Murder on the Gatwick Express by Susan Evans

Long ago, before people had mobile phones &
felt compelled to share their destinations &
other dull information; for the whole duration
of their train journey (VERY LOUDLY). Before it
all got very rowdy: a time before people publicly
raged; projecting bile like they’re on Jeremy Kyle
& or having it away with way too many PDA.
Before the tinny torture of ineffective, personal
headphones ‒ yes, TINNY TORTURE!!! Before
passengers allowed their bags entitlement to
limited seats instead of floor, lap or luggage rack.
Before smelly food crept in: greasy brown bags of
Burger King & before when most people used a
bin & before it was deemed somehow permissible
for complete strangers, unbeknownst to you to take
your picture & or record personal conversations &
post online to the nation., (for fun!) Before arrogant
men; too blind to see that equality does not mean
sitting comfortably, while immobile, aged or heavily
pregnant women are struggling to maintain balance
& dignity! Before some train conductors turned into
Talk Radio DJs; gabbing on about nothing through PAs
(with little helpful info on length & cause of delays).
Before any suggestions of separate carriages in order
to protect women from any unwanted attention…
Must mention, that let the train take the strain was
once upon a time, a fitting strap line − a seductive
mode of travel, where you could unravel, driven by
rhythm; from Brighton to London ‒ poems poured
out of me; punctuated by pleasantries; my senses
not assaulted by anything too unsavoury. Long ago,
people mostly engaged in quiet conversation or read
newspapers or books or looked out at the landscape;
the journey a piece of a cake – arrived at Victoria with
this sense of euphoria; a notebook full of drafts to
return to on return & maybe later in the bath…
this was long ago, before the standard ride became a
privatised, over-priced, oversubscribed, endurance test;
before it became: Murder on the Gatwick Express…

Susan Evans is widely published; online & in print; appearing in: Dissident Voice, The High Window, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Journal, Lighten Up Online, Message in a Bottle, Obsessed With Pipework, and Snakeskin, among others. A Brighton-based Performance poet, Susan was nominated Best Spoken Word Performer in the Saboteur Awards, 2016.


Intercity 125 by Joe Williams

I didn’t foresee
That carriage B
Would alter my life
In such curious fashion

And who even knew
That the 10:52
Could ever have been
The scene of such passion?

We entered the station
To great consternation
Our deeds were the subject
Of much speculation

But I don’t regret
And I’ll never forget
The good times we had
Before privatisation

Joe Williams is a writer from Leeds and the creator of Haiku Hole.  In 2015 Joe began performing on the poetry and open mic circuit to inflict his work on a wider audience.  Some of them claimed to enjoy it, so you can blame them for encouraging him to continue.



Thought by Joanne Key

So I had a kick-around with the thought
in the garden for a bit. Not content
with that bit of sport, things turned nasty.

Of course, we’d all had a drink. Having flogged
the thought half to death with a cat-o-nine-
other-thoughts, I nigh on drowned it in rum.

The thought lay steeping, staring at me,
marinading and seething like a slab of living,
breathing meat. I added a spoonful of sugar

and a squirt of lime only to find I’d created
something so bittersweet I couldn’t stand
the thought of it. By this time, I’d had enough

so I flung it at the wall and it stuck. I left it there
and went to bed. After a sleepless night
worrying about the thought downstairs,

I woke to find it had grown to monstrous
proportions – a Thoughtzilla, of sorts.
It had squeezed itself into every room,

filling all the empty space like a giant
marshmallow. Its huge eyes followed me
everywhere. I was tempted to think of it

as the Mona Lisa, without the smile,
but I already had enough on my mind
and decided to leave that thought to one side.

Later that morning, I moved my chair
out onto the lawn, drank tea and watched it
sleeping. I studied it carefully.

It really was one big, ugly, mother-
thought. Slimy tentacles stuck out
of all the windows. It wore my house

like a hermit crab wears a shell. I must admit –
it wore it well, better than I ever could,
but as a last resort at flattening the thought,

I decided to run it over with a monster truck.
Just as I was revving the engines up,
the thought grabbed hold of me again.

It threw me off course and slipped away,
lumbering in all directions along the avenue,
jumping the fences of every dead end.

It shot off at tangents, trying to find the horizon.
I followed in hot pursuit. What else could I do?
I couldn’t leave the damn thing running loose.

Eventually, it ran out of steam and settled down
for a rest by the stream. I stumbled upon it
there, sleeping again. I sat under the apple tree

and hatched my plan. I was so angry, I rolled it
down to the foot of the hill and strapped it
to the railway line. When it woke, I almost

felt sorry for it as I watched it shrink to human form: a damsel in distress in an old film, struggling
against the knots, tied to a black and white backdrop.

It screamed silently for help. But it was too late, a new train of thought was already on the way and sadly I was driving so it was full throttle, no brake.

Joanne Key lives in Cheshire where she writes poetry and short fiction. Her poems have appeared in various places online and in print. She has been shortlisted in a number of international competitions and won 2nd prize in the 2014 National Poetry Competition.


A Stoic at Birmingham New Street by Julia D McGuinness

“Though you break your heart, men will go on as before.”

His 18.36 to Crewe cancelled,
Marcus Aurelius noted only the illogicality
of the announcement coming through
at 18.42.

The queue for Train Information
snaked along the station
like Hannibal’s troops down a mountain pass,
spasmodically butted by traversing passengers,
brash as goats.
Mindful of inner strength,
Marcus Aurelius stepped back,
a neat cubit’s length.

The computer screen a fascination,
he commended the duty girl’s operation,
her agile hands, expressionless economy of
‘This is the only information I have.’
Marcus Aurelius ascertained
his next permissible train
as the 20.01.

Inside Cafe Nero, in seated position,
he mastered desire for his Chester connection;
averted his eyes from a beggar; shunned pity –
emotional giving so morally unfitting;
approved proud football fans’ swift nemesis:
brusque police escort, straight off the premises;
puzzled the sense of a passer-by’s wit:
‘These trains ‘ave gotta be a joke, innit?’

At 19.55, with measured pace,
he duly proceeded towards Platform 8.
The amber-lit board flashed new information:
The 20.01’s cancellation.
At that point,
Marcus Aurelius
lost it.

Julia D McGuinness is a writer, counsellor and writing for wellbeing practitioner based near Chester. She has written 4 non-fiction books and her poetry has been published online. Her first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, was published last year by Poetry Space.