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Ashland Train Day 2019

The chocolate’s all gone!
And graham crackers will never do;
What’s my poor sweet tooth
Ever gonna do?
Maybe go to Ashland,
Make this old bum budge,
See a nice lady named Taylor
And indulge in some famous fudge!
Come Halloween next,
Drive ‘cross a country grand,
Find myself in the center
Of good old Ashland.
So, let’s follow the train,
See where those old tracks lead,
Volunteer for a day,
And do some very good indeed!
The chocolate’s here all gone,
And dry graham crackers can’t do!
There’s only one option left:
Fair warning, here I come, COTU!

–Ashland Train Day is November 2, 2019!
10am – 5pm
The 16th running of Ashland Train Day takes place in the heart of Ashland, Virginia–“the Center of the Universe!”

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Big Daddy

[logon]
Virtual Railfan – LIVE
Ashland VA
Wait. . .wait. . .wait, THERE. . .out of the branches!
Engine Engine
Car, car, and car, and car,
Car, car, cars, car, car,
With car, and car, and car,
Plus car, car, car, car, but the
Camera slides smoothly around (COTU? Bruce?), then—
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
Autorack
And one more Autorack!
Rats, lost the bet!
Cookies for the other cool kids.
Back tomorrow!
Laters!
[logout]

Inauspicious

Twas an ordinary flying fellow
Heading home down the lane;
Thought he’d go visit
With his dear old lady again.

The lighted clock was now lit
While a train wailed from afar—
A local passing thru Ashland Town:
A manifest: car after car after another car.

Squirrels darted in and out the bushes
While that station camera squeezled back around.
Street lights spit alive then…at last…caught on.
In the chatroom, loving care shared all over by the pound.

Another new Summer night, half-moon graced a languid sky—
But crossing lights started to go on for poor old Myrtle Street:
Ditch lights slow grew to peek out from the lush trees
But station bells sounded behind! Could we all hope for a meet?

Our ordinary fellow was sure home with his gal,
A far flung flying day had found the setted Sun
And her tisker-taskets of screens and councils were finally over—
Vashlanders hooted or saluted, another day universally well-done.

Virtual Railfanning

I find myself caught in the mist between maybe and the maybe not,
With this shredded rudder and a jib which fails at its level best.
Is life always so testable? Please let it be multiple choice—
As fat fingers reach for another glass filled to its crest.

Now with passing rains that’ll never leave any trace,
We’re all a part of this same tired joke—
All of us punching the tattered line;
Whispering guffaws our parents wouldn’t have dared spoke.

Randomness lingers without offering any answers;
Hope smugly rises, then fades like a chimera.
There’s a late train passing thru Folkston—
COTU waves warm and deeply into the camera.

Passion calls bravely:
No one ought respond.
Remember the days of Doctor Who
And those wished-for nights with Amy Pond?

The poem yearns for some fulfilling reason;
Something clever, poignant, worthy of being read.
Ha! Good luck with all that—
I’m virtually going back to Ashland VA instead!

HBD to COTU

She came on down the tracks
A pile of happy years ago,
On the 23rd of some February
(The exact year we may never know).

Grew up so smart and so good;
Graduated college and worked on the TV:
Where she dazzled and produced like mad—
Collecting four little friends named Emmy!

Now joyful married, with three nice kids,
Who’re sometimes marvelous, oft-times pesky;
She Moderately commands virtual court on the web,
Wurking the VR camera sitting at her AMP desky.

Awarded and celebrated, appreciated and applauded,
She resides mighty in the Center of the Universe!
These poor words are to wish for her a Most Happy Birthday!
(Meh, who knows, it could have been worse…)

Sunday In Ashland

Capsizing pomegranates!
Two trains wide.
You zoom out to the crossing;
I’ll stay here and hide.
It’s lovely in the chatroom—
The Moderators can be so kind.
Quick, screenshot that Schnabel!
Tell me what it is you find!
A rainy Sunday in Ashland—
Droplets grace the screen.
Rewind with the red ball
To see what you coulda seen.
But, now it’s time to go in
And deal with deeds most pesky.
Later, we’ll all watch for the AT
Or manifests carrying jet ski.

