the train leaving now
In my rush to get to the right platform
looking for signs to where I want to go
it's easy to miss changing announcements
so when a train pulls in, shiny windows
showing empty carriages of new seats
hope it's mine, look for its destination
over the engine's windscreen but it's blank
so I ask a member of staff nearby
but they shake their head "Not for you" they say
with a look I don't understand, pointing
up the track to where a battered old train
waits already, covered with graffitti.
A smartly dressed man pauses beside us
mutters something about "Should be locked up!"
before taking a breath as if his last
and climbing on with a look of disgust.
A woman stops "Whoever did this
has no respect for public property!"
The member of staff shakes their head sadly.
An old man sighs "It's the youth of today!
Don't know what responsibility means!"
A mum comes up with an empty pushchair
peering round wildly "Have you seen my son?"
A shaking of heads, no one's seen any children.
She shows us a photo on her phone, then
wanders off, calling. My train's filling up.
A girl and boy maybe on their first date
so young and hopeful, climb on the new train
which still has no destination. I go
to get on my train, the smell of stale sweat
tempered with chemicals swallows me, warm
air breathed thousands of times obscures windows
which can't open. Suddenly I want off!
"Are you mad?" others grumble, as I march
against the flow. They are settling down
opening crisps, swiping phones, sipping cups.
Where's the new train going with all that space?
Back on the platform I'm surprisd to see
each window of each carriage has a face.
Maybe it's going to a theme park or
a school trip because everyone is young.
I see the lost boy from the woman's phone
even as there's a station announcement
for a little girl in a purple dress
"if anyone finds her..." Then another.
The sound of names called, louder, shrill, people
searching. The new train hisses, its doors close.
"They're there!" I shout, pointing, but I'm drowned out
by a whistle as the new train sweeps by
the young faces looking out and waving
at the growing group of frantic parents.
"Where's it going?" a father shouts, "Stop it!"
They surround the member of staff and me
so I hear when they reply "Too late, sir!"
"Well, where's the next stop then?" begs a mother.
"I'm sorry, that's the future, it can't stop."
"But it must be going somewhere, where's that?"
"Nowhere, Madam. All children from now on
have no hope. Their future goes nowhere,"
Some collapse to their knees sobbing, some blame
the station announcements for not being clear,
others demand to see the manager.
Later on TV there's an interview,
the Manager says "People bought tickets,
the destination was as advertised
and there are no refunds because children are priceless!
You put Now ahead of the future, seems
you'd rather dream of space than save their Earth -
the one, real, perfect miracle of Life.
It was up to you and you let them down."
I turn it off. What else could I have done?
after reading harrowing https://www.abctales.com/story/harveyjoseph/lost-children
also IP Talking Heads Road to Nowhere