A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

We are the official wavers of the trains.
This is what we do.
Twice a day we come to these tracks to wave.
Sometimes those in the train wave back.
Sometimes they do not.
And we always smile.
Yes, even in the rain and cold we are there.
We greet the passing of the train

Yellow Sub

A Tale by extetsjoibe

My mother, when my eldest brother Osman was born, nursed the eldest Khan, Abu Nutsal Khan. Then she nursed the second son of the Khan, Umma Khan, and reared him; but Akhmet my second brother died, and when I was born and the Khansha bore Bulach Khan, my mother would not go as wet-nurse again. My father ordered her to, but she would not. She asked: “Should I again kill my own son? I will not go.’

Then my father, who was passionate, struck her with a dagger and would have killed her had they not rescued her from him. So she did not give me up, and later on she composed a song . . . but I need not tell that.

Hadji Murad grew thoughtful. He remembered how his mother had laid him to sleep beside her under a fur coat on the roof of the saklya and he had asked her to show him the place in her side where the scar of her wound was still visible.

He remembered the fountain below the hill when holding onto his mother’s sarovary (loose Turkish trousers) when he went with her for water. He remembered how she had shaved his head for the first time and how the reflection of his round bluish head in the shining brass vessel that hung on the wall had astonished him. He remembered a lean dog that had licked his face. He remembered the strange smell of the lepeshki (a kind of flat cake) his mother had given him – a smell of smoke and sour milk. He remembered how his mother had carried him in a basket on her back to visit his grandfather at the farmstead and left him there. He remembered his wrinkled grandmother. He remembered all of this. But he remembered most how his mother would wake him with her bright sun even after she was long gone, turning down the path away from her parent’s home without even a look backwards.

Where is your mother now? someone asked.

My mother is now in Shamil’s hands, he answered, and she must be rescued. When he smiled, he captivated everyone around him.

No, one of the others said. This was long ago. She is no longer in his hands.

Yes, I know, he said. I just want to see the scar one more time, that’s all. I want to see how her scar became a bright yellow sun.

Cowboy Jake

A Poem by Author unknown

Jake, the rancher, went one day,
To fix a distant fence.
The wind was cold and gusty;
The clouds rolled gray and dense.

As he pounded the last staples in
And gathered his tools to go,
The temperature had fallen;
The wind and snow began to blow

When he finally reached his pickup,
He felt a heavy heart;
From the sound of that ignition,
He knew it wouldn’t start!

So Jake did what most of us would do,
Had we been there
He humbly bowed his balding head
And sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key for one last time,
He softly cursed his luck.
They found him three days later,
Frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life
And done his share of roaming.
But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked –
It looked just like Wyoming!

Of all the saints in Heaven,
His favorite was St. Peter.
(Now, this line ain’t really needed,
But it helps with rhyme and meter)

So they set and talked a minute or two,
Or maybe it was three.
Nobody was keeping score
–In Heaven time is free.

“I’ve always heard,” Jake said to Pete,
“That God will answer prayer,
But one time when I asked for help,
Well, HE just plain wasn’t there.”

“Does God answer prayers of some
And ignore the prayers of others?
That don’t seem exactly square
–I know all men are brothers.”

“Or does he randomly reply,
Without good rhyme or reason?
Maybe, it’s the time of day,
The weather or the season.”

“Now I ain’t trying to act smart,
It’s just the way I feel.
And I was wondering, could you tell me —
What the heck’s the deal?!”

Peter listened patiently,
And when old Jake was done,
There were smiles of recognition,
And he said, “So, you’re the one!!”

“That day! Your truck; It wouldn’t start,
And you sent your prayer a flying,
You gave us all a real bad time,
With hundreds of us all trying.”

“A thousand angels rushed,
To check the status of your file,
But you know, Jake,
We hadn’t heard from you, in quite a long while.”

“And though all prayers are answered,
And God ain’t got no quota,
He didn’t recognize your voice,
And started a truck in Minnesota!”