The Curious Sadness of Liking Strangers



A raucous crowd of family

scramble the seats across from me,

talking loudly about their bowels

and Shannon’s newborn baby

produced before her sixteenth birthday

and ‘already sleeping through.’


Some shitty instinctive voice in me

thinks ‘crap.’ Bad luck to end up

enduring the final leg,

listening to lurid tales of

who best pissed their pants

and on which ride

and when they’ll go again.


Then the more curious side of me,

that collects characters like these,

sees this as blatant opportunity.

I abandon my short story

to scribble notes furiously.

‘Rich pickings here,’ I think.


And finally, thankfully,

they end up chatting to me

and we share friendly profanaties

about United versus City,

and suck on sour sweets.


When the train pulls in, delayed,

we go our separate ways

and I feel curiously sad about

the Sunday roasts we’ll never share,

Shannon’s boy’s first steps and

missed rituals of a different Christmas Eve.


Ridiculous, I know.

I’m sure they’ll never think of me.


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