by Leland Jamieson

A Dream Sequence

In Dreaming Eye the railroad bed dissolved
from tracks beneath a deck-less flat-car frame
to carriage wheels which had for miles revolved

until they rolled to rest, quite glad to claim
a whistle stop to take a little cooling pause
and get cups filled — as oilers each took aim.

The oilers there were old-time ghosts whose paws
in gloves pumped oil not used since Timken’s time,
and each of them had cried his last ‘ah-hahs’

on finding oil cups shrieking for a prime . . . .
The carriages, once two, dissolved to one,
and that to none — no parts, no scraps, no grime.


His motel room had freshly been redone
in gold-striped stippled green. The paper’s paste,
not dry, choked up his throat. I’ll cut and run,

he thought. He set about to pack, in haste,
but all that he’d unpacked and put away
were not, now, his: black socks, black shoes that laced . . . .

He was an interloper! Couldn’t stay.
How’d this occurred? Quickly, he must, just must
move on — and must let go of his dismay.


He’d leased a shiny sporty jeep. He cussed
the dealer out because the key would not
ease in the lock no matter how he thrust

or giggled, teased or coaxed — it steadily fought
his thumb. The dealer pointed out a lock
shop, saying, “That will be your last, best shot.”


He headed for the shop, a three-block walk,
but striding near, it faded from his route,
and at his feet the street turned into rock

and stones and sand — mixed till he’d little doubt
a glacier left in its retreat. It pitched
him steeply down a gully-washer’s spout.

He bottomed in a valley deeply ditched
to drain off flash-flood waters well before
they threatened shops and homes . . . . But, now, he itched

to climb back up and find that vanished store,
that “best shot” key shop which eluded him.
He turned. The glacial rubble was much more

a cliff than he’d remembered. It looked grim.
Was this how he’d descended that high hill?
He clawed his way up towards its towering brim.

But every stony foot-hold he could drill,
each hand-hold grip, would just give way and slide
and slip him further down the dusty till.

Weary, he rested . . . . He was mystified
with feeling for the till . . . . Why had he fought
these grains of sand, these boulders at his side?

It spoke! “It’s in repose of arms once taut
with fear that you embrace your gift of grit
despite appearances you thought you sought.”

[NOTE: Timken’s time: In 1915 the Timkin Company brought out the tapered roller-bearing, which slowly eliminated the oil cup, and oilers’ jobs, on railroads in the U.S. by the late mid-century.]

© 2008 by Leland Jamieson


About the Author

Leland Jamieson lives and writes in East Hampton, Connecticut, USA. Recent and forthcoming work appears in numerous print and Internet magazines. His first book, 21st Century Bread, can be previewed and is available at


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