Rush Hour

On stuffy streets as day recedes
waste-bins spill discarded swill.
Well-fed skins in well-bred suits
wade through crow-picked sandwich packs
sweet-wrap glued to soles
of shin-buffed shoes.
Vendors turn tail when designer thieves
ditch decorum to outrank the elbowing
out-bound rush.
Commuters strap laptops on gym trained backs
to paddle down steps that sag and are speckled
with spat-out chewing gum.
Sunk in the gloomy tube the leavers weave
like honey bees to the hive
yet the hive was demolished long before
technology flew to the fore
before Guy Fawkes fell fowl of the law
before kings and paupers took to war
The hive was broken
before we chipped our first weapons from stones.

Grime chases motoring escapees;
filth silts bonnets that shone last Sunday
grey covers grey covers faded grey
on a plumbers battered van whose rear
bears timeless finger-scribbled hint:
“Please clean me”, it quasi-politely invites.

White lines across one-way lanes
defy fiery drivers to break highway rules
so they usually wait at ruby lights
though they ache to speed away.
Widows and singles, mothers and sons
racers and cruisers, winners and losers
of a million hungry games, all
wait,
sitting in in triple queue
at the lights
impatient for later to arrive
with kisses and drinks and cushions and food.
Thumbs drumming snippets of brain-numbing tunes
they wait for each set of lights
to change
hoping the next will be kind.

Beneath fudged city sky, sterile erections
flash screens that advertise corruption.
Rainbow phrases designed to disguise the trail
that leads to our stumbling destruction
are blurred, yet never erased
by the dust that rises
from humankind’s futile stretch.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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