Morning rung to attention by distant train horn
beckoning me like an iron bell to a churchgoer.
Ears pass the call inside, stomach rumbles
for new roads, nose hungry for scraping steel.

My feet’s rhythm quickens,
the louder tones now clear –
five penetrating notes stacked up
in extravagant harmony,

complete yet open, pleasing yet dissonant –
to send the question through flesh
to my itching bones,
“Where to?”

Gulping the last of this town’s air,
I reach the platform before she stops,
perfume of steam, embrace of smoke
and glinting wheels capture my soul.

At the top of foot-polished steps
the conductor gives voice
to the now-silent whistle: “Where to?”
“How far West does she go?”


Blaise Kielar received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for an excerpt from his memoir in progress, "Be Heard: The Quiet Kid Who Started the World’s Loudest Violin Shop." He opened Chapel Hill’s first violin shop in 1978 and retired from a music retail career by transitioning Electric Violin Shop into the first worker-owned co-op music store in the United States. He plays jazz violin and clarinet in several bands and leads the Bulltown Strutters, Durham’s community New Orleans brass band.