Poems from the train


Long blue and yellow thread snakes its way into the city.

Twisting distant train. It swallowed five hundred life stories this morning.

Now, softly freewheeling, humming downhill.

Round a gentle bend with satisfied rackety rhythm on sharp grey gravel. Winding downhill to the city it comes

to desks and telephones, heart attacks and lunch breaks.

Blind train.

Blind snake

guided by inevitable rails.



Out under the deep blue morning

stalks silence sinister; his last stand in widening skies

fades, aquiline.


The escalator trundles

top to bottom folding on itself and reappears to slide

from top to bottom under London.


Grey flat low-lying London looks without seeing –

generates its seething with the light weary morning.


Electric flashes in the sky at dawn

cover the purple with terrifying energy and sizzle a fanfare

for a sleek and silver blackly slipping train.



This evening I set the local reservoir on fire.

It flared behind me from a cigarette I’d thrown away.

I did it in a dinner jacket to allay suspicion.


This evening I watched a squadron of flying ducks cross the moon,

their necks extended to sear the cutting wind. They passed

the moon like clouds adrift with purpose.


This evening I watched a gathering

of blustery trees toss their protest at human forms

that flitted at their captive roots.


This evening I wished for death and life beyond. I faltered

in my footsteps, stood and waited while a diesel train went by

alight with a score of windows with a figure looking out.


I waited in the East-blue steel sky amid a razor gale, my hair

snatched off my scalp with frozen blasts, and wondered how

the blistering earth could bear this evening. It was a tour of majesty

to watch protrusions from this planet withstand this evening.



Well, there it is, sticking up out of the ground: part of a wall.

It didn’t look so special when there was more of it –

before the bulldozers moved in – when Mrs. Pendleton was living here

after her son went off to new Zealand taking everything she had.

Her front door looked out across the fields instead of whatever that is –

(offices or something I suppose – to do with local government).

Mrs. P’s place was put up in the middle eighteen-hundreds; the moss

was a later addition. I don’t know why I should be sentimental –

none of this means anything to me – except that when you’ve lived

inside four walls they must contain your ghost.

And when the demolition people come along, they let it out.



Tear a tight veil from my eyes. Move in.

Morning makes a new thing out of an old body.

Judgment that was twisted makes light thinking.


I take note of what you say old chap. Move in.

Make me measure your emotions

or let me sleep.


Look a lousy look at leering lechers. Move in.

Or get that bum out of my face

so I can do the crossword.



Your attitude

is an argument

you haven’t lost.



If it pleases you

to think

you can think freely,

you’re free to think so.



Looking down the line,

rails shine

in the sunlight.


Meeting at the line

where the sky

meets the snow-line.


Down the line

comes happiness

towards me.


Thinking of the time

when the line stretched

away before me.



Some nights the stillness screams and disturbs

the fear of darkness that unfolds from sightless hollows.

Shapeless areas as black as forever come to life

unseen but only felt.

Under the stars square concrete – splashed the opposite

of dark, not white – stands guard along the street.

Perched on the outermost crust of a frantic ball,

the city looks secure.

But from the cool hard road forever upward

starts the nothingness. Between the upturned face

and the powdering of stars is nothing.

Always will be, always was.

To protect us from infinity.



In a while I’ll put myself to bed and think

about the world I’ve left behind

to shut out rush and hurry; make a lump

of blankets, breathing deep

and nasally commit myself to sleep.


And while I’m snoring, someone, somewhere else

will curse the raucous jangle of his clock

and stretch a heavy limb; drag deeply wrinkled body

from his bed and wish

that something functioned in his head.


But which of us is happier I wonder. While I

must force myself to close my mind our friend

is slowly waking… and realising how much

he loves his rest, while I’m still wishing

I were up and dressed.