St James’ Park


Underneath a black and spotted clutch of thirties ironwork,

trace-lit by fluorine, condensed to white in damp reflection,

backlit by books and a cinema release,

run the trains.

A rumble, a puff of doors, the echo of announcement.

Ninety seconds headway and time enough to sip a coffee,

gather gloves and shake the scarf, walk half-length and climb,

wheels bumping, tump, tump, tump.

A minute and a half to sluice and mop the station with electric whinings

and, for a breath, it is empty, bar him reflected on the wooden bench,



Behind a glass screen, channelled beyond the standing counter,

the coughs and chink of coins, and grey as a backdrop,

sharp, cold and funnelled through sixties concrete,

falls the rain.

A moment more, not yet mine, someone else lifts a hand.

The tea bag shows it cheap and strong, with splats across the chalk white saucer,

another toast and midweek bacon, with banter to the weekend

its warm in here in’t it, all that cookin 

he leans cross-legged, fingering the mobile

and beyond the January umbrellas push the slanting wind.