The Beautiful Sarth

It’s just after eleven and each soul
on the Victoria line reads from their phones
or thumbs their way onto the next level

of Angry Birds, when suddenly some loon
begins to shout before the doors slide shut
at some young man who’s just got off the train,

“That’s right, you better get off, immigrant!
Go play them bloody drums in Africa!”
We stay silent, there’s not even a tut,

until a black guy opposite me mutters
“He’s obviously a good friend of John Terry…”
And after stifled giggles I rejoinder,

“There’s drums in Europe too, apparently”
And like that final scene in Spartacus
when all those faithful men stand up to cry

that it is their name too, other commuters
state other places where they play the drums
like Scotland, South Korea and Croatia,

and after each location named there comes
a louder round of chuckles til the man
that made the racist comment sits and squirms—

and after drum location number ten,
he sullenly whispers “I’ve calmed down now.”
His stop arrives, he shuffles off and then,

the man across from me grins and bellows
in a voice that echoes through the platform’s rafters,
“Be careful mate, there’s drums in Pimlico!”

and the train carries off our ridicule and laughter.

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