Wednesday, 13 April 2016

April Poems 2016/13

Seventeen Stops

The whine of an electric motor
and the sharp, iron smell of the rails
in the underground station.
A rat scurries along the rail, paws
in single file, tail held high and well away from the live.
Beneath a poster for the Money at the Tate,
a spot of yellow on sooted tracks
a dropped M&M, peanut style,
a prize to take home for the kids
all seven of them and the missus is pregnant again already.
He may have to venture to street level
for a cast-off Kentucky or starch fried McD's
but the display board says one minute
before the last train on the Northern line.
Time to duck to the sleepers.

A tube of wind blows litter from the tunnel
and the flashing snake of the Tube
screeches brakes to slow.
Stand clear of the doors.
One person gets out, the last pilgrim to Leicester Square
where every theatre runs the same show year after year
and only the food franchises change with the seasons.
Three get on to take their places
among the day's newspapers and ticket stubs.
Tinny music from ear bud headphones
and everyone staring at their phones
except for one lad drinking lager
and swearing at the Muslim girl three seats down
who hasn't made a sound.
Heaven is for whites only, he says,
and spits on the floor. The train slows, stops,
speeds up once more. Night sky replaces tunnel walls.
Seven more stations until High Barnet.

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