it could’ve been any other seat
in any other carriage
on any other line
but I didn’t know that when I sat down.

through underground grime
and blackened newspapers
came quickfire mental pictures
of the ends of long summer days
on the wasteland behind the old garage
of old Mr Smith, a silhouette shepherd
a father, at least to the fire
to which we floated like moths.

as the book in my lap lay open
so too lay the box of memories, strewn,
turning words into smoke and carrying them
up, into my nose as I breathed deep my childhood.

now, you’d say smoke is smoke
but smoke is never just smoke
smoke is wood or weed
or snuffed candles
or anything else gone out
or burned up
none of it without fire
and none of that without a spark
and who then lit the stars?
and which idiot sent them spinning off into space like that
for humans to wander under and wonder over
and shoot up their own little surrogate stars
off crackling autumn branches
and dry-wood pallets
and anything else going out
or burning up
like I guess, we all will
and one day there was no fire
to dance around and
Mr Smith didn’t come out to light the stars
and they built flats on the wasteland
and the next station is Archway
and I’m getting off like I’m waking up
from a dream I’m not ready to leave
but I guess what’s gone is gone
and the train is gone
and the smell is gone
and Mr Smith is gone 

and I’m...well, I’m still here.