This poem won the Yorkshire Prize in the York Open Poetry Competition, 2012, judged by Neil Rollinson.
The first man who sat next to me was a bear,
thick fur, sour breath, paws like ski gloves.
Said he was having a tough ride at work.
Fleas played hopscotch on the back of his neck.
I pressed close to the window, saw my own reflection,
the world playing across it like a cine film.
When he got off, he left a crumpled newspaper on the seat
and the smell of his worries, like overripe fruit.
The second man was a cockerel, made his foot
into a fist to shield his cough. Bits of grit
came out with his breath, sounded like lead shot
on the carriage floor. He pulled a laptop from under
his wing, logged on, Googled the words ‘Thai Brides’.
A hundred thumb nail photos appeared.
Now and then he clicked on a picture, peered
so close his beak tapped the screen.
The third man to take the seat was a pig, got on
at Derby, pink-skinned, bloated, vest-top two sizes
too small, blond hair on his forearms almost
long enough to comb. He smelt of Lynx,
stashed a carrier bag full of lager under the seat,
rested his shank against mine. Coming into Sheffield,
the lights shivered, dipped. Static between his shell suit
trousers and my nylon tights made fireflies in the dark.
Love it. I’m still smiling. Fireflies – perfect.
May I “borrow” this for a workshop with Barnsley Writers, please?