150 years of working on London Underground

Submitted by Matthew on 30 January, 2013 - 11:12

Traverse these airless edges.

London Underground,

5am to final lamp.

A litany of tunnels punched out memory of light.

Station upon station, footfall crumbled.

Waterloo: Sainsbury’s.

Dance wire, via headwall and auto-phone.

Replicated ghosts.

Fire extinguishers idle and fat with chemical entropy.

Sidling at platform precipice,

Heart at fingers

Trains smooth and wreathed in souls.

Swiss Cottage: Spar, Iceland & Sainsbury’s.

Detritus: lives pared like gossamer bark.

Someone says: ‘They brought her legs back in a separate bag.’

Brake dust, myriad lines.

Faith fallen in suicide pit.

Curves drenched in soot, and saved blood.

Oxford Circus: Sainsbury’s, Waitrose & Tesco Metro.

These night-days, gate-line scenarios squeal grey,

Like pigeons strutting canopies at St James’ Park,

And someone says a hundred years ago:

‘Did you ever notice the apostrophe is missing?’

Something misplaced. He mutters:

‘I left it somewhere between Notting Hill and Camden Town.’

St James’s Park: Sainsbury’s.

A special Lambeth Walk, platform 1.

Bakerloo, curvy wicked for those with inclinations

And no stomach for narrow treachery,

Telephones behind human thicket,

Wall of heartbeats parched in tweed.

Why do they keep the help in gut squeeze terror?

Elephant and Castle: Tesco Metro.

At Paddington, sink to rat corridors crooked as Fagin

Beneath pipes clothed in Victorian vest,

Door pressed ajar.

Smothered in mess room.

Kettle steam,

Tupperware pops, fresh bread and lettuce breathe until.

A sigh and a dive for soft, white sleep.

Paddington Main: Marks & Spencers & Waitrose.

An echo battered by discourse from LU veteran of only 28.

Tracks riven in a face.

Predict a point failure.

Onward, stretched down to Wembley

Baker Street.

On and on.

Shift. Sing at iron vaulting, lit by brick.

Sand and sky. Edwardian supper.


Marylebone: Costcutter & Waitrose.

Liverpool Street: Yellow, red and iron respectively.

As if it matters.


Silver cages.

Humming stairs,

Soft, pockets the end of day

Torn poster’s curling orbit ceased.

She calls: ‘The station is closed.’

He doesn’t turn.

We eat black porridge on the London Underground.

Strand Station: Clare Market & Covent Garden.

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