The stretched squeal of iron wheels
shook him from a dream,
to find himself on an old tin tram,
creaking up rusty rails,
half way up a steep hill,
and he thought: “I wonder where I am?”
Most of the other grubby seats
were empty, he noted.
The few passengers looked
elderly enough to be ancient,
on the river of time they long had floated.
They stared ahead of them,
were not concerned with him.
They were not interested in his hobbies
or how he kept in trim.
He wondered if he was on his way
to work in an office in the county hall.
Panic boiled his stomach,
alarm thumped his heart,
as if he heard a siren call,
for perhaps he was late.
He remembered having another
of lukewarm tea and butterless toast.
The conductor stalked up the aisle,
like a reluctant, disappointed host.
“Excuse me. Where are we going?”
he asked him.
“Next stop,” was the reply.
That cheered him, made him smile,
for he liked obvious statements,
that was another for his file.
His mind fell into blankness,
a black slate of void.
In a shaky sudden, he woke,
with odd thoughts he toyed.
Now the tram shunted down
a long, level road,
seemingly through the middle
of an Oriental city shopping centre.
Could possibly be in China, he thought,
or maybe in Japan.
“You English are all the same.
You are too polite to say what you mean,”
said an aristocratic looking Russian woman,
like an exiled empress, a bejewelled cobra,
speaking to a tall, thin man
in a black suit and bowler hat,
in the seat behind him.
He smiled, decided to relax,
enjoy the journey where he sat.