The Hinge

Silver whistles slept
trains had abandoned
that brittle underlife.
In the empty waft of untapped electricity
he was somewhere up the way
& I
in my plastic-bucket-blue uniform
was afraid.

The emergency phones had been taken off the hook –
a systemic dysfunction, nerves jacked clacky.
over weeks. He or them?

Again that night, 3am, somewhere in the underground
near my (lost my) Control Room.
Therapeutic cigarettes, cooling coffee.
I was off, to effect an arrest.

There was reason to fear –
the Lithium Lithuanian
who sat in silence & waited for no train
until the roar-time began.
Also “met” George on the platform…
the hairless armless psychopath giant
who wore a vast floral dress so he could
piss & shit unaided.
Sly old Peter too,
who loved his god………………………………….
& any little children left unsheltered.………………………………….
These brittle islands
above the flow of scratchy girl-less gangs
with all the hate that Saturday
has thrown up all
over their denims.

Rail stations swim in edgy, dirty data
that mere passengers fail to notice.
Inhumed, through the throat of night,
high tide of void
jetsam ribs of fluorescent illumination
so my feet
in the dustdaisies
as rats commuted through vacancy
hung out on a city line.

Smell of cooked asbestos, doused
under compacted seashell. Life is a rumour.
The doppler rose of passing trains & tripped signals, this
is the rationed blood of these desiccated, invert worms.
Those tunnels need passage,
stainless steel is the lubricant.
Absence makes each surface
scabbed & achy. Rails flex – bereft, shackled.

There are the contrails, revenants of conversation.
People throw them out &
they are trapped beneath ground.
Unfilled chambers mumble until dawn;
their imposed dreams are ringtones,
unfinished shards of work, break-ups,
trick-savage plots or fashion.
I was always quiet as I wandered there.
We who walk the vacancy
don’t dare feed
this sullen cacophony.
Speech should be collected
as soon as it’s spent –
like a confetti parade
tailed by streetsweepers.
Tinctured air,
I was infected & healed in stasis.

Ozone frisson. Movement up ahead –
be nothing…………………….my torch (a weapon)
made its own burrow
at the end of which one figure
in aimless twist, the shaky wrist of this contact.

We idly resisted
the hungry grunt of drains,
dual foci
two luminous flares of flesh.

No weather here
light is obliged to huddle.
There is water though –
forgotten fonts consecrate the narrow biology
that never eats sunshine.

Cabling fretted
in the pancake of stale air.
Hives of dark swarm the distance.
To approach a man like this –
flensed eyes flensed fingers flensed feet in flipflops –
this rusted sphere of timetables.

He was what they called a NFP1,
owned nothing (I take even this story as my own)
my “arrest” (simple as shunter gloves), think
I said five words,
barely registered in the dreary noise of his untreated mind.
He is caught. I am caught. Our roles
will not stretch. Power turns tale &
intelligence is no salve.

Beneath the rooves of cloud, three layers of time
a cellophane of night & our practice being
what we’re called. No choice
(the usual excuse).
He was put
down on a stalwart vinyl chair at the security office,
a bent & filthy hope. ……………The patrolmen
smashed his head
into a matching grey desk.

One of them, blocky blond & aerated with action
asked if I wanted a go
I was strong enough to decline,
starling twitch,
weak enough not to intervene.
I used my excuses frantically –
the hour (still in concrete catheters, the veins of night)…
there was no rehearsal.

All our days are numbered
moral failure …………………impotent vicinities.
Rills of snot,
NFP leaked scared & crying –
the patrolmen thought they had a simple solution,
No point laying charges with fuckin’ NFPs
YOU will never (bash)
come to Central

Another moment caromed past,
into the linger of weight
like stone above air, late shift lives on lines.
Still or in flail,
our culpable hands.


  1. no fixed place of abode – homeless