This train is for Cardiff Central

“This train is for Cardiff Central.”

Blokes in ones and girls in twos.
Some in boots and some in shoes.

“All tickets please.”

Punk with nose ring. Ginger hair.
Babe in arms. Collapsed pushchair.

“The next station is Stockport.”

Kids with phones. Teachers with papers.
Both reflecting that day’s capers.

“He was like in capital letters SCREAMING at me.”

A wondrous landscape sliding by.
Look out the window: azure sky.

“Yes he’s been working hard that boy.”

Substituting sylvan March of green
With a silvery iPhone screen.

“Hang on I can’t hear you.”

3G. 4G. Two bars. One.
Battery dead. Or signal gone.

“We will shortly be arriving at Crewe.”

Lunch unpacked from ice cream carton.
Tattooed roses in white flesh garden.

“She’s been snapping at everyone.”

Shirts. And socks. Shorts. And blouses.
Trolley tea. Then terraced houses.

“I’ll have to check with Christine.”

Lives wide open. Windows closed.
Our hopes and fears and thoughts exposed.

“She was proper fit I can tell you.”

Too loud the sinner and the sinned.
All caution thrown into the wind.

“The next stop is Ludlow.”

The man looks up. Sees his reflection.
Shit he says there’s no connection.

This poem was inspired in general by a journey on the Arriva Wales train service from Manchester to Ludlow and in particular by the girl with the tattooed thighs. The words in quote marks are either overheard snatches of mobile phone conversations or announcements made over the tannoy. Both are reported verbatim.