The Commuters

Our Ikea-padded cells
should guard us from self-harm –
but instead they fuck with us
in cubes of coupled calm

Each of us fitfully sleeps
in our over-familiar beds –
we pick at our clipped wings
feathering empty nests

We rise to expected alarms –
our daily rude refrain –
to stumble without consciouness –
to queue for time-warped trains

In cattle trucks we stand and sway –
our iprods poke our eyes –
blinding us from seeing
the pastures passed outside

London Bridge – we rise to screams
as the wheels rub on the track –
we shuffle from the shouldered stalls –
spewed out – we can’t turn back

The Wedding Guest

Two contrails cross over Croydon
as a childish whispered kiss
a wedding party walks the aisle
of this train to London Bridge

The bride is dressed all in black
carrying a bunch of flowers
and her rich perfume fills the train
as she necks a bottle of cider

The twenty minute reception
of small talk
of drunken laughs
of the booze flowing as water
to her lips and to her heart

 

 

Virgin England

‘Get permission from the ticket office
to travel on this train’
sums up this queue-fat England
of intransigence and new rules

Here staff cannot show emotions
or make their own on-the-hoof decisions

The green biro’d ticket was waved on
an hour later by a shrugging millennial

Class resides on trains and in politics
those two parallel English antiquities
which feed off each other
and equally upset the low users of both

The woman serving in the galley
of processed food did so with a smile

That was my only uplifting Virgin moment
.

The Sign on Southern Railway

There’s a Samaritan’s helpline advertised on the platform
hanging from a lamp post on the sturdiest of wires

I think about the last hours of that American comedian
I picture him considering the place he will meet death

and try to uncoil his quick mind
as if such powers are really mine

It has to be such a certain thing because doubt won’t kill you

only the best of preparations
such as a strong hanging point
will see you through

Did he then worry about being found
or is that selfishness not allowed?

Is there a real risk of commuters throwing themselves under trains?

I step back from the edge as the train to London Bridge
slices through the taught cord which now gives