Norma Kohout played tennis in her San Francisco years, served
as counselor for The San Francisco Boys Chorus, worked as a
secretary, and was a student at San Francisco State College. In
Modesto, she taught junior high school English and participated
in three teacher organizations.
In Sacramento, it's been poetry, poetry, poetry. She says
highlights include receiving the Chaparral Golden Pegasus Award
in 2001 and Chaparral’s Roadrunner Award in 2008.
She has been published in Senior Magazine, Tiger's Eye,
Rattlesnake Review, and Song of the San Joaquin, plus
various other Chaparral and Ina Coolbrith Society wins and
publications. Also, Norma co-facilitates a weekly senior poetry
group with Joyce Odam, and published a littlesnake broadside,
Out the Train Window, from
Rattlesnake Press, in 2006.
Norma Kohout Poems
HOW TO TELL WHERE YOU ARE
When you see to the east of the track
a small herd of snowy Charolais cattle
grazing in a green field,
and in the next pasture—
eight fine-limbed horses,
chestnut and roan, stepping lightly—
you know you’re just south of Merced.
When you see on both sides of the track
grape leaves in voluptuous layers of green
on miles of wire,
growing from thin stalks—like spindly legs
under a ruffly skirt—
you know you’re between Escalon and Stockton.
When you see a dark boneyard—
peach or almond ready for burning,
and backhoes opening trenches
in the old orchard
for conduits and sewer pipes—
you could be almost anywhere on the line.
AMTRAK IS IN CHARGE OF TIME
Time becomes a number flashing
on a black electronic board
for departures, trip duration, arrival.
Our watches, cell phones, laptops
will not affect the delays,
or pre-emptive freight trains or
men repairing track beds.
Above the platform
gulls soar with a beautiful symmetry,
their angular wings lifting and falling.
But inside, Amtrak is in charge of time.