Strange poem this…inspired from the time our garden backed onto a railway line. I don’t know why the subject matter had to be so harrowing (not my usual style)…a dying man’s attempt to speed up his demise. A poem of two halves rhythmically…the train’s approach and its enforced halt.

End of the Line

Nelson from Colne, Lancashire (photo by Steve Bradley)


Bloody trains; never on time,

Not like the days of ‘blood and custard’.

Savouring scents of hot oil and steam.

Beeching the axeman; I was ‘Disgusted’

In letters of protest, letters of “Shame!”

Even Joe Musso; he ran them right;

Just like a swiss watch – moving precision,

Tick-bloody-tock, all day and night.

God damn these trains; trying a saint.

Saint Puffing Billy. Hah! That’s me.

“Give them up, Billy.” What is the point?

Too late now; like the 10.23.

God, it’s hot. And it hurts like hell.

Is this her now, a happy release?

Iron on iron. The banshee’s yell.

On a rusting line, iced from use,

Red mites polka; death’s dancing dots;

Chickweed samba a rhythmic plea.

Without invitation, rosebays waltz

Nearer and nearer my God to thee.

Spat blood spilt on chippings of cream,

Like a lonely rose on her lustrous skin;

That once I kissed and not in a dream

With only the hope that I see her again.

But the banshee screams and now she is gone;

And God, is it finished? From over the edge

Voices are blurring, then blaring; such pain

They think he’s all right but I’ll be the judge!

© gray lightfoot

Hear Gray read the poem…