Black Train 


My backbone is a black train. 

I start on the grass. It moans for me. 

It will lay down and burn for me. 

You will see its smoke for years and years. 

It will lay out in one direction

in the wind

yellow against the blue sky. 

I will lick it with my sides. 

It will not hold me. 

It will fall away forever towards the mountains. 

I will cross the river. I will come

to black trees. They will stare at me. 

I will carry them. I will carry them. 

I will carry them down

to the ocean. You will see them

gone white in the sun. They will be 

quiet. Their eyes will float out to sea. 

They will not know me. They will not know my name. 

I will make a voice. It will be alone. 

You will hear it all night long falling away

towards the west. It will carry you. 


[Black Train] Out of The Third, Momo's Press (c) Beverly Dahlen, 1974


Beverly Dahlen is an American poet. Her first book Out of the Third, was published by Momo's Press in 1974. Two chapbooks, A Letter at Easter (1976) and The Egyptian Poems (1983) were followed by the publication of the first volume of A Reading (1––7) (1985), a serial poem that continues to be in process. Since then, four more volumes of A Reading have appeared, A Reading 11-17 (1989), A Reading 8-10 (1992), A-Reading Spicier & Eighteen Sonnets (2004), and A Reading 18-20 (2008). Dahlen was a co-founder, with Kathleen Fraser and Frances Jaffer, of the feminist poetics newsletter (HOW)ever.

Dahlen received a Small Press Traffic Lifetime Achievment Award (2011) and Grants to Artists (2013). Dahlen earned her B.A. from Humbolt State University and continued her studies at San Francisco State. She currently teaches writing workshops in schools and teaches at the City College of San Francisco.