THE 98'TH CHALLENGE - A 2'ND ATTEMPT

a poem by Drsudarsan Damodar Prasad, India

This poem honors an old steam locomotive driver who used to take extra pains and blow a long whistle and gesture wildly to ward off jay walkers at two busy unmanned railway crossings and to alert others about danger. His face used to beam and he used to salute us school students who patiently used to wait at the crossing for the train to pass. His coal ash blackened face coated with dust and his smiling face adorned with grey whiskers, and his broad grin set with perfect white teeth, they all will remain etched in my child hood memory for ever. I never knew his name, but let him be happy wherever he is. God bless him and grant
His noble soul peace and rest

The angry steam demon
Billowing black plumes
Of smoke arrives,
The mother earth shudders
Its belly on fire
Devouring black coal blocks
The angry tongues of flame
Leaping higher and higher,
Voracious as ever
For generating power.

The long whistle can wake up a corpse
Its whine and wail
So piercing and shrill
Sends down a chill
Down your spine
And reminds of the perils;
That life is fragile
And all can fall
Prostate and humble
Before death's mighty power and will.

Numerous are the lives
He saved , an angel
With the black tan of a coal worker.
His smile infectious and his white beard
Snow White like Santa's
Never saw him honored
In the corner of any news paper
Still he slogged
And worked, toiled
In burning heat, oblivious of dripping sweat
Giving me an abject lesson,
In how to be a good human-
Duty bound human

"Angels at work place
Teach us about greater deeds
Of lesser men, bound for heaven
Still happy to bid their time
Till the final call of curtain,
Doing their wee bit
To make this tiny
Earth , finally take its rightful place
In the orbs of heaven! "

Thanks Conrad for a deep title

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