Canto CCX

I turn away and give him no reply—
the pisshead on the bus that seems to think
that I’m his best mate, or at least I try.

Even when these guys have missed a drink
they still sound drunk, as if they have forgot
how to act sober. I also have a chink

in my own reserve because I cannot
help but cut in when he gives his take
on the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh,

some old story about a famous fake
of his work from the eighteenth century,
“I’m sorry, but I think you mean Van Dyke”

And when a frail old man gives up his seat,
the pisshead says, “Oh look a gentleman!”
the man shouts back,” I’m a fackin’ ex marine!”

The next five stops pass by in blessed silence.

Canto CXII

That flouncing, curly tosspot from last night,
the one who talked loudly over the poets,
must’ve exhausted my reserves of hate

cos normally I’d reach the end of my wits
to hear these different voices babbling
into phones as the driver regulates

the service, but instead I listen in
to each layer of the building symphony
of hissing headphones, ringtones and the din

of languages that all sound Dutch to me.
I do not know the ones with whom they speak,
these solipsistic creatures of the city,

what unintended, sweet music they make.

Canto XLIII

That flush of red that’s splashed across the Thames—
viewed from the bus while crossing Tower Bridge—
will never, ever meet my sight again

the way it meets me now; one couldn’t stage
these many factors to converge like this,
so all that’s left’s to sit and acknowledge

the sumptious vision that I would have missed
if I had kept my head down while reading
the latest scoops from neuroscientists.

I hear that in Japan, businessman drink
for hours beneath a tree that flowers at night,
whose petals all die out by morning.

I wish I had a dram to pass about
to fellow passengers that steal a glance
before this blazing moment fizzles out

and we are no longer the chosen ones.

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