i wrote this in 1963. It initially seemed a bit strange to me as it sounds so much like my first experience with the Santa Fe Station here in San Diego, but i was not in the Santa Fe Depot until at least the 1980’s. Then i remembered. In early June 1963, my parents took me to Nashville’s Union Station. There was no train involved, but at the time, Trailways Buses had a station in the old depot. As a third-class midshipman, i took a bus from Nashville to Newport, Rhode Island. i could have flown but reasoned (well, may reason wasn’t really involved) i could take the money i saved and use it for other purposes. i blew it all. The bus went through Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and probably several other places. i left Nashville noon Saturday and arrived in Newport around 7:00 am, Monday morning. There are a couple of other stories around that trip. But i’m sure this poem was generated by a scene in one of the bus stations on that trip. i’m thinking maybe Louisville.
A Lonely Thing
the huge room with the high ceiling was virtually empty;
the loud speaker’s bark echoed with a hollow ring;
the black night air was forlorn, almost chilly,
the bus’s muffled roar was a lonely thing.
the old man with ragged shoes sat down in the wooden seat,
his odor was of the musty, smoke-filled air;
he picked up the butt of the nickel cigar and caressed it,
lit up and stroked his long, near-mangy hair.
the huge archaic clock showed it to be early morning
as the speaker throated huskily once more,
the old man arose, straggled out of the entrance;
alone, he gazed back through the glass-paned door.