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Stagecoach to Petersfield

Stagecoach bus

I took a bus to Petersfield,
It shook so much,
And clattered,
That the panels quite gave up,
And flew like finches,
Fast to hard cropped fields.

The destination sign detached,
Somewhere near Stroud,
And one by one the smoking wheels
Spun off down twisted muddy lanes,
Unmapped routes to who knows where.
I thought of them careering into
Caravans,
Or box-lined drives, with plaster lions,
Before they fell, poor bloody troops,
Surprising stoats and badgers.

The grubby windows
Cracked and shot.
Dirty
Diamonds
Glittered on the shining road.
The seats gave way, and as we fell,
Or grasped the metal bones,
We watched them twist and bounce
And come apart like pop-up cards.
A screech from the abyss and then
The pipes, the struts, the stairs
Exploded like a flock of crows,
And roosted in the hedgerows and
The passing trees.

When we arrived at Petersfield
We were nothing much at all:
A slick wet floor and screeching hubs,
A pall of smoke and sparks.
We staggered from the coughing wreck,
Said thank you to our driver.
And though he too had lost his wheel
(His speech as well it seemed)
Somehow he’d kept our cash
Clutched tight in bony claws.

I found a cafe in the square,
And drank a lonely mocha there.
They played the hits from ’84
(I felt I’d lost my soul and more).

As darkness fell I clocked the stares,
As one by one they stacked the chairs.
But I knew I’d never yield,
Dismembered there in Petersfield.

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