Malcolm Willison

Setting Out

The muffled stationmaster’s voice
sends frigid passengers to embark.
The train, arrived already, has the plush
of travel, though this is unreserved.

Are the “Safety Instructions”
airline-style in the forward seat-back net
meant to compete, or are they worried
what would happen if coaches flew?

As we start off, three kids on ice
wave emblematic arms
while others wander up an old dirt road
our town has overlooked.

Vacant windows of rusty hulks
refuse acknowledgment
and overlook what trash there is
against their fences.

Third-growth woods begin
to close on denizens
in small pitched houses,
little smoke out chimney pipes.

Winter’s filigree on no one’s land
picked out with men’s debris–
and women’s too?—
go barreling by.

But mostly oak and maple saplings
set giant’s stubble
to cover the shallow-snow tracks
of furry creatures now burrowed deep.

Promise of a thrilled arrival far beyond
sucks this trip faster, taking on a subtler smell
of privileged luggage and cleaned upholstery
the city’s elegance will entertain.


Malcolm WillisonMalcolm Willison is a manuscript editor and teacher who has been writing and publishing poetry for quite a long time in and sometimes about New Orleans, Key West, New York City and upstate New York, and other places around the world.

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