A text & a prompt: “Train Ride” by Ruth Stone

Read this poem, discuss, and write to a prompt.

1. Read the poem

“Train Ride” by Ruth Stone from In the Next Galaxy. © Copper Canyon Press, 2002. Poem text copied from The Writer’s Almanac

by Ruth Stone

All things come to an end;
small calves in Arkansas,
the bend of the muddy river.
Do all things come to an end?
No, they go on forever.
They go on forever, the swamp,
the vine-choked cypress, the oaks
rattling last year’s leaves,
the thump of the rails, the kite,
the still white stilted heron.
All things come to an end.
The red clay bank, the spread hawk,
the bodies riding this train,
the stalled truck, pale sunlight, the talk;
the talk goes on forever,
the wide dry field of geese,
a man stopped near his porch
to watch. Release, release;
between cold death and a fever,
send what you will, I will listen.
All things come to an end.
No, they go on forever.

2. Discuss the poem

Consider question such as:

  • What happens in the poem?
  • What is the mood?
  • Who is the narrator? Who is the “you”?
  • What is between cold death and a fever?
  • Discuss the duality of the poem.

3. Write to a prompt

Set your clock to 4 or 5 minutes, no more. Here is a prompt to try, but feel free to come up with a different one.

Write about things that go on.

4. Share

You can do this by yourself, but if you have the opportunity to share the experience with a friend, family member, colleague or anyone else, try to read to one another what you wrote. Do not preface your writing with apologies or descriptions (no “Sorry, this was rushed/incomplete/etc…”), and do not change it as you read. Read exactly the words on the page.

If you listen to a partner read, think about the language, mood, narrator, and other aspects of the written story. The plot is important, but so is what you can recognize in the writing itself.




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