October in the Railroad Earth

Barry Dredze
3 min readOct 10, 2022
Kalamazoo RIver (Photo by the author)

Creaky supply lines. Border crises. Woke mobs and cancel culture coffins. Inflation. Our last elections, maybe….

“…end of land sadness end of the world gladness all you San Franciscos will have to fall eventually and burn again.”

Stealing titles from Jack Kerouac now, my creativity is frayed and in desperate need of a stitch. The private written record of my own journaling calls me out on it.

I write better with at least a half a tank of passion. But my passions lately have been trampled underfoot. Opportunities for anything like joy or inspiration are ground into the earth under a rolling pile-on of aging pets, ailing or dying family and friends, fascism in fashion, rampant apathy and another looming Midwestern winter.

No longer a young man, I have been well aware for a fair amount of time by now that my strongest and most productive days are likely behind me. But this has not been a revelation with any real drama or regret. I have been lucky enough to have built a satisfactory record of accomplishment, I enjoy the companionship of what is left of an honorable circle of family and friends, a deep love between my wife and I remains strong within a genuinely happy home, and our finances may even be adequate enough to run out the clock.

But, at this point in the long view, the collective weight of our civilization has left the natural world in a terrible state. All the reducing, reusing and recycling have done little to reverse the rise of sea levels, extinctions of species, wildfires, or the unsustainability of our ways of life. Instead, our populations are scared to death of all the wrong things: immigrants, minorities, public services, academic inquiry, gender fluidity, renewable sources of energy. Namely, all those things that may help us reach some understanding of ourselves and each other and the limitations of our conceits.

October, of course, contains the holidays of Columbus Day and Halloween. One marks the date that Christopher Columbus first landed on a Carribean island that…



Barry Dredze

Just another mortal, tweaking my cognitive map on the fly.