Why I Don’t Like Trains

I don’t like trains –

People get on who never get off again

They have given me flowerless distances and windows smashed with rain

Offered me stations as big as cathedrals where no one spoke

And no one sang

Yet when I was a child I loved the engines for their smoke.


Once they offered me soldiers

On country platforms looking for someone’s

Obscene lost-luggage bomb and the rat-squeak of military headphones

And when the food and drink was gone only the children spoke

And no one sang

Though it wouldn’t have hurt for someone to sing or crack a bad joke.


Once I tried for love

Of a fumbling sort, awkward and desperate

In the sway and buck between carriages and the silly hurt of all of it

The sort of incident that neither spoke

Of and no one sang

Or scribed a poem about; best passed off to the curious as a joke.


Those who like trains

And they are many, have never heard

The longing in the shunting wheels and are fortunate to be spared

The secret knowledge the carriage spoke

And the brakes sang –

There is nothing human in it. Yet once I loved the engines for their smoke.