The Learned Pig

Art – Thinking – Nature – Writing

Way-Hame Poems

For a time, I used to get the train from Dunbar to Edinburgh and back again at least twice a week. In a bid to keep me sane and to put this time to work, I challenged myself to write a poem in the 20-minute journey hame. I attempted not to write or edit these outwith the train journey. Be kind then, I am on my way-hame.


5th November

I am still

not on this.

Twenty minutes in

and not enough time to-


7th November

They’ve got their carry out

for their carry on. Cocktails

in tins, clink. And you all

side-eye. The hushed tut!

That fuckin’ hell sigh.

Who are we-really? Aye.


8th November

I am trying to think about anything else

but I really need a wee. I am wondering

if you got my message to book the taxi. I just

want to be at home. I think you may already

be asleep and I am not sure what is worse, the lack

of toilets on this train or how much I miss you.

How about that for love?


12th November

Nae seats – writing this poem

on my knees – wish I could

have chatted for longer but

I really needed to make this train.

Now, I am on my haunches thinking

of all the things I forgot to say.


13th November

We are tired today on the 4:33. The man across from me,

is out for the count, mouth dropped open, his railcard

out like a do not disturb. I walked past two of you

on my way to this seat, flat out, heads down.

Night is closing in at our windows and we seem

to comply with our heads lolling. We have switched

rails, slowed down to hibernation. Drooling

on our neighbours. Sleeping faces squashed like

newborns by the glass. Powered by the low snores

we make it hame, emerge from our carriages yawning,

embarrassed of each other, as if something illicit

took place. We snap back to game face- hame face.

Quick nods in passing and we’re off. Lumbering out

of the station to Station Road-still shaking it off.


14th November

It is probably not polite to eat garlic prawns,

I am sorry. I am really hungry. I missed my lunch.

If I waited to eat them. Like at home on a plate.

I would have had to share. I am not good at that.

Less a poem. More an apology. Except I am not sorry.



19th November

We’re holding our breath. Held in.

There is a special kind of silence today.

Our phones are no sort of distraction.

The darkness offers no view. And the light

is far too bright in this carriage to sleep.


20th November (Glasgow to Dunbar)

Happy Days. Happy Days.

We’re jammy. Aye,

jammy as fuck.

We’re going for a pint?

I’ve got my work in the morning.

I’ll go for one just to be social like.

I am no going to Cardiff – fucking hell hole.

Aye, been there, done that, no going back in the morning.

Aye, Bristol though? You’ll still get the craic.

I think they’ve solved their centre back problem

to be honest. So you no going for a pint then?

No man, I‘ve got work in the morning.

See him!

Aye, he’s a bigger arse than two bums.

So, not even just the one pal?

Aye, I could go one.

No me, I am off to my bed.

Got himsel a young wife.

Aye, is that right?

He’s not invited to Christmas dinner.

His wife goes on her own.

Cause they don’t approve?

Cause he’s an arse.

You’ll come for one?

Aye, alright then, but

I am no missing my bus.


21st November

I had the words damp dogs,

all day in my head. I was sure

with the weather we’ve been having –

it would fit to describe us on the 5:07.

But I met a neighbour and we talked

Brexit, but even so, I think it stands-

damp dogs,

with the day we’ve been having

and the year and the year before that.


23rd November

I overhear you say

I feel so depressed,

all your mates laugh.

You play dance music

on you phone. Complain

about an early start

a boyfriend and how long

you have been waiting.

I hear you say, I’m lonely.

Your friends say No! You’re

not lonely at all.


24th November

Last Saturday train to Newcastle,

thankful to get a seat. Three women

stand in the aisle say, they were

lucky to make it, this was their last

chance hame. Man cheers when a young lad

gives up his seat. Will you all be getting off

at the next stop, you Scottish people?

We remain mostly quiet,

although someone nods,

and another says,

aye, we’re all for Dunbar.


26th November

I may have drunk

too much wine.

How did those drunken

poets ever manage?

My only line –

chips n’sauce.


29th November

Still full of proseco bubbles

and dying from the lack of sleep,

the silly that took me like a storm

last night. I am sure I was fine I say

to myself, let out a huge sigh and a wee

bubble. Och! I’m sure I wasne that bad –

Aye, you were. I flick that voice off my shoulder,

realise, I failed to notice anything, and the train is

in Dunbar. Thank fuck! – I‘m no one for that city life.

Aye, you’re an arse. Fuck! I say sorry to no one,

leave one more bubble in the carriage.


1st Decemeber

I can’t see the-

for the high elbows pushing me

back, heading away wi every step, I see you up

ahead, you wave all nice, but I’ll never get near,

not wi all these folk, wi their elbows

sharp edge; and I regret- oh! Oh!

That I was so, so slow getting here

and that you were so, so much better at getting

ahead, all reserved ticket, all first class, first class.

While, I’m shouting my odds, fool in wide berth,

squashed like a sardine, spicy sauce, served on toast.


3rd December

We’ve been talking facts, missing

the fact I’ve missed two trains

and my tea but the fact remains

I would miss all the trains to talk

more poems wi you. I’m a bad influence

but you are the best of best influences on me.


4th December

Mind that gap, you tell

me over coffee. I can’t

tell you that I’ve been

minding that gap

in you, since we first

met. That I put it down to

your wondrous mind, the slip

stream – that writer’s eccentricity.

Something is shifting in here,

you say, pointing to your temple.

We go to the gallery, returning again

and again to this one painting-

all wild sea, dark sparkle sky-

but I remember now, that you

liked the cheerful paintings the best,

the ones with the brightest colours.


Image credit:
Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Colored Rhythm (1953), gouache and pencil on paper, The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation, MoMA.


This is part of RHYTHM, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring rhythm as individual and collective, as poetic and biological, and the ways that rhythm dictates life. RHYTHM is conceived and edited by Rachel Goldblatt.


The Learned Pig