paperback rider 7: practical railways

mind stations

Millie, the librarian, has been listening to an employee’s story about waiting to catch a train to Sheridarp, and has given him a book on the unknowable. It’s late on a Saturday night, early on the day following, and the characters have inexplicably diverged from their raisons d’être, or would have if they existed. Part 1 is here.

I riffled through “The Unknowable,”
pausing here and there to admire Rorschach
snack and coffee stains.

After several repetitions, I observed that
every page was blank, apart from butterflies
and their suggestions.

Millie explained.

In the lofty realm of publishing,
timeliness is key.
“The Unknowable” is as yet unwritten,
but the first edition’s out in print
and the second’s coming out next week.

The over-rated rational, I thought,
and Millie shared an inconvenient fiction.

Once I melted in a dream.
Not like iron in a furnace,
more like candy on a summer pavement.
Bees swarmed all around me
and carried off my essence for their queen.

Was the dream her own or someone else’s?
I didn’t know, but a reply was
unavoidable, and I chose trains.

locomotive continuation

Countable trains passed by,
until an engine with a single flatcar
pulled into the station.

On the flatcar, another station stood,
and with an air of carefree nonchalance,
I leapt aboard: my journey had finally begun.

Time streamed past, both near and far,
and the station stopped
at motionless carriages
of every shape and size,
some with pot plants in the windows.
But I had no ticket, and did not disembark.

Might these stationary carriages…
be simple buildings?

to continue

Mind stations (part above) from VEE, the visual evolution engine, and TIM, the illustrated mind. The image is evolved from 12 minutes of my EEG, and the detail above shows the transition from sitting quietly (left) to writing bad poetry (right).

45 thoughts on “paperback rider 7: practical railways

  1. Great imagery as ever – the timeliness of publishing – is a great conceit – and there’s a Einstein-ian flavour to your response – trains – flatcars – stations – observers – pot plants. But at least your journey has begun. Above all (literally) the intriguing derived image of your EEG. It almost requires a government warning doesn’t it? “Writing bad poetry is demonstrably bad for your health”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Peter. Yes, time and fashion, and although you can’t choose them, everything is relative. The EEG is something I’m putting work into, and it may have a practical application in diagnosis in almost the same form. Perhaps some of our politicians would like to be less selective, and warn that any form of thinking is unhealthy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I agree Sobhana, although I think they both have their place. It’s pretty tragic when the only time you get to meditate is when you’re doing EEG experiments on yourself, especially since we humans are around for a lot longer than your butterfly friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. and on the flatbed, another station stood, I agree with the others Steve, your imagery is unlike any other.
    Not having a ticket for the train your on hummm speaks of dreams does it not? 🙂 I am sitting on the third flatbed watching it all from a distance.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. i like this Steve, you know I appreciate your writing but this one is trumps the others for me. a book can mean something so different to the ones who pick it up. the pages are really unwritten until we read them. I love old and second hand books for this reason, the smells and thumbprints become part of the story to me too. and i feel the travel bit we talked about before, we are really just passive on this journey but feel the moments pass through us. what we catch is what is meant to be our story. there’s a delicate thread of an unknown prediction in this one. well done Steve.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Gina. I agree, it’s the reader who determines what is read. Old books are special to me too: when I was young I worked weekends in a warehouse filled with paperbacks, because my father was manager of a publishing company. It wasn’t very well organised, in neglected corners there were stacks of forgotten books–it was all fascinating.

      I’m not quite sure what’s meant to be the story here, but hopefully something will happen. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am surprised how my words can be interpreted too, then think hmm…maybe I meant to say that all along. bizarre!

        I have a future plan to run a second hand book shop, maybe I’ll interview you when the time comes…LOL! oh super cool , that you were introduced to books so early by dad! my father bought us encyclopedias , one of the best gifts he gave us. books in nooks is a very exciting to me, I like discovering a hidden treasure like that.

        well I am enjoying the journey of this story, it’s not the destination as they say but the path it takes us on.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great plan, Gina, and thanks again. 🙂Interesting. Because of the way the trade worked, my father brought home serialized art and science mags that he got for free. When I look back, I realize how important it was for me.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Boy, that EEG graphic is mesmerizing. It has a Mediterranean flavor. That bit about the book being published before it’s written makes me think of predestination. Is everything already programmed? And the melting candy dream… Time streaming past reminds me of the Doppler Effect – think that’s what it’s called. And that ending stopped me in my tracks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear that came across: I also thought the image might have had a kind of Mediterranean landscape flavor.

      My unprofessional opinion about predestination is “not really.” I think that time’s arrow (past to future) comes from all the unpredictable external influences on everything around us. That’s the only way we can see things, so best to go with that.

      Yes, the Doppler effect changing frequency when things are moving towards or away from us, even the stars in the expanding universe. Haha, thanks, BG.


    • Thanks Clarissa, I’m sure Millie will be pleased. 🙂 I haven’t read Zafon, looks interesting, and I very much enjoyed your wonderings about words (or should I say the wondering of the earlier you).

      Who knows? Books are so important in fantasy fiction, they often have a life of their own. I guess it’s different in the age of massive digital storage. At my university they disposed of a lot of hardcover (technical) books years ago. It was a shame, and I wonder how many have been lost for good.


  5. I was trained as a librarian and remember Dewey’s classification system really well, no internet in those days…I did my work experience in a library where all the Western books had a leftist leaning and, yes, we adored classics…including Vanity Fair and Jerome K Jerome in ‘Eastern Block’ (I use this term pejoratively) I spent days pacing staircases and floors finding shelves, looking for numbers representing genres, sciences and so on… sat behind the counters where lonely men savoured bits of conversations that meant nothing to the librarians…the images of a librarian selling the beauty of blank pages to one of her regulars and ‘carried off my essence to their queen’ are absolutely great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed. I spent a lot of time in libraries before the internet flew, lonely maths and science, looking for magical answers to arcane problems. When I was studying, one of my best friends spent his weekends in the physics library. The smartest person I knew, and he told me he read the conference discussions between famous physicists of the past. Later he took his own life, so perhaps those discussions didn’t help.


  6. Hi Steve, I would love to hear the suggestions of butterflies…I had a couple of them magically appear in my bedroom even though the window was closed but alas they made no suggestions. The delicacy of your artwork reminds me of Toile wallpaper. Great imagery throughout your poem, particularly enjoyed the dream-like train.

    Liked by 1 person

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