Friday, 4 June 2010

King of the Hobos

King of the Hobos

With a final wave of his owl-feathered stick
Steam Train Maury took a westbound freight.

He took a train to Toledo, to the end of the line
His white hair blowing like steam in the air.

Old friends were there when the train pulled in -
Frying Pan Jack with a scrubbed-out stewpot
And the Philadelphia Kid with a deck of crumpled cards -

Steam Train drew an 8 and a 9.

(early version of poem in Poetry Monthly during 2007)

Steam Train Maury Graham, last Grand Patriarch of the American Hobos, passed away on 18th November 2006 near Toledo. He was 89. Probably the end of an era.


  1. I like this - it reminded me that I was thinking recently about what poetry is and how that as well as form, musicality, use of technique, it was about content: about what the poet want to focus his gaze on, and therefore draw our gaze to. It's about seeing (as opposed to just looking in the direction of) humanity, the world, the zeitgeist (and seeing through the zeitgeist).

    I think this is why people often feel perplexed when they read a poem and as themselves why is that poetry? The answer isn't just to be found in the poem but in the relationship of the poem to the world.

  2. The San Francisco Chrnonicle did a big, wonderful spread when Maury died.

  3. Hi Dominic and Mike, I think I was saddened when I read of the death of this King of the Hobos because I felt that with his passing a kind of adventurous or romantic light or something like that within me, or perhaps within the greater world, was extinguished. I wanted to explore that. It was a similar feeling I had when I heard that Arthur C Clarke had passed away. There's a poem on the blog: the title - "Goodbye, Arthur C Clarke" I think it is.
    I haven't seen the San Francisco Chronicle spread but I can imagine how wonderful it is.
    Best, Gwilym
    ps- Dominic, How's your injury? How long were you out. Have you fully recovered? I've overtrained my groin now. I think I'll be out months rather than weeks.

  4. Sorry to hear that. Not you too! It's a *****er.

    I've just started this week, gentle jogs of about a mile, barefoot. Getting slight discomfort on and off which could either be the injury on the way out or a warning. I'm not going to push it, but just keep up the short runs.

    Worst case scenario is that it's a sports hernia which requires surgery, but I always brood on worst case scenarios, so it probably isn't!

    You better check it out for yourself, but cycling, apparently, is a form of exercise you can take a few weeks into getting over a groin strain and I've done a bit of that.

  5. I should have added, I don't know what your groin strain is like, but these were my main symptoms:

    Discomfort in lower left abdomen, felt like an abdominal muscle strain.

    Pain along the crease between left leg and abdomen.

    Aches in the area of the adductor muscles.

    Stabbing pain underneath, on the slope of the pubic arch (left of centre). This came on really bad - it took my breath away and stopped me in my tracks! I suspect the other pains were "referred pain".

  6. Hi Dominic, sorry to be so long replying but I've been away fromthe pc.
    I reckon I've got the first 3 symptoms but not the fourth so maybe my injury is not so bad as yours. I'm going to try some gentle cycling.

    Some 'experts' say the England footballer Rooney still suffers from a groin injury sustained in September. Could be a long job for me, nearly 40 years older, then?

    But better to be injured in active sport, as my knee surgeon said, than to be a 40 cigs a day patient in the lung clinic.


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