Humanitarian Crisis

I worked late today
In the usual way
Then stood long for a bus
While ignoring the fuss
All the placards and song
Of a protesting throng

When the first one came full
Joined the back of the queue
‘Til I hopped on the second
No wiser, I reckoned
To pressure or purpose
That brought out the workforce

I sat in my headphones
Absorbing through eardrums
The tunes of a playlist
Unchanged through two ages
And stared through graffiti
At people beneath me

Not knowing, nor caring
What fate we were sharing
Familiar landscape blurred
Into the sounds I heard
Hopped off three stops early
Finished one journey

I trudged ‘cross the common
To see if I’d find one
More bus driver’s hubs
Standing still by the pubs
Sure enough, there I saw
Not just one, but some four

When one finally, late
Put his pedal to plate
He pulled up to the tavern
Waved me past his cabin
For NFC, broken
Would not zap my token

I settled inside
Chose a tune for my ride
But two stops, no further
We stopped in a lather
Five kids, come from school
With no change to fare-pool

Tried to board, barter, beg
But compassion was neg.
As commuters grew restless
One woman, well-dressed, stressed
Their selfishness loudly
“Eff off!” she yelled, proudly

Some gentleman, small
Added footage to gall
Thus the youths took offense
At this lack of good sense
And a row quickly rose
As his phone met his toes

While we waited, suspended
To see what might end it
Some ran for the next bus
Some added their voices
And called for policemen
To make them see reason

It took three more stops
And a call to the cops
But not one among us
Could hit on the obvious
Tempers grew heated
As workers felt cheated

Ashamed, I forgot
Or I simply did not
Check I had enough money
Available, on me
To throw them a bone
So we’d all make it home.


Tabloid Catechism

Spite and polish will make her shine brighter
The author can buff with insults and see how quickly
She loses her inferior interior, slickly she grows
In favour of a sickly exterior shell that glows
With borrowed pride in her rented hide she’ll ride
Surrounded by critics and dealers to feel her, peel her
Unseat her, to beat her and shape and defeat her
In poisonous rows of inelegant prose the photos
Nipping her waist and in ever more haste
To keep blowing her nose, and her manicured toes
In uncomfortable shoes, body-conned to abuse
Shamed with glamorous phrases, ungenerous phases
More strokes of the pen to keep her, steep her,
Drowning in ten shades of newsprint, our views print
The choice of the people, the lawyers, the troops
With the focus of every new interest group
The murkier water of sister and daughter
Whose under-age pictures proclaim they fall shorter
Their innocence sold for a penny a piece
To shift Sunday supplements, pay off police
With the politics slanted to left or to right
You can broker new peace or prepare for a fight
And consistency needn’t concern you this year
Your excuse is the public reflection of fear
There’s an honesty to it, this devilish deal
An emotive hard-pressing of Biblical zeal
We wrote it, stand by it, will bribe to keep quiet
Our right to the sale of page three and her diet
What’s Mystic and listed and sicker, more twisted
What’s darker and deeper than truth that’s insisted
We’ll publish it, dressed in the finest of rags
And polish with spite all protesters and slags