Riding in Boxcars

Riding in Boxcars is a collection of fifty-seven poems and photographs exploring our lives and our surroundings. The author has written from his own perspective, but in a way that relates to many of the issues that face all of us as we travel on the trains of our choosing through our lives.

Trains have a life of their own. Grumbling and rattling along, through the cities and countryside, they form their own ever-changing community. They are pulled apart and put together at the slightest whim, but they always retain their individuality. No two trains are ever exactly alike. Cars and riders are traveling together briefly, but they are all headed for different destinations.

As in life, trains have a certain class system. The engines and passenger cars get most of the glory; containers, hopper cars, tankers and various specialized carriers are soulless attachments. Certainly the engines are the leaders, dragging the rest along. The passenger cars and all the special diners, sleepers, etc. are where the upper class go for their luxury trips.

But no one rides in the passenger cars or drives the engines for very long. Most of life is actually lived making our own way through life and hopping rides in something similar to the old-fashioned boxcars. These are the places where baggage and pets are found, where life is kind of messy, and where the passengers get bumped and jostled by the journey’s starts and stops and sharp turns.

These are the cars that are sometimes open to the world and sometimes feel like a closed cubicle. We each manufacture our own boxcars and attach them to the different trains that come along in our lives. And that is what makes them special. We can and do hop off these cars frequently, searching for other trains to ride and other cars to build. Sometimes we find good ones and ride them to the end. Sometimes we wind up on a siding wondering what the heck happened.

When you ride in boxcars, you are never sure of the arrival time or even the destination. That’s what makes them so fascinating.




She emerged shyly,
Slowly shedding wrappings.
Naked. Blushing.
Soft layers opening
To gentle touch.
Beauty begging,
To be inhaled.
Incense from a smoldering fire,
Glowing red.

Red as the budding flower,
First bursting free.
Red as the trickling blood,
From thorns green panoply.
Red as delicate petals,
Strewn on forest floors.
Red as the secret place,
Where love’s sweet rose


lighthouse at ChristmasChristmas Day

We gather together,
For lost childhoods
And home work undone.
Eating from platters
Shared for decades
With those now framed
In old photographs.

We gather together,
Mixing meals,
In cultural blenders
Prepared for young and old.
Traditions traded
Like baseball cards.
Bringing new treasures.

We gather together,
Tied by red ribbons,
Strung on family trees.
Children receiving the gifts,
Handed down
Through generations.
Brightly wrapped,
Or given in a smile.

We gather together,
Singing ancient carols
Of spiritual renewal.
Ends and beginnings,
In the promise,
This day born.


moon thru trees at nightNight Riders

The riders
Climb wearily up the stairs,
And scatter,
Seeking space.
Old women
Wrestling with shopping bags,
And boxes tied with twine.
Young men
With no baggage,
Except their birth.

The engine rumbles awake,
Then settles to a low whine,
Inviting uneasy sleep.
Approaching headlights
Ricochet off the glass,
Then disappear.
Blending with stops and starts,
And potholes,
In familiar rhythm.

The towns,
Strung out,
Like bread crumbs
On a winding path.
Mark places
To pass through.
The driver calling out
Their names.
A few departing,
Among the faded signs
And broken street lamps.

Those not asleep,
Pretending they are elsewhere.
With empty eyes,
At their reflections,
Hiding in the dark.
For the driver,
To call their names.



Rolling through fields of bright images, you’ll soon find yourself deep in the heartland of the American experience.
Rick Broussard New Hampshire Magazine

Your poems touched my heart... a beautiful book.
Anita HickeyThe Book Swap Café

An incredible feat... .His taming of the English language transcends the realm of the literal; his poetry is a piping-hot mug of tea and your favorite armchair...the smell of wood grain in a log cabin, and his conceptual grasp of what it truly means to write is as satisfying as sitting on your father’s lap when you were a kid.
Michael Manahan Blast Magazine