THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2002

 
David Angel
COMMUTING
  On this coast where Ulysses, a Sunday
sailor if ever there was one, might

have landed by mistake, the motorway
runs like a metal strip, beside the railway

line, through miles and miles of orange trees.
The diesel train I'm sitting in

is rocking through the heat and dust,
the dusty army green of alcachofa fields.

Each speeding car repeats
a punctual blinding message to the brain.

The sky is blue, once more, again, again.
Fields of broken saws and knives: no hills,

no elevations: if you look much closer, spikes
and maces, the detritus of some medieval war.

Fires burn on rubbish heaps. A Coca-Cola can
attacks you with a laser, for you have forgotten

your dark glasses, and an occasional tower
isolated amongst flat roofs and breeze–

block houses, picks up its baseball bat
and slams the sun back in your eye.

The train stops. A palm tree rusts
against a wall disfigured by graffiti.

No one gets on or off. Next to the
empty waiting room a pile of avid

listening ears clamber up each other's
backs, their taste destroyed by pop music.

Short swords fold. The man next to me
Cuts a salami with a knife, then spears

his bread. His face is beautiful and tired.
He turns to me and shouts – in Latin.

          
 
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