For a few months now we have been presenting the poems of the "Rhyming Brakeman" Arnold Schnabel consecutively in the order in which they were first published in that estimable journal the Olney Times, but in view of our recent broadcast of the three-part series “The Testament of Joey Ryan” (also originally printed in the Olney Times), we are going to skip ahead a month or so and give you the following sonnet, which originally appeared August 24, 1963.
The reason we are temporarily breaking out of our chronological sequence is that the “lost boy” of this poem is none other than Joey Ryan himself, disappeared on that fateful Feast of the Assumption, August 15.
Obviously Arnold is still enjoying his mandated leave-of-absence (on half-pay) from the Reading Railroad, following his complete mental breakdown the previous winter.
At this point in his oeuvre, to say that a particular Arnold Schnabel poem is oddly disquieting would seem redundant, and so we simply give you, without further preamble (and with the continuing indulgence of the Arnold Schnabel Society):
The Lost Boy
Mounting the promenade this evening, by
Frank’s Playland to walk down to that strand
I think of as my own private beach, I
Saw a rabble by the hotdog stand
All staring at the sea and acting weird.
I asked a man what was up. He said,
“Some kid got drowned, he just plain disappeared.
That’s his mom, with the hat on her head,
And that’s his dad, down by the lifeguard stand.”
Mother and father gazed out to sea,
Attached each to the other by a hand.
A cop came up and said, “Nothing to see.”
I moved along, with my smokes and my towel,
And from the beach I heard a woman howl.
(For other Arnold Schnabel poems, and for selections from his memoir Railroad Train to Heaven, please see the right hand column of this page.)