A Gifting

A breeze freshened, then turned cold,
Another old story now to be retold:
Of seasonal wishes and hopes reborn,
Chances taken even if burnished by scorn.
Crossing the tracks, he walked into Tiny Tim’s store
Sunlight followed him in just like the weeks before
The shopkeeper smiled to see the young man arrive
Another payment to place, was it number four or five?
Four payments left and then soon Christmas comes,
That time of roasted chestnuts and puddings with plums.
Back to Cross Grocery and shelves to stack and refill
Earning his money for rent, food, and that toy store bill.
Twas a sudden quirk storm that roared into town:
Rain, billowing snow, then sleet rocketed down.
An SUV late for choir practice risked running the ringing gate,
But the Autotrain was faster, STOP!
…but, too late.
The clerk flew across the tracks to help if he could;
He pulled out the shopkeeper, nice old Josiah Wood,
And a couple of customers getting their purchases done;
Then, stayed with that car driver, trapped and sore alone.
Car and train had finished their dance at the toy store back door;
All happily survived, but that prepaid toy was of course no more.
Christmas Eve, and the clerk had just walked back home
To start his Ursa chili with his Woolworth’s pots of chrome.
A knock on the door, and oh my goodness, there on his stoop stood
That railroad councilwoman, and on crutches, Mister Josiah Wood!
Beckoning them to come in and get out of the cold,
Our clerk blushed in worry about what could be told.
Mister Wood then handed our clerk a box as he brushed away a tear:
The Lionel Train Set the clerk had been paying for over the past half year.
Pop-eyed, our clerk struggled to make good on giving proper appreciation,
The councilwoman said it’s they who wished to reward his aid and application.
The clerk still said thank you, for this most important gift, was meant for another—
A gentleman at the Ashland Nursing Home, a railroad friend of his departed mother.
The wind slowed to a pause for this, a new holiday silent night.
Twinkling merrily did the Christmas lights make for a sweet sight.
And, for our good neighbors who may forget old holiday rhymes,
It’s nice to remember: “For it is good to be children sometimes.”

A Virtual Christmas

Her bags had been packed for a little while;
She gave up, having given him his chance—
She’d hoped he’d call or maybe something more.
At last the horn sounded off in the distance.

She attended Randolph-Macon, a sweet little school,
In the heart of the little railroad town called Ashland.
Tuition was tight, and she had to work most nights,
But she managed to keep onto some cash in hand.

Going home on Christmas Eve, she bundled up tight.
He said something that he worked at something in travel,
But shared not very much more, though he held her hand.
At the crimson memory, she scuffed her shoes in the gravel.

The bells and lights popped on the England Street gates
While clanged the Regional into the charming station;
Down to Charleston for the last of the school holiday:
The tracks sang shrill along with her wistful anticipation.

As the P40 slowed to a pause on old track number three,
The student grabbed her suitcase to get on aboard.
The door unfolded open, the conductor stepped off;
The yellow stool down; he reached out to guide her forward.

Student-waitress and nice guy-conductor stood stock still—
Alan? Kathy? But the press of passengers soon broke the spell,
And everyone got onboard quickly and surely aboard.
I believe the two had lots to say, one could just kind of tell.

The bell clanged again on the AMTRAK Regional Southbound
As the train slipped slowly down the road-girded track.
Curious folks on an online camera wondered at the pas de duex:
Of two hearts with a whole new story that overnight they’d unpack.

The gates rose back up to home and the bells fell silent;
The holidays lights on the street lamps flickered small-town cheer.
One engine and 8 carriages had been rightly and true counted—
While Ashland, virtual and real, awaited a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

A Winter Southbound

The fallen leaves scattered across the tracks,
Southbound 53 would push these farther on.
A love that was empty as Ashland’s winter trees—
A hard weight was lifted now that she’d gone.

No tears, but also no joy, would be found here.
Yes, may the very best find its way over to her;
And should any good be left over hanging out
Perhaps might could entertain here along with Jack’s purr.

Santy Claus is due to arrive in a few days
And we’ve all tried to be and to do our best;
But sometimes it’s never close to good enough
And you cancel flights along with all the rest.

Maybe in the new year happiness real will come
And everyone can breathe and let it all just be;
Festivals and dances return for our lives renewed
And I can get back to that crescent bend in the Mississippi.

The southbound blew its horn passing thru Ashland town
And the online chatroom railfans counted up all the cars.
The empty trees shimmied in the rolling winter wind;
The resettled leaves looked up and counted up all the stars.

A November In Hancock County

HORN!
Wait…what do I hear?
Is that a train’s calling horn?
It’s warbling powerful note
That’s moved us since we were born?
Times a wasting!
Get on over to Ashland!
Gonna play at Train Day
The very best that I can!
GATES!
There go the gates
As the lights start to blink.
Saturday twould be better spent
Meeting Tender and Cinder, don’t you think?
MEET!
So, its November the Fourth,
From ten am until afternoon five;
For the best of an American little town
Proving Just Plain Goodness is still alive!
Please, sign the petition
And meet Kathy’s Clowns;
More fun than an old football team
Taking over on downs.
Gates UP!
So, get on over here
Before I’ve run out of verse;
Come to Train Day in Ashland—
At the Center of the Universe!

Wait…what do I hear
Is that a train’s calling horn?
It all starts this Saturday
On a fresh, cool Autumn’s morn.

(Happy Birthday sm6175!!!)