Sunday, September 5, 2010


Train Rides

On the Southern Line, by
Middlemore, I'm aware
how florid, irrepressible
graffiti is here:
what a fanfare!!

Aha: Papatoetoe.
Love the way that name
suggests dancing.
Puhinui just jiggles
lacking the requisite
fluid limbs.

A volcanic hill has been excised.
Its nemesis evident: a crater
without power or potential, earth
movers now scavenging for crumbs.
The threat of unpredictable activity
surgically removed like a tumour.

Look at those back yards: so bare!
Outside the fences, wild growth
looking for places to colonise.

The night train home
begins with a group of loud girls.
One of them keeps herself separate
jumps off the train at stations
jumps back on just in time.
One wears dark glasses
and wishes to be kissed.
Another takes photos with her
cell phone. The fifth makes sure
everyone stays together, they're
in this together, they're hunting
or perhaps gathering
Saturday night's harvest
for the hungry.

There are boys who pretend
control: egg the girls on
then ignore them.
When the Guard tells the girls
not to jump off and on at stations
they acquiesce, they don't
back chat or threaten.
I notice I think they would, elsewhere.

A young man boards
and immediately starts
talking to the girl
who keeps herself separate
based on familiarity
at odds with her discomfort.

At Glen Innes, a burly man
joins us, parks his bicycle
against a seat, plucks
a ukelele from a backpack
and begins strumming.
He wears a green shirt
with orange stripes, and the word
Hurricanes across the back.
He teases the girls who won't dance
to his tune, and when he stops
after two pieces, we - the whole
carriage - clap. He leaps up to bow.
I notice his arms festooned with tattoos.

A couple with a curly-haired son
get on, sit in front of me, unaware
they're about to be included
on our musician's itinerary.
This time there are words,
the tunes jaunty, sentimental.
Behind his glasses, the boy's eyes
slide sideways at mother, who
determinedly studies her City map.
The boy's cupid lips curve upward.

The musician, that
happy man, rounds off his repertoire
just as we enter Britomart, and
smartly exits with bicycle, without
a backward glance. I watch him lift
the bike and ride the escalator,
watch his rugby-player tattooed
and bare legs walk him out fast.
I would like to thank the Guard
for the concert, but he has gone.


  1. Reading this Jen I was rigjt with you on the journey....very evocative. You're in fine form!

  2. Mary, thanks for commenting. I'm tres heartened. Jay