Train to Nefasit

nefasitNefasit, Eritrea

Riding Acela to Boston
Connecticut towns roll by
coffee and church steeples
a successful man in coat and tie

recalling when three and twenty
with no awareness I was blessed
I hopped the train to Shegareni
on my way to Nefasit.

Wheezing ancient mallets
pulling freight cars to the sky
I took the train to Nefasit
high Summer of ‘65

Riding the rails to Ghinda
where villages crawl out of the sand
or rest, perched on rocky mountain crags
coughing and wheezing at dawn.

A mosque, a church, a goatherd
women carrying sticks
a man, a camel, a little boy
scraping for sustenance.

Women delousing children
men squatting along the road
halal butchered beef and goat
hanging from rusty hooks

‘Twas on that ancient mallet
that I learned about the world
how much of it was not like mine
for most the stars do not align.

Today I ride the Amtak
Silver Star, Miami bound
while in memory drums a clatter
the railroad of my youth.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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7 Responses to Train to Nefasit

  1. beetleypete says:

    A nice memory of your younger days Frank, and very well expressed in poetry too.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. sojourner says:

    I had to go to a map to find Eritrea! My geographical awareness is in decline, I’m afraid!

    You have lived life, Frank, that is for certain!


    • toritto says:

      Sojourner – In my early 20’s I spent several years in Eritrea and traveled a good portion of East Africa and Ethiopia. During my lifetime I have traveled / worked in England, southern Europe, the mid-east, the sub-continent, China and a good chunk of the far east and spent time in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. I have never visited northern Europe, Russia or Japan – to my regret.




      • sojourner says:

        Frank, you should never use the word regret. But you know that, don’t you!

        This, of course, is one reason why you are so knowledgeable. Being a musician, I have performed in all but eleven states, and I have toured/performed in Germany, Switzerland and the South of France: Heidelberg, Mosbach, Montreux and Nice. And I regret that I didn’t see more of the world. But I’m thankful for what I have been given!

        It’s a shame that young Americans, for the most part, spend their entire lives in a very narrow area of the world; some never leave the city they were born in.

        The richest experiences I had in my life, were during these times in Europe and traveling around the country.

        Thanks for bringing this to mind, Frank!



  3. jfwknifton says:

    How many rail journeys of my youth I would love to repeat. Especially the steam train ones.


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