Suburban railway romance

for a while i lived in Dalkey and had to get the train to work. i loved the masculinity of diesel trains: the engine growl, the smoke, the squeal of badly oiled axels…


  • what was it in me that sang out,
    what repressed my joyful shout
    when oncoming train symphony heard?
    Axels squealed in accents slurred,
    carriage connectors ground tensely,
    platform packed ever more densely
    waiting for lumbering train to stop,
    eyes consult watches, station clock.

    scrambling shoes xylaphoned floors,
    curses uttered, randomly-locked doors,
    cold breath mingled with cigarette smoke,
    dark clouds theaten – but only joke,
    uniformed men blow whistles in pretence,
    false alarm at anxious commuters expense,
    finally green flag raised dramatically
    engine accelertion, carriages jerk erratically.

    under stubborn granite bridges we pass,
    scenery seen through smudged glass,
    diesel growl grumbles, exhaust exhaled cloud,
    railside greenery obediently bowed,
    awkwardly held open news broadsheets,
    carriages sway, bodies bump, shod feet
    get accidently stood on, apologies made,
    commuters by railway romance conveyed.


    photo: Aubrey Dale


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