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.

12 Oct 2016

On Arrival in Ibiza on a Wednesday in October

It’s 1am,
and I’m outside a cafĂ©
in shorts and t-shirt.
I circle in the road
towards a shuffled approach.

The gentleman inside…
he has the spitting image
of a John Smith’s belly
and a ‘tache that’d fare well at darts.

He saunters across the tiles
and then starts collecting menus.

I enquire – half English, half Spanish –
and he welcomes – half smiling, half sighing –
and in walking towards the service point,
he beckons me inside.

In all his weary nights,
I bet he never deemed this poetic.

Aside from two locals on Coca-Cola,
I’m the only punter in sight.

I widen my eyes for a nod of approval
to reach inside the fridge:
grasping a beer, and 1.5l of water.

The bartender sails across her
freshly swept tiles
before leaning towards tiptoes
at the till.
I speak in Spanish,
and she responds in English.
This trend is never broken.

I gaze into the neon
as I suck on my Corona:
this morning I woke up in Grimsby,
so I’m struggling to adjust.

Black ashtrays, white tables,
black chairs and silent streets.

I manage to earwig
about 5% of their conversation.
I’m pretty sure
they’re slagging off the chef.

But as the hombre lobs his towel
over his shoulder,
the bartender hums to Manu Chao
as she skirts back over the tiles,
and I slowly peel the label
from my bottle:

all three of us are united,
and utterly alone,
in the most comfortable of silences
I think I’ve ever known.