Locomotive, Boston Railway Station, Massachusetts (from Amerika 1926)


This week I’ll be publishing daily poems written in response to photographs from E.O. Hoppe’s Amerika: Modernist Photographs from the 1920s (2007, ed. Phillip Prodger). Some of these I may compile into a manuscript (tentatively: Amerika 1926). This is poem #4.

EO Hoppe Amerika Locomotive Boston

Locomotive, Boston Railway Station, Massachusetts, 1926 by E.O. Hoppe

Locomotive, Boston Railway Station, Massachusetts

The signal bridge is empty, one set of tracks in the snow.
The locomotive knows where it’s been, why some fields are silent.

The dead are buried along the way, progress moving on rails of bone.
Tired eyes see a day’s work behind, a year’s work ahead.

You can tell when a man’s given up by how he swings a hammer.
It’s not the iron that hits the earth but the spirit.

All of this the engine carries departing the cold winds of Boston.

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