• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 08
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Down the Tubes

Mind the gap, she says but we can see no gap to mind
because we’re kept in the dark, but we know damn well
there is a gap, all right.

Stand clear of the doors, he says
but empty bellies are always going to be impelled
towards opening doors
but here there are no doors.

Please remember to keep all your belongings and luggage
with you at all times, they announce
but we have nothing to keep, only what we stand up in
or, let’s be honest, what we bend over backwards
to stand up in and, before you ask, this dangling bag
is empty, always empty.

Please report any unattended articles to a member of staff,
she warns
but ticking backpacks are everywhere and uniforms
are nowhere so we must take our chances.
We know that. We all know that.

Pickpockets operate at this station;
please keep your belongings safe, he advises
but we have no belongings to pocket, no wallets to pick
and, let us remind you, this sac à main est toujours vide.

Busking and begging are illegal;
please do not encourage them, he decrees,
as if they are pests to bat away
but where else can they play, get paid, be heard?


Down the Tubes

Please stand to the right when using the escalators, she says
and we laugh and say – You gotta be joking, right?
because we are never on the right, never in the right.
We’ll stay on the left, thanks all the same.

And incidentally there are no escalators, no quick trips,
no accelerated promotion, no swift rise to the top, for us.

Due to an earlier incident delays may be experienced;
please take the first available train and change as necessary,
he orders but there are always ‘incidents’
and we are always obliged to change,
for change is always with us, they say
and the speed of change will only go on accelerating, the say.

This train will be held for a short period;
please accept our apologies for the delay, they say
but there is no train; there never was any train
to take us anywhere. We’re stuck here.

Services at this station are suspended at present;
please use alternative routes, she tells us
and we bend to their will again,
stagger backwards again,
get nowhere again.