Insulator Caps

By Elise Pallagi

Unpublished, 2017

When I was a kid
I really loved trains
Touring the insides of cabooses
Just a little brat
Playing by the tracks


Getting in deep shit
From my parents
For trying to train hop
With a friend
At the tender age of five


Maybe I was destined

To be a hobo
Sneaking my way
Down the tracks
Avoiding the bulls
Under the glint
Of glass insulator caps


Sneaking my way onto
The backs of hoppers
Cursing the extinction
Of boxcars
Ridden by the hobo’s of old


I wanted to be
Just like Jack Keroauc
But that romanticized version
Of the nomad’s life is dying
If not dead already


Yet still, I commiserate With train hoppers
Under the bridge
Slamming back bottles
Of cheap wine and X-Gold
Swapping stories of adventures
New and old

Panhandling for beer money
On Baker Street
Dumpstering for dinner
And making camp in the railyard


Walking out to Highway 96
And thumbing a ride
Cause you see
I’m too much of a chickenshit
To hop trains


The days of Neil Cassidy, Allen Ginsberg
And Jack Kerouac are done
And so am I with the nomad’s life
All I have left is
Reminder in my hand
This lousy glass insulator cap