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Sometimes, I’m caught short at the station whilst waiting
For the 11.16; sometimes, I see its tiny grey lights on the horizon,
and with crossed legs and an urgent bowel, I think, I think, I think
I’d better go.

I push open the heavy doors into a lav whose décor takes something
from the wet room at Abu Ghraib. The first cubicle houses a smashed
cistern where some woman finally lost it – but the drunk, blind, desperate
have continued to use it anyway.

The second cubicle has fag burns on the seat. Since childhood, when my
Eyes were level with that plastic ring, I have hated those long, brown stains
That look so much like shit it distresses me. How often I’ve hovered
Above them, gripping the paper holder . . .

But I am always surprised at the third – the third at the far end
With writing across the walls. Some letters are large as ads,
Some an illegible signature, some an illegible scrawl –
Someone has drawn a woman without a head,

Or breasts. Just black blood in black biro spilling on the numbers
Of models or pimps or pretenders: call 86754421 for HOT THAI;
Call 73340796 for FUN TIME. And sequestered in the corner,
A rhyme from a fellow poet:

They fuck you up the government
You may not know it but they see
That you’re a mug and so you’ll spend
Nine grand on what they got for free

On cold, December mornings when you’re squatting in a council loo,
It’s a warming thought to think that women before you have thought
To rummage for a pen, and write the things they think: “Good luck!”
Says one, “It’s a scam!” says two, “Fight back,” says three,

“Shut up,” says four, “You whining Marxist pig. You fat mother-
fucker; you stupid whore. You dick. Fuck you, you twat.”
Such things offer up their own reward. The poet returned
And in the scribble, the mess, the scrawls:

Perhaps, (she wrote)
You’re lucky that you can hate my poems
And never be haunted by the ghosts

That compel me to write them –
Those figures of history

Who whisper “do something”.

Editor's Note: Published with kind permission of the author.