Feathered Misfortune

What came first, the bird, or the egg?
Well, I spotted the dead pigeon on Monday night
As I was walking down the embankment
Trying not to breathe too many fumes
Still shivering from an over-chilled office
And shocked at the sight of mangled grey feathers,
A broken neck and damaged wings
I wondered if it had been hit by a vehicle
Or disorientated, had flown beak-first
Into a mirrored tower block
Before plummeting to the pavement below.
I had no answers. Nor did anyone seem
Too interested in the fate
Of an earthbound, flying sky-rat.
I walked home, pondering
The funeral rites of a feathered pest.
The next day, passing the other way
I saw it was still there.
Must have been missed by the road sweepers
Or deliberately ignored as someone else’s problem.
That evening, Tuesday after work
I felt sure someone would have mentioned it
And had the bird disposed of
But no.
Nudged off the pavement into the gutter
At the side of the road
Still a crumpled heap. Grey feathers dirty
From the road dust and oil residue.
I walked on.
By Wednesday evening, the bird was gone.
This morning, I took a different route to work
Staying on the bus to the museum
Then walking the few blocks North to the river.
As I passed under a bridge, I saw an egg
Shell cracked, yolk scattered on the ground
Dirty down feathers floating
While trains rattled above, shaking the shadows
A lone pigeon fluttered overhead
As if mourning their loss.

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Sepsis

Who are these shadows?
The thundering train
Whose rattlings roar
Through my pages again.

Whence came the ladies
In bombazine skirts
To tut at my bedside
And shush when it hurts?

Why must I see them
When others do not?
When fever starts soaring
My visitors flock

All measure of ‘ill’
May be summed in a word:
Delirium –
Visions.  Increasing.  Absurd.

 

Unwelcome

Faces crease in concentration
Making efforts to ignore
Insistent toddler at the station
Tantrum thrown beside the door

Tired workers heading homeward
All but desperate for peace
Nervous mother still a coward
Fearing offspring’s full release

Cries that echo round the carriage
Painful stares at stalemate scowl
The product of a broken marriage
Childhood monster’s awful howl

Pacifist attempts a token
Of what discipline we lack
Silent look conveys unspoken
‘Madam take your vile kid back’

Children borne but rarely welcome
Oft ignored with quiet bribes
Entering a world that needs them
Yet can’t stomach little lives

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.

A breathing space while waiting

I take a breath, to clear my head
My stomach sings a hungry tune
My eyes are tired, my legs like lead
Freezing here beneath the moon.
I wish I could awake my mind
Some beauty I should love to find,
But closed-up shops
And ticking clocks
Are all the night will offer me.

For lack of a connection

When John went to Euston with Rita
(As from her train, he’d sworn to meet her)
He found it quite hard to tell from the card
Which platform from which he should greet her.
So John asked a guard or a porter
How he could find out where he ought-a
Be meeting his pal, as it wasn’t long now
And her temper was fast growing shorter.
To John’s great dismay though, this tactic
Backfired almost like elastic
He was sent to the end far away from his friend,
And missed her, which made her quite irate really.

The low down dirty old Underground blues

Why do we at break of day
Brace ourselves to plow the fray?
Surely Britons ain’t forgot
That queueing is our national sport?

Daily, though, I feel the thrill
Of elbows meeting ribs until
Inside and out, I’m black and blue
And panting and perspiring too.

There must be a better way
For me to get to work today,
But tube is quicker, you retort
We like to keep our journeys short!

Yet overcrowding and delays
Especially on ‘weather’ days
Are making this commuter frown
Each time she travels into town.

A comedy of manners

Descending t’ward the depths of what
In London passes for transport,
Oft do I ignore the thrust
Of passengers, who, in their lust
To reach their desks and start each day
Do trample others ‘midst the fray.

Once upon a youthful day
I, purposeful, would elbow through
But lately I step out the way
To give more room to those who do.
And easing, thus, their passage by
This courtesy, I rarely spy
A shifting glance, infrequent too, of
Gratitude for what I do.