‘The Last Sunday Train’ by Tom Sexton

We have a new poem by Tom Sexton of Lowell and Alaska and Maine.—PM


The Last Sunday Train

Little did I know back then when I walked

beside my father to the old North Station,

after Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain

pitched a doubleheader, that the Boston

Braves would soon call Milwaukee home.

We had tickets given to us by a neighbor.

There were six people on the Buddliner

when it finally pulled out of the station:

a man who missed his train to Montreal

and was spending the night in Lowell,

a woman who I was certain was a maid

because of her black dress and sturdy shoes,

a sleepy conductor with one eye on a man

with a pint of Four Roses not quite hidden

from sight in the side pocket of his jacket,

me waving my Braves’ banner by the window,

and my father who was anxious to get home

because he had to leave for work at 5 a.m.

Four Roses squinted at me and said, “Many

years ago the Braves were the Beaneaters.”

He said it as if he was telling me a secret,

which caught the attention of Montreal,

who thought Beaneaters might be an insult

aimed in his direction, like peasouper was.

He glared at Four Roses, and the maid moved

to the back to be closer to the conductor.

My father suggested they pass the bottle

around, and everyone seemed to like the idea.

He glanced at me and passed the whiskey

to the conductor without even taking a sip.

Before long, led by a now-smiling Four Roses,

they were swaying with the car past

dark station after dark station, field after field,

singing “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,”

almost a lament, or so it seems to me now,

as we rode our earthbound comet toward Lowell

and its depot that was soon to be demolished.


—Tom Sexton (c) 2013