69 Psaltery & Lyre: Theric Jepson, “Amtrak to SAC”


Amtrak to SAC

I find the rotting piers of Richmond and Pinole
as romantic as the photos of wasted Detroit
and as nostalgic as the nature-ruined barns and fences of my Idaho boyhood.

I suppose it should make me ache with mortality,
the sight of wormy wood that, in its senility,
has outlived the men who built them, their children,
their children.

We pass an old brick C&H Sugar factory with half its windows gone,
the factory still in use.

The next pier is blackened by once living flames.

Then a rusted mount of steampunk in the brackish waters.

So many broken teeth reaching from the brackish shallows.

Walk out and die.

Under what the sig alerts call CARQ BRIDGE
I see a largish ship—a working man’s ship—a research vessel?—
with a Cal Golden Bear immaculately painted on what looks,
to a land lubber like me,
like a smokestack,
but is not.

Sailboats, an industrial bridge, wind turbines peeking underneath from far far away—

The train blares at two uniformed POs wading the seeded grass at the side of the tracks looking for


Theric Jepson is a Mormon arts gadfly. His own Mormon work appears in all the regular spots (Irreantum, Sunstone, Dialogue) and a few unexpected ones (eg, SF Weekly), and he has published others’ work in volumes such as The Fob Bible, Fire in the Pasture, and Monsters & Mormons. Information on his novel Byuck and other publications, Mormon or not, can be found at thmazing.com

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