hours. 

We would stagger across the tracks, that were built 150 years ago for entirely different purposes; crying and ranting spreading uncontrollably drops of spit and tears into the fickle breeze.

Drunk, damaged, decaying...

(The 3 D's of our adolescence )

It would be hours before the next train was to come, but it was already too late for us.

We had already crossed over to the other side. 

"I can go back anytime I want!"

Little did we know...

Now the old tracks are warped and covered in moss and weeds. An emerald dream of dew and grass. A majestic fantasy of some idyllic past... 

Centuries and centuries ago...  

The beauty of the effort to console the cold loneliness of the tarnished obsolete forgotten road.

The iron path.

Swallowed by the dirt, submerged into the earthly grave, half buried, half showing: belonging somewhere between the living and the dead. Meant to be shared...

The last precious sunbeams of the day shining over the old Russian Roulette of our youth...


Sapphire nature, silver metal, ember light.

Entitled: "Still Death"

No more trains coming.

No bells ringing.

No warning.

Nothing could possibly prepare us for what was coming to us...

No matter how sonorous, loud, vociferous the warning bells were...

No arrivals...

Only departures.

No more laughs...

No phone to transmit our cries for help...

You can sit cross legged on the tracks, lie down, tie your self onto the rails, stand there for hours, days, nights...

Nothing will come to estimate our lives' value anymore. 

Nothing to give us worth.

The trick has gotten old, the mysterious  figure with the heraldic cap and the blurred face has long since retired.

And you'll never know life because you crossed too many railroads with the train coming your way. 

You went up in smoke along with the lead and granite smog that poured out of the chimney of that last train.

As for me, all I'm left with, is the memory of your mischievous grin.

I don't wait around for trains so much anymore. I just don't feel like dying lately...

(I wonder, would that be ok with you?

Would you still be my friend?)


◄ Listen well into the Night

Wake me up at Dream O'Clock ►


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Mae Foreman

Mon 4th Mar 2019 08:09

Dear Jason you didn't miss anything, I just edited the piece a thousand times!!! I have been adding bits and pieces and generally I have been altering it all day! Now I think I'm done though! ?
I'll take the hug! I'm glad you still like it after all those changes I made!
Thanks you for everything ?

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Jason Bayliss

Mon 4th Mar 2019 07:42

Just re-read this Mae and I'm glad I did, (to be honest I have a couple of times). Every time I read it I'm struck by something new, some new element I'd missed before. It paints such a starkly beautiful story of a part of your life, how you felt about it then and now.
To be honest, I wish I could write like this.
While most poems are like a snapshot of a moment, an emotion, this is like a short film. Love it.
Still feel like you need a hug by the end of it. ?

J. x

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:53

Thank you Jon? friend for taking the time and for all the support!

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Jon Stainsby

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:44

Stunning. I love this.

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:41

Nope! Found it! Tragic and wonderful Kate. ?
I'm shaken up. I hope my old friend stays safe. Mostly from himself...

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:31

That is terrible. I'd sure like to read that piece Kate. I can 't find it among your entries though... Thankfully the tragedy in my story is metaphorical. I cannot imagine the horror of an actual train wreck. ? Like Elizabeth Bishop said : The art of losing isn't hard to master. It's really no disaster. Maybe I shouldn't speak at all but parting with old friends can be painful. Especially when you watch someone you love squandering their lives, watch them waste away, and it's not even their fault. That is all.

<Deleted User> (19913)

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:19

So true. Without self promoting, I wrote a poem called Hope about a young woman close to our family who put her head on the tracks and waited for a train to come. It was such a terrible loss of a young life, and impacted many - including the driver no doubt.

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:12

Thank you Kate! I salute your courage, persistence and patience!?
I find that trains are heavy with symbolism. The arrivals, the departures, the road, the iron,the smog, the journey, where they go and what they carry... Everything. Plus I did cross some old moss covered tracks the other day and left someone behind as I returned. They refused to either take me with them or follow me back to the other side.
Thanks for reading ?

<Deleted User> (19913)

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 20:07

This was intriguing and colourful Mae, you're quite a story teller. I grew up around trains - their presence has brought wealth and prosperity, as well as despair at times.

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 18:57

I apologize for the length friends but sometimes you have to get it out the way it comes. I'll be more concise in the future! ?

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 08:30

Thank you Jason! I'm glad you liked it?

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Jason Bayliss

Sun 3rd Mar 2019 00:53

Mae, as ever, brilliant, and as, "Heart," said so full of depth and really worth the journey. Loved it

J. x

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Mae Foreman

Sat 2nd Mar 2019 22:26

Thanks for your input Don! ?
I know, it's long. It wasn't exactly planned. It just came out. I do plan to make adjustments though...
Out of curiosity which parts do you think are obsolete?
Thank you

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Don Matthews

Sat 2nd Mar 2019 21:36

Very good Mae, but it dragged on a bit long for me. But this is not a criticism.

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Mae Foreman

Sat 2nd Mar 2019 19:57

Thank you Heart of Lead! I'm glad I reached you!? I had to get it out, it's one of those things, you know...
Thank you so much?

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Heart of Lead

Sat 2nd Mar 2019 19:45

I'm near speechless ad the depth of this. Thank you for sharing. I feel as if I was taken on a journey, eager to see where it leads but uncertain, almost fearful. This is precious, a beautiful mosaic of colour, of light, of meaning. Love and train tracks and promises of all...

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