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Lullaby Near the Railroad Tracks
A. E. Stallings


Go back to sleep. The hour is small.
        A freight train between stations
Shook you out of sleep with all
        Its lonely ululations.

Through the stillness, while you slumber,
        They trundle down the track,
Lugging cattle, coal, and lumber,
        Crying, “alack, alack.” 

It’s cheap to pay the engineer: 
        The moon’s a shiny dime. 
Shut your eyes and you will hear 
        The Doppler shift of time. 

The hour is small. Resume your rest. 
        Tomorrow will be kinder. 
Here comes a freight train nosing west, 
        Pulling the dawn behind her.

From Hapax, Triquarterly Press (2006).
This poem also appeared in Light (Spring 2000) and Lilt.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Daughter of a university professor and a librarian, Alicia Elsbeth Stallings gained an awareness of reading and writing at an early age. Fond of William Blake and T.S. Eliot (though she says A. E. Housman is her favorite poet), she began publishing poems while still in high school. A fan of classical myths and fairy tales, Alicia has established a reputation as a formalist; she is the author of two award-winning books and a Latin verse translation. Raised in Decatur, Georgia, she and her husband, John Psaropoulos, moved to Greece in 1999, where Alicia is program director for the Athens Centre and he is editor of the Athens News. Her latest book, Olives, is scheduled for publication in April 2012.


Olives: Poems
by A. E. Stallings


Post New Comment:
Basically I love anything to do with trains - the more mournful, the better...Thanks for the thoughts!
Posted 01/23/2012 05:27 AM
At the end I thought....Wow! Thank you ~ Judy
Posted 01/13/2012 02:19 PM
Lovely example of why rhyming still works if done well.
Posted 01/13/2012 11:48 AM
Glen Sorestad:
Beautifully written with a musical terseness that at times astonishes me.
Posted 01/13/2012 09:21 AM
ed werstein:
It reads so easy, so rhythmic. Like a Steve Goodman song, it's got the backbeat of the rails driving it.
Posted 01/13/2012 09:21 AM
ed werstein:
the Doppler shift of time. Love it.
Posted 01/13/2012 09:16 AM
Fine poem that ends with strength.
Posted 01/13/2012 09:12 AM
Posted 01/13/2012 08:56 AM
I am always fond of rhymed work that doesn't really sound rhymed--the words simply flow and the meaning is never forced. Beautiful poem.
Posted 01/13/2012 08:32 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Alicia Stallings never fails to astound me with her skill. She's certainly done it again with this one.
Posted 01/13/2012 07:27 AM
I grew up next to a railway so trains have a special place in my thoughts always. Love this poem the smallness of the hour. Beautiful:))
Posted 01/13/2012 06:14 AM
Janet Leahy:
So many lovely images and sounds and the hope that "tomorrow will be kinder", thanks for this gentle poem.
Posted 01/13/2012 05:07 AM

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