Waiting for the Wrong Bus

This bus I await
Is not mine
In the dark
On the 91 Line

I took the 91
Missed my stop;
Now look around
Outside a shop –

In a doorway
Two recline
Homeless among
Homed on the 91 Line

Her eyes closed,
His wide
She reposed
His rest denied

Not hunger,
Not dirt
On her face, her shirt;
His face younger

But pinched,
Eyes narrowed,
Jaws clenched,
Looks harrowed –

Ten feet
Just ten
Separate us
From them

Not an iphone
At his cheek
But a fruit ice –
A second peek

In not yet dawn
She wants warm
While he applies ice!
Wondering in gloom

I check my cash
Two large notes
None small; rash
I approach

“Could you use a quid
Or two?” “Mate,
I could.” (A schooled voice.)
Note unnoted, palmed, hid.

“Toothache?” “Mate, agony,
Three days now…”
Pain cries for relief
Not money…

I’ve three green
Gel tabs, ibuprofen:
These given, palmed,
Expose the fifty. Now

He sees, amazed
“O mate!”
And I, running late
Escape on the 91 –
The wrong bus;
The streets
Of London
Separate us –

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