Wednesday, October 22, 2008



I started out life flanked by my
mother’s wild flower garden
and the Kanawha river,
that ran cold and choppy
over the shoals that held
fresh water mussel beds,
ancient in their ruin.

I was captured at an early age,
held prisoner, then protected
by the mountains all around me.

At night, I was lulled to sleep
by the rhythmic clankety-clank
of the coal trains,
pulsing up and down the tracks
- like blood in veins -
keeping the people alive.


Rick said...

Wow! Do I get to be the first to post on this? It is a fine, evocative poem. I love the phras the "rhythmic clakety-clank of the coal trains." It took me back to my childhood days living on the far edge of town near the railroad tracks.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rick, lol - Yeah...but, sorry there is no prize or anything for being first - just my gratitude. Glad I could help pull up some childhood memories for you. Hope they are happy ones. ;)

Sarah Hina said...

I really liked the transition from prisoner to daughter of those mountains. That so precisely captures our feelings about home as we age, I think.

There is a great duality of stillness and motion here. It makes me wonder how long those coal trains will continue to pulse. And what the people who relied on them will do when the tracks fall completely silent.

Beautiful as always, K. I feel like I know your town. Southeastern Ohio isn't so far away. :)

Hans Ford said...

do you look for pictures /paintings to fit your poetry or are you inspired by the objects you see.They always seem to fit so perfectly with your writings. Hats off to your daughter for her images on canvas

blue possum said...

Trains are almost magical, don't you think? I bet hearing a train now takes you right back to your childhood. And you can even imagine what you were thinking as a child when you heard it. Very nice!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Sarah - You really tuned in to the heart of the poem.

I don't live in WV anymore, but still live in the mountains - in PA. I spent many a day at my uncle's farm near Gallipolis, Ohio. I do love that part of the country.

Many thanks for your support of my work, Sarah. It means a lot to me.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hans, It is a little of both, I guess. I have lucked out with some of the photos. I am really new at this blogging I have only begun to pair written work with pictures. Sometimes, I take a picture with a particular poem in mind. But, most always, I write the poem that is in my head, then try to get a painting or photo to match.

Thank you for acknowledging Merissa's paintings. (Her artwork is amazing.);)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Blue Possum - Oh my Gosh...yes, they are! I don't hear or see too many nowadays, but when I do - it is so reminiscent of the past. When my sister still lived in WV, we would be talking on the phone. I would hear the train whistle in the background and say..."SHHH! Let me hear the train go by." She would go outside on her porch and hold the phone up in the air! LOL!

trooping with crows said...

- like blood in veins -
keeping the people alive.

I think as human beings we are "kept alive" by our connection to, for lack of a better word, inanimate objects. Our home, a painting hanging in your bedroom, the sound of a train.
A nice, to the point poem. A nicely illustrated little slice of life. It sounds like your childhood was pleasant and poetic.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

TWC - I agree with you. Our familiar surroundings, our little treasures, the birds that come to our feeders, etc. I have numerous rocks that I love for one reason or another - found here and there -our interests in life...certainly our family.

My childhood was idealic. ;)

Anonymous said...

I can't analyze this one deeply, because it just feels right for some reason. I grew up in western Pennsylvania. Not coal country, but where the coal was going to make steel. You nailed it. The wanting to stay and run at the same time.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Yes, I am sure you had the same feelings. Now, I want to go back and relive somethings - just the way they happened. Funny how things that we didn't appreciate become so important later on in life.

Julie said...

Wow! I saw you at S.L. Corsua's site, "Unguarded Utterance." This poem is absolutely 100% beautiful and awesome. Yes, I know that river!!!

I love how you describe West Virginia on your site as rich in folklore and superstitions. I can relate to that from my own neck of the woods (Carolina). West Virginia is beautiful, as is this poem!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful piece - you can feel the rhythm of the trains - you can feel yourself falling into a peaceful rest --- beautiful country, peaceful memories --


Scott Ennis said...

It's a fantastic poem. It lets me feel the place as you must have felt it. But the title, Icons, reminds me that there is more. An icon is a representation of something deeper, broader, more significant maybe. So, although there is a calm satisfaction in reading the poem itself, there is also a longing now inside of me to know what else, what more. Well done.

Annamari said...

it flows well, but what I liked the most is the way nostalgia is captured here. I felt it….

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - I am new to blogging...I don't know how but these were waiting for moderation. I saw them by mistake :P (I have no idea what I am doing) lol

Anyway - I appreciate your comments so very much. I have been on your site and love your writing. You are such a talent! I did leave a big comment on your last poem...but I never saw it on the site. I read your poem on "Grits". Really fine stuff! Thanks again - I'll see you soon, Julie.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Barbara - Sorry, it took me so long to respond. I didn't know that you had left a comment.

Thanks for the kinds words. I am happy to meet such good writers. Your blog is superb. I will be back over there this weekend. My thanks again for stopping by. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Scott, many thanks for visiting me. I am just getting around to some of the poets who S.L. posted. I appreciate your good insights and hope that you will stop by often. I will be coming over to your blog this weekend. It is wonderful to meet you. KLG

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Annamari, I am so happy that you visited Old Mossy Moon. I took a swing over to your blog and liked what I saw. I will visit again, and stay longer to comment, on the weekend. Thanks for the kind words. :)

Anonymous said...

I really like how you have portrayed the strong connection with the place where you grew up. We had no trains were I was born, but I can feel their calming presence here.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Yuzublizzard - Yes, trains really played a big part in my growing up. From riding on them, to waving at the man sitting on the platform of the red caboose, to hearing their long, lonesome whistles - it was all magic. ;)

I appreciate your stopping in to visit the Old Mossy Moon. Hope you will come again soon.

Yours is an inspiring blog - beautifully designed and so well written. I will come to read your work again and again. KLG