One More Day To Gravy

Amtrak Residency
Day 11

20150323_13090920150323_085531Kali gnashed her teeth
Scraping across the sky
We scattered in her sweat
Leaped across its rivers
Looking for hard cover
Relishing the dance
Wiping out




Where’s Letter Man when you need him?

A chilly, snowy, slushy day in the Windy City. Awoke to falling snow and a forecast that had increased to 3 to 6 inches.

Another 10-mile run along Lake Michigan was out of the question so I ran 10 miles on a treadmill in my hotel’s fitness room. That might seem like a desperate act but after a 2 and half days of being sedentary on a train I had to sweat out some toxins and burn off the crazy.

20150323_130641I then had a scrumptious lunch at the nearby Berghoff Restaurant, a local landmark that’s been serving German-American cuisine since 1898. I particularly dug the beet salad and homemade potato chips with my chicken cutlet sandwich and their own signature root beer to wash it all down.

Later I  stayed cozy in my hotel lounge writing all afternoon and keeping an eye on’s train status map. Would the Capitol Limited leave on time at 6:40pm on this wintry spring day or would I be checking in for another night?

Great news, it was on time. I’ll be in DC tomorrow afternoon, then home to Philly.

Many thanks to Amtrak staff Carlos Aguilar, Myles, Greg and Carl for ensuring a delicious dinner and smooth ride. My dining partners were a Harvard-bound young man from South Sudan, raised in Israel, here studying international law (“Freedom is expensive. You have to fight for it.” His casual remark rang in my ears the rest of the night.), and Cara, a retiree on her way to Florida to pick up a Winnegabo and drive it back to Michigan. She’s also working on a children’s book about a haunted house. Ghosts and hauntings abounded on this trip, but also I’m flabbergasted by the number of writers I’ve met. The Amtrak rails are lousy with us. Even in the 21st century it still clearly holds a romantic, literary appeal.

FullSizeRenderTo top off my evening, my always inventive 4-year-old son back in Philly changed into his alter-ego, “Gravy,” who graces us with his presence sometimes, complete with sunglasses and a plastic whistle shaped like a mouth that he keeps clenched in his front teeth, usually recounting that he’s just flown in from a trip to England.  #futureactor #futureprivateye #nexteltonjohn

Speaking of alter-egos, a free bonus: me singing and playing the ultimate train song 7 or 8 years ago under an assumed name (that of my great-grandfather). Hope you like it.  #howmuchilovetrains #caseyjones #mississippijohnhurt

Thank you, Amtrak, for a once in a lifetime experience. I am grateful to be among the 24.

Uploaded on Nov 20, 2008

Sung by Witcher Ferguson (Jeffrey Stanley). Based on the classic American folk ballad originally written by Wallace Saunders, my recording is largely inspired by the Mississippi John Hurt version although I’ve borrowed verses from other versions to create a more complete narrative.