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Man working on a trainThe striking pointlessness of the hundreds and thousands of commuting hours people spend in hot, cold and crowded trains going in and going out will be intimately known by millions across the world. Sleeping, twitching, talking, shouting, looking, working, reading, sneezing, coughing, thinking, dreaming; if only there was another way. This poet ponders the scene.

Listen to a narrator

 

Man on train
(Inspired by a man on a train)

Shiny suit, collar brown,
Sleeves rolled up, looking down,
Case on lap, notes on top –
Meeting notes, perhaps. He mops
His brow, and writes in blood red ink
Pauses, and reads, and has a think.
Adjusts his tie and uses phone

‘What time is dinner? I’ll be home
Quite soon, provided that the train
Remains on time, despite the strain
Of passengers and damaged lines…’

And days like now, when the sun shines
Which makes me hot, and what I want
Despite my study of small font
On paper, on my case, today
Is to throw the bloody lot away
And jump off this God-awful train
Which takes me up to hell again
Tomorrow, and the next day, too
Because, you see, it’s what I do
I catch the o six forty five
Which is scheduled to arrive
At eight fifteen, just in time
To catch the tube, the district line

And in the office, paper chase
Admin, meetings, it’s a race
Against the clock, to get it done
What is it, though, that makes us run
This fast, and dress in funny suits?
Laptops, mobiles, we fill our boots
With crap, and walk a mile alone
Achieving nothing, dragging stone
Leaving patterns here and there
Leaving chaos everywhere

No-one knows quite what it’s for,
The endless journeys, door to door
Decisions which mean nothing much
Action plans which do not touch
The lives of people on this train,
Their problems, questions and their pain
For now, though, I will mark with pen
The pages on my lap, again
Small font, tired eyes and aching head
Home, dinner, telly, then to bed.

(Jenny Knight 2008)

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More people are writing and thinking about work based poetry. Does this poem make you think of anything? Send your thoughts to editor@organisationalpoetry.co.uk

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