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Thursday, 24 February 2011

The train not standing...

The train you travel in arrives -
or it does not arrive - at a small wayside station,
and comes to a stop - or, not having arrived,
it does not stop. If it stops,
there will be people boarding it
and there will be others alighting - or
maybe there will be no-one getting on
and no-one getting off the train.
And it is possible that the train will not go on,
having for the moment nowhere to go, nowhere to get to.
If it does not stop and does not go on, it will not exist.
That seems self-evident. And that being so,
what then will become of you and all the other passengers?
How will you justify your existence?
Or will you, too, have ceased to exist?
Can you exist in a train that does not exist?
Can a train that does not exist hold you? Is it
germane to ask whether the non-existent train
in which you are or you are not travelling
is stationary or is moving as a train should? If, indeed,
you have ceased to exist, then how is the train to reappear?
And where? And under what circumstances?
And yourself: under what circumstances
might you reappear, with or without the train?
Why have you never thought about these things before?

22 comments:

Carl said...

You either wrote a poem or you did not. If you did and I did not respond do I exist? Do you?

Jim Murdoch said...

I'm just writing a review of a book of short stories in which there is a story in which there is a door which leads nowhere. Of all the stories in the book this is my favourite. I have always enjoyed existential puzzles like this and I thoroughly enjoyed your poem's contribution. You've been churning out some good stuff of late but I think this is one of your best.

TechnoBabe said...

It is all in the perspective and interpretation of the beholder. I read this post or I did not read it yet.

jane.healy said...

Indeed - what a delightful riddle.

Hannah Stephenson said...

That last line makes this poem for me...

Dave King said...

Carl
You seem to me to be suggesting that the response I received from you came from someone else who, therefor, must be existing in your place. Who then is existing in his - or her - place - the place that is - or was - not your place?

Jim
I actually posted this, wondering how it would be received. So far it has exceeded my expectations. I am grtaeful to you for your comments. I, too, enjoy such novels and stories. I did try to write one once. Not a great success! But I have not thought about trying the idea in poetry before.

TechnoBabe
It is, I am sure you are correct. If you read it, then you missed the ineffable experience of not having read it, but if you did not read it, then for you it does not exist, and so you have missed nothing.

jane
Many thanks for saying so.

Tabor said...

Is this a little Woody Allen or is it just me?

Dave King said...

Hannah
Thanks for that, it's the sort of comment that is both useful and interesting to hear.

Dave King said...

Tabor
If it is not you then it must be Woody Allen.

Crafty Green Poet said...

an intriguing riddle! Thinking too hard about this may make my brain hurt...

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have thought about this kind of thing before Dave but I have stopped doing so as it makes my brain hurt!

Helen said...

OK ... you've done it! I am dizzy and will never be able to board that train ~ Help!

Kat Mortensen said...

My mind is boggling with all the hypotheticals, Dave, but it's an enjoyable boggling.
You MUST see the Swedish film, "Songs From the Second Floor".

Kat

Sangu said...

This is great - and intriguing! I could read a dozen different interpretations into this!

Shadow said...

well, i haven't thought of this before, because you haven't asked before...

Dave King said...

Crafty Green Poet
I maybe should have issued a health warning with it.

Weaver of Grass
The health warning I didn't issue to Crafty Green Poet was for you also. Either you didn't read it or you did, in which case... Oh, I'm sure I don't need to go on...

Helen
But the train is packed with people who couldn't board it - and some who never did get on!

Kat
Sounds intriguing also. I shall look out for it. Thanks.

Sangu
Hi and welcome to the blog. Thanks for looking in, and thanks for commenting.

Shadow
What an excuse! Thanks for making it, though.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Wallace Stevens dear Dave has visited you, I feel, before this poem.

Dave King said...

Tommaso
I wish... but it's a lovely thought. Eternal thanks!

Rachel Fenton said...

Really enjoyed this, Dave. YOu sustained the poem just long enough to get my brain engaged but not so long as to exhaust it! Interesting questions you posit.

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable riddle about a time traveling train which never arrives at the destination you expect :-).

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I keep finding myself liking train poems.

Dave King said...

Rachel
Thanks, yes I did think myself it was long enough. Mind you, I make no promises for the future...

Windsmoke
... or was it!!! Thanks, anyway.

Glenn
Funny you should say that, I had begun to think it was my second childhood catching up on me - again !