S A M    F R A N C I S










the trainline, 2015-2019


I watch him imagining that he knows and hoping that he doesn't...
He does the crossword
He, all uptight posture, straight-faced and serious
He, all discreet, smart, new generation mafia He, all disciplined back, black pepper skull

He takes his coat down from the rack, dropping a tear of tissue that floats down past my knee like a feather

He tells someone that we are arriving
He sighs and his shoulders relax for a moment
He takes a call and up they go again
He stands to leave
He looks so serious
He has his headphones in
He stands and waits looking fatigued He is so silent and still

He does up or undoes a zip

He turns the pages of a newspaper

He with all his different haircuts and colours

He with all his heights and body shapes and sizes

He leans out of the window and opens the door from the outside
He alights the train to go somewhere else now

And I wonder if someone else is watching me and I don’t even know it


Two teenage knees opposite all snow white skin and light bright hair poke through self conscious hand-torn rips
“Feet off the seat please” calls the guard
His two feet hit the ground
My two feet hit the ground
The guard passes through the aisle
His two feet back on the seat
My two feet back on the seat
A small rebellion shared in silence

Clematis Vitalba....

If all old men had old mens beards I would collect them all up together in my picket and then line them up side by side on the edge of the train tracks in the autumn when their beards are the most full-feathered and wondrous. I would post an advert in the local paper and gather a team of the softest fingered folk to gently stroke their whispy whiskers, lightly teasing out the old fluff to prepare for their winter hibernation in time to get ready for the spring.

In Orange.....

A discarded orange peel withers on the train table like an existential crisis
Not even a real orange, it’s more of an easy peeler modified so that humans don’t have to labour over a real one
Peeled easily, devoured hungrily, discarded readily
it’s skin carefully stripped, curls into three adjoining sections;
a long swans neck of a twist connects to it’s broken wings that spread down to an orange  boat ready to sail it away

Everything is transitory 
Her, so very long and tall
Her, legs scissored in the aisle seat, no room for legs like hers
Her, so high up, head pokes up above the headrest
Her, all lithe as a race horse
Her, all long tended mane Her, all long protracted thing

Her, all long lost fingers 

Her, with all her long longs longing for the longest long


She turned off her phone because he didn’t go to find her
She did this on purpose
To show him something
To prove something
To start something
To continue the war that rages between them

She sits on a metal bench at the train station platform rolling a cigarette, looking up and down the train track
He wears a cap and bright white trainers and pushes a buggy up and down the platform 
She sparks up the cigarette 
He paces and bounces 
They exchange a tender kiss and wait for the train to arrive


A magpie hops onto a fence pole and stares at me through the window
I stare right back at it 
It twitches, turning its head away in a flutter and turns back towards me again staring right into me 
I hold it’s gaze and raise my eyebrows bidding it a good day
C’mon then I say from the safety of the train


All flashes of violet
You move as spilt milk seeping it’s way into every nook and crevice
Strong as an ocean
Persistent as a stream
Unstoppable as a river
Pervasive as pondweed
Overlooked by the sky and its people
You lay your roots and make your home
There in city walls and urban sprawls, the passing green fields and train line edgelands
As tortoiseshells flutter light on your tips, bees upon your lips

The Commute.......
The 7.30pm train to your destination on Friday has had an interior designer in.
It has exposed tin walls, Ikea blinds and mood lighting that is activated by the clap of a hand to create a relaxed evening atmosphere for work weary travellers.
Rare succulents hang down from the luggage racks overhead, scatter cushions in the latest colours are available to lean against the window and take a nap if you like.
Fluffy draft excluders keep out the cold from the opening and closing doors.
There is a shag pile carpet and a shoe rack at the entrance to stop it getting dirty.
The colour of the walls is Farrow and Ball which sets off the changing landscape of the window movie on repeat. 
These people? Oh they’re just associates, friends of friends, just stopped in for a while and aren’t staying long.
The seats? Yes, aren’t they comfortable, they are reupholstered in original 1989 vintage Habitat fabric, very hard wearing yet elegant you’ll agree.
The waitress will be around soon take your order, and in the meantime there are free canapes and fizz circulating if you’re quick.
How about a complementary foot massage?
You deserve it, you must be tired after the week you’ve had.