PoetryIssue 02 | December 2008

Three Poems by Tim Hawkins


I tried for years to write of trains,
to catch the rhythm of their churning wheels
in the uneven flow of words,

to put one word past another
like endless tracks stealing across
three vast and stubborn continents,

to remember your hand in mine
across the eternal moonscape
distance of the western states, and watch
your true face appear by morning light,

to yearn to be with you, apart
from the wayward Midwestern looks,
in some private rolling space
where longing is no destination.

I tried for years to find the words
to comfort the sobbing German girl
whose stolen bag is politely returned
while the polite train waits, and the
culprit is shot on the bloodstained tracks
in the remoter wastes of Xinjiang.

I tried for years to stop the wailing
of beggars as we slow to take on fuel,
then speed up again through a nightmare
haze of midnight villages,

to bring to life the dying child
thrust half-through an open window
by her screaming mother stumbling along
the uneven tracks of Varanasi.

For many years now, a good long while,
I have ridden the lines of commuter rail,
where I read the front page twice a day
and the headlines of Sports and Metro.

But the trains roll by, all night long
to the infinite freight yards of Chicago,
and shake my house to the basement walls
as I toss and turn in my sleep.

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About the author

Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, where he has worked as a journalist, technical writer, communications manager and teacher in international schools. His career has also taken some interesting detours into such posts as fish cannery slime table worker, stevedore, nose-hair clipper model and cram school teacher. After spending much of the ‘90’s and ‘00’s abroad, he currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, most recently in Blueline, Eclectica, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, Shit Creek Review and The Smoking Poet. He was nominated by the journal Four and Twenty for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. His first collection, Wanderings at Deadline, was published by Aldrich Press in 2012. It is available at Amazon.com and through the publisher’s website. Find out more about Tim and his writing at timhawkinspoetry.com.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok