To Wait in Waiting

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I question if such comfort of belonging actually exists and at what point the visibility of certain bodies obscures others. How much can we trust our perception and senses?

– Bo Luengsuraswat (from a poetics statement in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics)

I set out on Wednesday evening from Houston on the Amtrak to Tucson. To go to the Trans & Genderqueer Poetry Symposium. I’m taking the train because I wanted to see how Houston was connected to San Antonio and Marfa and El Paso and Tucson by this nineteenth century technology. And because it was about $300 less than the cheapest airline ticket.

And because I wanted to arrive slowly. Feel the land between, not just the destinations.

The track reminds me of Old Texas routes. The Sugarland Imperial Sugar plant looms above the rail. The packages of sugar and bales of cotton would be loaded directly onto the train. The subdivisions march off to the horizon.

Never seen a Texas sunset on the train before.

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It requires a kind of discipline to wait in waiting of what one waits for.

– Dawn Lundy Martin in Discipline

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The train…threatened the wealthy’s sense of place and power: ‘What the common people welcomed as a democratic advance, individuals of more privileged position greeted with a snort.’ Indeed, the Duke of Wellington expressed disapproval of railroads in 1855, saying, ‘They only encourage common people to move around needlessly.

– Katie Alvord (plucked from a blog post by C.S. Giscombe)

Where I am, the coach-class section of the train, is surprisingly Greyhoundish. A wide array of people. A lot of working-class people. Mainly people of color. And yet an incongruous commitment to old-school gentility. Repeated announcements for everyone with 7:00pm reservations to proceed to the dining car. Then 7:30pm reservations. It’s odd. They announce on the loudspeaker that meals range from $16 – $27 as if to scare off those who might think they could eat there. And they repeatedly remind passengers that only those with reservations would be accepted into the dining car.

Apparently no need for reservations for breakfast.

There is no Wifi on the train. Which is quite a relief.

Few things are better, as an antidote to some damp, drizzly January in my soul, than settling into an Amtrak coach seat in the company of my fellow undesirables. 

– C.S. Giscombe on the same aforementioned blog post

The sun has set. Darkness encroaches on the miles and miles of fields. Texas is suddenly vast and wind-swept and strange.

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What is falsified if one tips over into coherence?

– Dawn Lundy Martin from “The I Alongside the I: A Poetics of Indeterminacy” in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics

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Heading to this anthology. The first of Trans and Genderqueer poetry. A wild naming, an attempt to call a community into being. A wobbly instantiation of otherness. A reading to be read on the train passing through desert. A planted orchard of irrigated trees in the midst of sand, cacti and mezquite.

A book that will now become an experience, a “symposium,” a gathering in.

Next post from the Symposium.



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