The commute

And the girls in Boots
And the boys from Fitness First
Convene before the Clinique counter
Who knows what they say

From above its like a river
People flow into the station
A tidal wave of brown shoes,

Grey shoes, white shoes, black shoes

Every pair matching shoes

Trip, slip, tap.

Tickets at the ready
They follow lines they cannot see
Ebb, flow, flow like the tide
They bend around the ticket machine
Over the waterfall stairs
That lead to the toilets

They constant rhythm of a beeping gate
Ticket holders seep along the platform
At first coalescing but then,

The lines grow ragged and thin

The front of the train
The back of the train

In reverse on the platform

There is the faint smell of coffee
And clutched newspapers
Doors open

They swish, they shush

Commuters ooze inside
Each one gaming for that favourite spot
Their coveted seat

By the window

Not by the window.

Mythical non-existent leg space
Space for a bag

If the centre of the station is a stomach
These are the chambers for waste disposal

Its 6pm and its convulsing

People chewed up,
Churned out.
Allocated, randomly

However conscious it might seem

There’s a late platform change

A tidal surge
From one place to another
Like a lunch being heaved

From one bin to the next

Its peak hour

Its like the station has diarrhoea

No one stays
Everything goes straight through
Sometimes fast.

Sometimes slow

But everyone has a movement

All played to the soundtrack,
of a security announcement
Don’t leave your bags alone
Even if that means leaving your children behind

Although they don’t say that

We all know thats what they mean
They blow up bags not children
Make sure your children aren’t dressed as bags

All of us can recite it, that announcement,

But none of us have ever heard it

There are stairs and toilets
And side attractions that we never see
There’s an information desk somewhere

We are altogether

And yet all alone

Except for the couple kissing

We all look away

And then like a sick child

Denied the bathroom for too long

The station throws us out of every orifice

We plummet out of holes into the darkness

Headed for the sewers of suburbia

Before tomorrow

When like a recurring virus we infect the station floors again.

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The train

One bald man gets out of his seat
So another bald man can sit down.
They don’t speak to each other.
They don’t know each other.
The do know each other.
Its like a dance.

Every day.

That is his seat,
that is the other ones seat.
They wear similar suits in dark blue.
With a light blue shirt
And a medium blue tie and brown shoes.

I plunge myself into my seat, melting.

And what was he doing there anyway?
Half naked.
In a stripped down phone booth.
Leering at every woman,
As if each one should be grateful.
With his 90s hair.

Today of all days.
They are not grateful.
They just hurry past.
He leans on a strut that once held a pane of glass.
His best days are behind him.
His best days are behind the booth.

There is no air conditioning on this train.

He is playing a childs game
On ear phones that don’t work.
Colourful little animals jump small bridges.
Everyone can hear the arcade tinkle.
He does it deliberately.
Plays it loud.

Most days.

Plunging thumbs,
into a control panel.
It annoys everybody.
It’s a protest.
You are not allowed to watch porn on the train.

All around me the world of trains and men, I feel like a freak.

He holds his head high.
The wi-fi was a little slow this morning.
The trainers are glossy.
He really smashed that avocado
Into the whole grain toast.
A sheep in wolves clothing.

A bit yesterday.

With that beard.
More a toad resplendent in cloth.
Still a toad.
He catches himself in the window.
Looking good, looking good for a toad.

Still after all this time, I don’t belong on this train.

Portrait of a town: Her, she him.

 It will be like this forever now. He sees. She is on the train platform. She sees him on the platform. With her.

She stares straight ahead.

He is attentive to her.

Deciding where to stand is up to her, he knows that. Like so much now, it is all up to her. He pretends he is listening.

She does not see the pretence. She stares straight ahead as if she is not there.  

He mumbles agreement to her. This is the right place to stand. This is the spot. This is where they should stand. She is standing somewhere else. But not too far away. Maybe not far enough away he thinks.

Her. Flicks some unseen thing from her coat. Her beautiful expensive coat.  Snuggles herself into it, wraps herself in it. Wonders why he has not noticed? Now would be the perfect moment to drape his arm around her.

She can see her, just about.  She knows that she is the other woman. In a maroon coat, might as well be scarlet red she thinks. Her in camel, is anyone wearing camel this season?

She stares straight ahead, hoping the train will come around the bend before she cries.

They both have the same short blond hair. She didn’t know that. Although perhaps one of them is more recent than the other. She tries not to think about her. Her is messing with her coat again. She tries more valiantly not to think of him. Of hands, hair, of bodies intertwined in darkness.

He is attentive, listening, but he is also comparing their legs. She has thinner legs. He wonders if he made the right decision. He looks at the expensive watch on his hand. Of course it was the right decision, splitting the assets would have been financially disastrous. He tries to look interested in her conversation but he isn’t sure.

He still isn’t sure.

Her conversation is just noise in the background. What would she say, he wonders in the pale morning light.  He is trying hard to focus on her, on the words coming out of her mouth. There is something else on her coat now. He wants the train to come.

What is on her coat? Feigning a dirty coat, for attention, why doesn’t he notice. Is he listening? Every fibre of her body is willing the train to come. He is leaning in, but he is not focussed on her. Did she just turn her head? Is that what happened. There is an explosion in her head. Where is that train?

 He has to lean in because he must not be able to see where she is standing from here. This is a train station. Everyone must retain some semblance of dignity.

The wedding ring is hers. That is what counts. Her coat is better.  But that woman’s legs?

Dear god, where is the train.