The Escalator

I’m half way up when the stranger topples.
Her clumsy lack of balance becomes a heavy,

dangerous weight I cannot right. As her body
repels the force of dirty treads, my shoulders

block her petrified bulk. I grip the wide
rubber rail, feel it shudder, her black hair tangles

in my mouth. My other hand gropes her coat;
a very intimate struggle, the abyss behind us

getting deeper all the time. Those on the descent
look embarrassed as they glide down to trains,

until at last, the top, where I lever her upright,
let her go. She walks right into the street

without a thank you. I want to cry and behind me
commuters rise, straight as candles, from the dark.




BreakI like to watch a smoker –
their claims on dank
public space just to stop
and inhale; their outdoor defiance,
their expelled clouds
on passers-by.
There’s something unkempt
about the one on the left.
Her hair, that hoody
she hides inside. Each suck
flashes the bird swooping
on her wrist, as she makes
that smokers bond; shares
secrets with a stranger
for the duration of a burn.
One last drag, then the hiss
in her polystyrene cup.

Moorfields Station, Liverpool


Stuck down here,
far from any field or moor,
awaiting the tunnel’s promised
light, I lean towards its dark
and spot coarse grass
sprouting in the track.

Not long before the smell
of heather comes,
and my feet seem to sink a little
into soil. Other passengers
do not move, keep their hands
inside stuffy pockets,

don’t react to this underground
tract turning green.
I resist their swarm
to the approaching clatter,
bend down to touch
the bracken at my shins.

They board and doors
slide closed, moss thick
at the platform’s lip.