Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

14 Oct 2016

Midnight, Leeds Coach Station

It’s only midnight, but it feels much later.
Leeds coach station:
less for lost souls,
and more for rejected reels.
A man whose “s” makes a whistle
is demanding to go to Rotherham.
Meadowhall, 5 miles down the road,
will not suffice.
An oriental woman
in her well preserved 60s
circles the outer perimeter:
chuntering to herself
beneath the mist-like drizzle
as she waits for the 465
to London.
Arguments ensue over the functionality of the ticket machine.
I offer a sympathetic smile to the lime green tabard
and receive raised eyebrows in response.
He allows himself a smirk
as eyes slip out of contact,
before it’s back to the barrage
from Rotherham.
The coach to Meadowhall is at 00:20.
The coach to Rotherham is at 02:20.
Meadowhall is maybe a £10 taxi away,
or an hour’s walk,
but he’s insistent on direct travel.
My ticket to Wakefield cost £1.90.
My Tunnock’s caramel wafer cost £1.00.
The oriental woman checks the time again.
It hasn’t changed.
Off she chunters:
exchanging dialogue with the midnight air.
Another new shopping centre,
pregnant above. The Playhouse snoozes.
A trio of taxis contemplate turning in:
too expensive for this life.
The cash machine is out of order.
The toilet is 30p.
The city looks like a screensaver,
but still the sound of machinery
grunts from the shadows.
Mr Rotherham lights a cigarette by Bay 1.
He is not told to put it out.
Lime green tabard takes a carrier
to his navy Vauxhall Zafira.
It looks cheaper than 5p.
The machinery makes almost a dim ringing sound:
throbbing in the breeze.
On its arrival,
Mr Rotherham attempts to board the 465,
for which he did not purchase a ticket.
He pushes to the front of the queue.
You can’t buy tickets on board.
The closest stop
is Sheffield city centre.
He throws down his cigarette;
unsatisfied with the distance.
The man in front of me
is travelling to Budapest.
I am travelling 10.6 miles,
although I did start the morning
in Calais.
In a coffee shop in Euston,
I read ‘Howl’.
I worked through it slowly,
repeating each stanza.
I still don’t understand it,
but I like it much better.
The woman beside me
orders a taxi from Mansfield.
The reading light does not work.
This coach does not carry
wandering souls,
but rejected reels.
Some are between auditions.
Some will never be seen.

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