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.