August 2, 2004

Night bus

This is the Night Bus crossing the boroughs,
Carrying the drunken office worker,
Leaving Notting Hill, passing Marble Arch,
Selfridges corner, Bond Street and more.
Pulling up sharply, bell not rung in time:
The driver’s uncaring, he’s running to time.
Past sale display and gaudy hoarding
Trundling onward over the litter,
Rumbling noisily as she passes
Silent scores of homeless persons.
They turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bus stops at her yellow signage.
Waved hands cannot turn her course;
She lumbers on, not opening doors.
In the flats she passes no one wakes,
But a drunk on the corner gently shakes.
Dawn freshens, the night almost gone.
Down towards Kings Cross she descends
Towards the Thameslink, turning to head up York Way,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the gas holders
Lit against the dark sky like gigantic chessmen.
A garage waits for her:
In the back seat, beside the greasy window
I long for sleep.
Yawning I stare at Tufnell Park
Tiredness too much to respond and be coy,
Receiving mumbled invitations
To inspect his cock or indulge in relations,
and myriad other supplications
Audacious lover’s declarations
And yes, he nearly wears through my patience,
Babbling inanity, nothing substantial
Losing his interest when he can’t engage me.
Back to my book, I stare at the margin,
Letters dance on the pages like ants,
Leaving their comprehension to chance,
Irritated, I place the book back in my bag
Rubbing my eyes to more clearly see
Rushing past lights of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The cheesy, the classy, the boring, the broken,
The cold and official and the warm welcoming,
Flickering on then flickering off,
The driver is restless; our journey is done.
Thousands are still asleep
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly drinks inside a bar in Angel or Soho:
Asleep in rugged Camden, asleep in well-set Finsbury Park,
Asleep in gloomy Holloway,
They continue their dreams,
And shall wake soon and long for weekends,
And none did hear my key in the lock
With a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to wake me next morning?
(with profuse apologies to WH Auden, and any of the uborkites who’ve read this already, cos it’s a repost from here, but although it’s a shocking rip-off of WH Auden, I’m actually quite pleased with it, and will stop talking in parenthesis any time now. Honest.)


2 thoughts on “Night bus

Comments are closed.