The Call

By Michael Chitwood

Featured Art: Destruction of Hood’s Ordinance Train by George N. Barnard

There was the rumor
of a deep night/early morning
secret train that a crew
had to be called in for
and they got double time
for their trouble. Big money.
They cleared the tracks for it,
put everything on the side rails,
even the coal cars that were priority.
And when it left the yard
it was only three cars
with a puller and a pusher
so it was jimmy-john scooting
before it was out of sight.
Everyone had a theory.
Some millionaire had a coupe
shipped to Norfolk from Europe
and wanted it in New York by the weekend.
Or the government needed a rocket
pronto to Fort Meade. Or gold—
gold was always a good bet.
No one ever knew for sure
or knew anyone who had been on the crew,
but when the call came,
and it would come, it would,
why sure, sure, you’d go,
that kind of money and all.

Michael Chitwood’s eighth book of poems, Living Wages, will be published by Tupelo Press in 2014.

Piece originally published in NOR 13.

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