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I do love a dictionary/glossary definition and this is from Wikipedia’s Glossary of United Kingdom railway terms

Chord: A curve connecting two otherwise-unconnected rail lines that lie at tangents to that curve (Usually both lines are straight, one being at a higher level than the other.)

I commented on a friend’s post which was asking for recommendations for poetry/prose evoking clear imagery (I suggested Ted’s Hughes’ Thought Fox) and another mutual friend recommended Lydia Davis, coincidentally a train reference:

On the Train by Lydia Davis

We are united, he and I, though strangers, against the two women in front of us talking so steadily and audibly across the aisle to each other. Bad manners. Later in the journey I look over at him (across the aisle) and he is picking his nose. As for me, I am dripping tomato from my sandwich on to my newspaper. Bad habits. I would not report this if I were the one picking my nose. I look again and he is still at it. As for the women, they are now sitting together side by side and quietly reading, clean and tidy, one a magazine, one a book. Blameless.

Obviously I shared this with Vanessa and begin to research.

Another train reference:

Lydia Davis – The Magic of the Train

We can see by the way they look from behind, as we watch them walk away from us down the train car, past the open doors of the toilets, through the sliding doors at the end, into some other part of the train, we can tell by the backs of them, these two young women, in their tight black jeans, their platform heels, their tight sweaters and jean jackets in fashionable layers, their ample loose long black hair, the way they stride along, that they’re in their late teens or more likely their early twenties. But when they come back the other way towards up, after a little while, from their excursion through the train, to some strange and magical part of it up ahead, when they come back, still striding along, we can now see their faces, pale, haggard, with violet shadows under their eyes, odd moles here and there, laugh lines, frown lines, sagging cheeks, though they are smiling a little, gently, and we see that in the meantime, under the magical effect of the train, they have aged twenty years.

Here’s an excerpt of her discussing ‘In the Train Station’ with a reading

And an interview with Dan Gunn who cites Proust “There is a passage in Proust’s novel that I’ve always enjoyed and admired; whenever I re-read it, I’m made to think of your work. The narrator has boarded the train for Balbec (in Noms de pays: le pays / Place-Names: The Place), and because he is so anxious he has been given some alcohol to soothe his nerves. This causes him to experience the journey through the perception of one who is tipsy for the first time. He writes, summarizing this experience but summarizing also what he will learn from the artist Elstir and from Impressionism more generally when he reaches Balbec, that he has had to learn to present events “in the order of our perception of them, instead of first explaining them in relation to their several causes.” I find that this recommendation seems to have been followed in a lot of your work.

Lydia responds: “Yes, I do like to confront an object, an experience, directly and immediately, often accepting my first impression, as in your examples above, and allowing that to remain the explanation or statement about the thing, rather than labeling that impression, explaining it away, rejecting it. The impression itself has a certain validity, even if it isn’t “true.” It also has a certain naive purity—unclouded by prior knowledge or subsequent reasoning. I don’t mind if it is somewhat absurd—I like to be able to look at things in a different way.”

This really struck a chord with us and Vanessa wrote:

I love poetry

Especially when,

It’s clear, interesting, unambiguous

Doesn’t waste words on describing an arsehole

He said

She said

They were as pasty and dry as 2-day old bread

You see?

That’s why some don’t engage it can be exhausting

Trawling through the euphemisms

Not easy to engage

A mind filled up with too much reality


I love poetry It gives form

To feelings – and shit

Expressions, decisions, rejections

Turmoil and passion

I want a narrative

That doesn’t need a degree to understand

Though I’m not short of them


I love poetry, that

Isn’t full of exclusive language

Sending me around the spirals, of

The authors self-aggrandisement

Literary loquacious patronisation


I love poetry, that

Doesn’t give me a brain ache

Like the florid shit that pretends to be interesting


I love poetry, that gets to the point I think I’ve made mine.

Vanessa Haley