>Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train (Cont’d–Part I.7)

At the bottom of the millpond lies a ruined slipper.
Sleet falls slantwise into the canal.

The gelid surface is blank with the pain of a new spring.
On the factory roof, the tarpaper flaps in the wind.

It is torn loose. It somersaults & sails out
a black ribbon into the dirty March sky.

On the top of the wall the nest
of the Brown Thrasher is put together with old flags.

It was my Aunt Hettie who taught the blind to read and
was vouchsafed in return prophetic gifts:

In 1980 she prophesied
that the Dutch Elm disease would come
that the Japanese Beetle would come and be annihilatated
The whole White River Valley would be declared a Depressed Area
and be rejuvenated by manufacturing army boots
She prophesied that Calvin Coolidge would come
that Senator Leverett Saltonstall would come
that Bernard Goldfine would come
and Governor Adams would be paid off in light wool
She said that pornography would be exhibited.

In his buttonhole my father wore a rouge flower
given to him by Thurston the Magician
shortly before he was thrown from the window
of the Statler Hotel in a cigar box
into the Blackstone River.
For months afterwards
the conduits & watermains were clogged.
The Textile mills had to be shut down.

–from Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train, by Robert Nichols (City Lights Books, 1962)

About the author


  1. >Ah, thanks for the poem. I am a fan of the Brown Thrasher (a skulking bird without the vocal gifts of the other mimics but with an elegant tail.) Nice site.

  2. >I had never seen a brown thrasher until I moved to the country. Now there is one that takes up residence in my yard every summer. You’ve got to love a woodpecker that doesn’t peck wood.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.