Tethered together, they trudge forward, weighed down by forgotten lives,
Those men they were before.
Shuffling steps slow their progress, breeding the dust of broken dreams
Wobbling, side to side, like orange-clad penguins,
Heavy bands of iron on their ankles and wrists, chained together
Rough jewelry earned link by link,
A constant reminder of a lifetime of careless actions,
Selfishness or greed, poverty or desperation,
Unbridled passion or drug-addled brain, or
Voices demanding actions only they understood in the moment.
A chain of misery
Forged by their own hands
Inescapable heinous deeds have brought them here,
Tether them together
As they trudge forward
When Wednesday’s wintry winds whisper with every evening breeze,
Silence stealthily creeps from easy slumber into the uncertainty of somnambulistic wanderings,
Eyes open to a watery world of perpetual peace,
Sweet-scented, soft summer breezes kiss shimmering moonlit sands,
Surf sounds enchant the silken shore in a symphony of ebb and flow,
Starlight catches the crosscurrents, white caps wending their way towards the rock-ribbed shores.
Barefoot and bare-breasted, her eyes eclipse time, outward searching,
Every evening she steals forth from the warmth of the hearth
To listen to the whispers of another wintry Wednesday, to wait and to weep.
The Empire Line
The sky hugs the mountaintops
And shifts down into the valley
Kissing the Hudson River shoreline.
The pane of glass is rain-soaked
And the only sounds I hear are
Rustling clothes and luggage wheels
And the engine’s great inhale before she trudges forward.
We move with habitual purpose.
Crimson and orange leaves fly past me in ever-changing patterns
Tiny ripples swim across in tandem
Legions of them, pressing forward
Vanishing from view before they soak the far shore
Telephone wires snake from pole to pole, some taut,others dipping
The poles an ancient forest, some battered and tilted, bearing a lifetime of scars
Others younger and upright
All bearing tidings of comfort and joy, of sorrow and despair.
I sink into my seat
Enjoying the freedom
To feel and not think
To wander the countryside as it flashes by
To drink in the the rising hills
To gaze into the underbrush
Searching for deer or rabbit
Safe in my seat
Mindful of the miles I’ve traveled to be here
Hurtling towards the teeming city, the noisy bustling crowds
In the looming steel and asphalt
The train whistle blares repeatedly,
Warning of our approach
We burst out of the foliage
Rain streaking down my windowpane
Engulfed by concrete and darkness
Kathleen Chamberlin is a retired educator living in Albany, New York. She began writing creatively during the quarantine period of Covid-19. Her writing has appeared in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Open Door Magazine, The World of Myth, The Manifest-Station, The Wise Owl, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Sad Girls Club, The Green Shoe Sanctuary, 100Subtexts, The Pine Cone Review, and in the anthologies The Book of Black, Breath of Love, Snowdrifts, Effluressence, Revenge, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Attitude of Gratitude. In addition to writing creatively, she enjoys gardening, genealogy, and grandchildren.