Riding Freight by Joel Robert Ferguson

adrift on a line                     revering machine precision         bearing our lives slowly

through interchanges                          around blind corners
causeways across muskeg                                  mile markers
where mottled bits of dross float
            plastic bags in dead trees                    the only sign of civilization

.                              unseen             lulled on by the rhythm of this stillness

open-air metal coffins                 the porches of grain cars
grime and soot                   the smell of grease following us through city
.                                                                                                           upon city, railyards
hushed by the bull’s flashlight
the yard workers’ high beams

in the name of this world’s sovereign                         (Capital)

a night of wilderness remains
blank to us above                                                             the plains oh lord
at rest                    at a siding            lightning (purple and gold) on all horizons

to emerge hundreds of miles later        the magic trick pulled off           unscathed

and praying to remain grounded


Copyright © Joel Robert Ferguson. Originally published in Prairie Fire (39.2, Summer 2018).


Joel Robert Ferguson’s poetry has appeared in various publications, including CV2Lemon HoundThe Columbia ReviewPrairie Firefilling Station, and The Capilano Review. Originally from the Nova Scotian village of Bible Hill, he divides his time between Winnipeg and Montreal, where he is pursuing a Masters in English Literature at Concordia.

Subscribe to Poetry Pause or visit the Poetry Pause Archives.


Prairie Fire is an award-winning Canadian journal of innovative writing that is published quarterly by Prairie Fire Press, Inc. Each issue is a fresh, vibrant mix of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction by our most celebrated writers and the hottest new voices of our emerging writers. It consistently features solid writing that will engage your mind and delight your spirit – and has been doing so for over 40 years!

Subscribe to Prairie Fire here.