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John Van der Kiste

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August 4th to Paddington
by John Van der Kiste

Sunday, May 26, 2002

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This morning’s tabloid lies,
Discarded, crumpled,
Thumbed at the horoscope page
With ribald laughter.

Two seats away, the man in uniform
Lights a languid cigarette –
“Tickets, please – ta.”

Faces, once impassive,
Flicker into action for a minute;
Beside the window, the man in a suit
Closes his book without expression
And looks outside.

Beyond the empty landscapes of industry –
Lorries, purpose-built, all the same –
In vain, he looks to the sky
For a break in the symmetry – cloud-searching –
But goes instead to the coffee stains on the floor.

Voices down the carriage fade away…

And wheels thunder on…roll on…roll on…

Written in the autumn of 1978 about a train journey from Devon to London


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