SECOND

 

Underground

Tom Sastry (Bristol, UK)


tomsastry300x350Helen Ivory: An analogy of the Tube as the underworld: The dead pass though turnstiles into the earth the poem begins – and I am there too. It’s a strange feeling when you are in your own in a room with hundreds of poems – some leap out at you and take you with them. This poem speaks to that otherworldly feeling I get whenever I am on the London Underground where it’s easy to imagine ‘steps that spill out onto the shore of the thin black river’ and where ‘Posters convince [travellers] that wherever they’re going / they need whiskey and economic news.’ I enjoyed the dark lyricism here - some kind of Blakeian vision of hell: ‘The smash-irons of ghost factories / chant in the darkness like choirs.’

 

 

  

 

Underground

 

The dead pass through turnstiles into the earth.

Some have suitcases or bags.

They travel on walkways or seek out

the forgotten steps that spill out onto the shore

of the thin black river. They stand on the jetty

bothered by hot winds

and stare into the dark mouth of time.

Posters convince them that where’re they’re going

they need whiskey and economic news.

The smash-irons of ghost factories

chant in the darkness like choirs.

 

Then they emerge, solitary, unchanged,

dragging their cases past the unimagined knees

of strangers; eyes pointing towards

the next crossing, the next coffee;

tongues coated in benzene and mint;

ears full of music, hands full of news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem © Tom Sastry