a bad journey to nowhere


We arrived (as the brochure indicated) at a treeless station, only 

To find the fond cities dying,

And one or two savage urchins beating

Each other’s faces and tearing clothes.

We learnt later that our relation, Leopold Muckslick,

Having abandoned his job, grew desperately thin, and,

Giving up the Ghost, set himself alight and jumped in the Thames.

(He was unable to greet us.)

After many fretful minutes, filled with the clanging of old bells

                                             and engines letting off steam, 

We decided (and not a moment too soon, either) to board a taxi.

As we drove away, a blue-and-white scarfed crowd

                                                                  of a hundred or more

Began to clash with a blue-and-helmeted crowd of twenty,

                                                                         at a guess.

Only a side-window of our taxi took a knock

As we screeched beyond the flailing crowds

                                      and cold railings, though                 

We had realised by then that our journey had no sponsor

And our brochure was a nothing-lyre.

We became preoccupied with Leopold,

With water and with fire.

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