Sunday, October 16, 2016

Robert Verdon, #330, The Stockman Train

went on an old train today
from Canberra’s sole and farcically-tiny railway station
should have been steam but a last-minute substitution
rendered it ‛heritage diesel’, an old shunting engine by the look of it

you could actually open the window
an old sash-type window
and the carriages squeaked less than the ageing XPT
quite a few oldies aboard
oldies running it too
like being inside a big caravan
though the wooden fittings had been
replaced by plastic fakery in the seventies

we learned inter alia
that Fyshwick
the industrial suburb we passed through
had been a P.O.W. camp
for Germans in the First World War
that the folks in the Headquarters Joint Operations Command that we also passed
worked underground
that the carriages had once served as rail-ambulances
saving wounded soldiers from the added injuries caused by Sydney’s wartime roads
some of which were made with half-sunk wooden blocks

went on an old train today
wind blowing through for air-conditioning
shot through three tunnels
more leisurely arrow than bullet
so bicycle-slow on the hills
you could almost pick the wildflowers
and so noisy the cows ran from us
people waved as we passed
the horn was tooted
the kids loved it

went on an old train today
it goes to Bungendore village every third Sunday
somehow the journey delighted
more than the destination


  1. How great that is, Robbie. Some fella who won some prize the other day once wrote that "it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry." Then he sang it. So many of us are riding together on that train today. Cheers.

  2. Thanks Rob. I did feel this poem could do with more sarcasm and bite — and maybe I'll get that elusive Nobel one day!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.