Two cigarettes

17:23

Fingers shaking, she fumbles to light it
Lips quivering, cornflower eyes over-large
Underlined, ringed in runny mascara
Bronzer and orange paint

Long blonde hair fashionably streaked
Hanging down like a dingy waterfall
She clamps her clutch beside her
With a slender elbow, shivers

At unseasonal weather in a short skirt
Trying not to cry, this nymph
Ankles wobble on the too-high heels
Waiting for a bus in the rain

Sucking in gasping lungfuls
She smokes her sadness
Twisting suffering to submission
In a single cigarette

18:02

His rumbling growl is subsiding now
The stream of curse words unbroken
Since he staggered down the aisle
Pushing past each passenger

Heading for the back bench
Of the almost empty upper deck
Something inside him is angry
It cannot keep still or quiet

A familiar double click precedes
The billowing clouds of calm
He thunks a window shut
Clad in a cloak of smoke

That may obscure the world
Of see-through stickers
With their pious proclamation
‘No Smoking’, red ring, slash

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A Marriage of Convenience

The unwilling coexistence of passengers.
Introduced with a nod, the proposal made
By the raising of an eyebrow;
The automatic courtesy shrug
Finalizing a contract of mutual misery
For several hundred miles to come.
A contract to ignore the insupportable,
With the unwritten clauses
Detailing petty irritations, annoying personal habits
And unwelcome elbows
Insinuating their way into the afternoon
As the fields and houses flash by.
A blanket of humanity, settled, staid.
Sliced-through by the rattling train
Travelling at breakneck speed.