Boxcar Blues | Teen Ink

Boxcar Blues

September 18, 2018
By notTopher SILVER, Flower Mound, Texas
notTopher SILVER, Flower Mound, Texas
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."-Alan Watts

I remember my final day in Ballarat

I moved there to pursue a career

And in hindsight, 

my ego grew so fat

I was a musician back in Carlisle

And for each song I moved a mile

Which led me to the desert

And an oasis known as Ballarat

A rich haven for small businesses

And so-called “entrepreneurs”

At least that’s what they tell you

When reality hits, you’ll be left blue

So I joined the corporation

It was my own damnation

I admit, I grew rich in money

But I was never happy

I know that now, but not then

On the day I left hell

And made my way to sweet Roselle

It was a dusty Tuesday

Marked by raging storms

The sand in the wind

Marred my vision

So I was left blind

In more ways than one

So that is why

When the train stopped on the track

I left Ballarat

Without a glance back

And it wilted like a flower in the sun.

I took my luggage to my room

Locked the door to keep it safe

And made my way to the dining car

Ordered chopped ham tartare

But as I ate I had a chance to look

See what the train took

The floors consisted of driftwood

Covered in shiny lacquer

The walls of rusted reclaimed metal

The seats were matted down felt

This made me uneasy

And a little queasy

The gold paint on the window bars

Was chipping away

I didn’t want to stay

But before I stood a woman sat

Coupled with a crying baby

Said she was going to see

Her brother by the sea

But we weren’t going to the sea

We were headed for the mountains

I didn’t bother to correct her

It’s not my job to correct people

I’m just an entertainer

But when she asked me

Where I’m going to be

I hardly knew what to say

In complete honesty

I don’t know why I left

I thought a bit and said what I felt

“I’m looking for love

It’s about time I find someone

Cash in on what I deserve”

And she gave me an incredulous look

As if I were some sort of crook

And she proclaimed

“Why? What have you ever done for love?”

Needless to say I was embarrassed

I made my way to the bar

Luckily it wasn’t very far

But they only served moonshine

And I didn’t have the time

So I left behind the rutty bar

I left behind the skiffle band

And looked out my room window

At the passing land

We passed a sundown town

And a couple farms

And as desert slowly gave way

To soft grassland

So began to fade

The summer day.

I awoke the next morning and the train had stopped

This was unexpected, unwelcome

I demanded answers

I demanded compensation

But as I looked, I learned

No one was on the train

I got off and had my first real sight

Of the machine I slept in last night

It was a locomotive, old and junky

The wheels were rusted and clunky

The blemishes in the wood

Were covered by patriotic bunting

It was a ghastly sight

But when I turned around

I was amazed by sight and sound.

The birds were singing

Church bells ringing

Life still prospered in old Carlisle

I was back in my childhood home

All thanks to a fault in the track

What a pleasant setback!

I stood outside town in a meadow

I made my way down to the river

Where I used to pick plums

Thought of the bars I used to play in

Wondered if they were still open

As I stood in the river

Watching the fish spin

Mushrooms grew around here, too

They used to be so colorful

But now they’re just brown

This place was my inspiration

This place was my muse

Back when I sang the blues

It all came back to me on that bank

And I became ashamed I ever left

To pursue corporate rank

As it hit me, this grand epiphany

I heard the train pulling away

I ran up the hill, forgetting my shoes

But the train was so fast

By the time I reached it

Only boxcars were in reach

I pulled myself inside

And took it in stride

The car was very strange indeed

Built of stainless steel

Filled with mahogany crates

And the strangest people

I have ever seen

They were train hoppers

Their clothes weren’t torn

Their hair wasn’t ratty

They were nothing if not genuine

They were playing music

One woman on the sitar

Her music seemed to bend reality

Another on bass

He was howling like a wolf

You could see it in his face

He didn’t just sing the blues

He felt them in his soul

And the group as a whole

Seemed much better off

Than anyone within the main

Of this psychedelic train

They were drinking fine wine

Spiced rum, fortified sherry

And a sight I must have been!

I realized I was a mess

I didn’t care, I guess

They gave me varying looks

I asked “who are you?”

And the woman on sitar stopped

She peered into my very soul

“We are the children of the sun”

She said with conviction

“But more importantly

Who are you?”

“We know him!”

Another chimed in,

“He’s the voodoo child!”

I didn’t know what to make of this

The woman with the sitar continued

“We may know who he is,

But his soul is lost

And he has forgotten himself”

She began playing again

She was a master in her own right

I felt like I didn’t belong

I felt dirty and wrong

So I offered up one final gift

“I come with love to spare”

And they looked at me

With a love in their eyes

I hadn’t recognized in the longest time

And without reason or rhyme

They felt familiar to me

And the howling wolf welcomed me

“You used to sing so loud,”

He declared

“But now you don’t seem so proud.

You have a lonely smile

As if you haven’t loved in a while”

He beckoned me forward

Invited me to play

I could find no words to say

I explained everything I owned

Was in the front of the train

“There’s that familiar moan

Excuses, excuses

Someday you’re gonna have to cry

Be it through tears or guitar

Singing blues or playing sitar

Someday we all have to cry”

He was right, I couldn’t deny

So I picked up a box

Turned it on its side

It had been so long since I’d tried

But I played like never before

I started with a simple beat

And made it harder, faster, better

The bass joined in, and so sitar

And as I opened my mouth

I heard a voice I didn’t recognize

It was more than my own

And had I known

That I had it in me

I would have boarded this train

A long time ago

And so we sang our own tune

Through the mountainside

We came from hell

And ended up 

At the sweet hot springs of Roselle

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