Jason Abdelhadi

A snow-train on the night-tracks

An association game for the superlative ornamentation of useless travel time, against the temptations of productivity or entertainment.* There is a special sense of untimeliness that occurs when you are stopped in the midst of a journey. When you find yourself on a train or a bus traveling at night with frequent interruptions. But especially on intercity travel, in areas of blank forest or farmland, an externality in the form of landscape, sporadic lighting or weather play an especially strong part in the formation of poetic images. Boredom. The combination of the machine’s motion, a personal claustrophobic stillness, the “name” of a place and a view of the wide weatherbeaten world make for some particularly bizarre and insistent notions. As you pull up to different stations, you can associate each one with a spontaneous image or observation.

Toronto — A white heatmap on the tongue of an undialectical bookmark.

Guildwood — A work of the human imagination, recognized for what it was.

Oshawa — Reminiscences of a hand gesture slowed down to increase fear.**

Port Hope — An old brick ship from a dark corner, aiming for the weirdest planet.

Cobourg — A fish tank kept in a deep cave, where analysts keep their unfiltered and unfinished pets; a mysterious paperweight, simultaneously the exact same thing as a rhinoceros.

Trenton Junction—Outside in the now slowly amassing snow a triangular being waits for something that I am very interested in discovering. A silver pig in the black shadow. It seems it is sniffing a path of teeth left in the night by an anonymous esoteric philosopher, a disguised Jesuit who was a cancer to his order.

Belleville — One evil skulking around the window. In fact it might be the blank head of a mannikin. “1E”. It seems darker each time I look at it. A closet and a strange phallic object made of metal, gesturing rudely at the head.

Napanee — A long snow snake by a cabin, and a local moon pursing its lips. The brush are reciting a song they haven’t thought about in a long time, it just popped into their heads. A black window. A green wooden panel. Regular street lamps with meteorite ambitions.

Kingston — A flag opening onto a yawning strip, bound by snow. “The future is off”. I can hear through my sight a hiss. A man in black. Far off, a spear of lights. A cavalcade of odd wanderers. Dark orange eyeball and a seven samurai style banner for a battlefield, the far edge of which holds a fallen star; the only thing left in the night. Half a helmet. A red neon sign invokes “Nov*lis”.

Fallowfield — Prowling before a wall, bathed in red light, a giant rat, the size of a snowbank. My doppelgänger makes a gang sign. Five giant humanoids standing in a purple circle. The north star walks along, with a pompom. In the corner, a circus organ covered entirely with snow. There is an orange coffin. Inside, the pyrevamp who plays music hall tunes backwards for their satanic content.

Ottawa — A dog with a chain leash, walking itself away from the light. Cyclops hiding in a toolshed.

Train 54, car 4
November 19, 2018

*An excellent surrealist consideration of the topic was made by Mattias Forshage in the 2012 blog post “Bats and transit (variation about games)” available on the icecrawler/heelwalker blog:


** A week after this was written, General Motors announced their major manufacturing plant in Oshawa would be shutting down, triggering an immediate labour walk-off.