Send Us Your Poetry: 30 Years Of Poems On The Underground

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 28 months ago
Send Us Your Poetry: 30 Years Of Poems On The Underground
Photo by Dee McIntosh in the Londonist Flickr pool

It's 30 years since Poems on the Underground started. In that time over 500 poems — written by the famous to the relatively obscure — have been published above commuter's head, and next to ads for hair loss clinics.

To celebrate, we want to hear your original poems about the tube. Could be a limerick like this:

There was a prince from Clapham Junction
Who didn't know how the trains functioned
He hailed a train down
Got smacked in the crown
And didn't make his scheduled unction.

A haiku like this:

"Use all the doors please"
Doesn't he realise I
Can only use one

Or an Waste Land-esque epic which, clearly, we haven't been bothered to write. Publish your poems in the comments, or tweet them to @londonist

Last Updated 22 January 2016

Continued below.

Lindsey Berthoud

Bounds Green is my stop
A Charles Holden station of
1932

Jb

THE UNDER LAND

ANGEL is the cruellest stop, leading
Passengers out of the underground, linking
King's Cross and Old Street, exhausting
Commuters with long escalators.
The Northern Line kept us warm, stifling
Us in crowded trains, feeding
A little life with dried tube drivers.

ETC

Jamie Ovens

Everybody's smiling;
a dog is on the tube.
Macaroni hair that's
all curled around my shoe.
A red lead round his muzzle
so his head leans on a thigh,
and I've got the attention
of his brown fantastic eyes.

I'm sad to see him go
as he gets off at Kings Cross.
And every face has changed
now the innocence is lost.

Paul McGrane

Passenger Action

Behind his paper barricade
The Cardigan and Wellingtons
is coughing out a battle cry
against The London Underground

while Badly Matched Accessories,
so late for her appointment with
her City psychoanalyst,
lets loose a sigh of cyanide
on someone in authority.

This is no place for pacifists
and even Sandals takes a stand.
When woken from his dream of spray-
painting the Way Out sign with Man,
he gently flicks the safety catch
and mutters everyone to death.

Suddenly the enemy
crushes our resistance with
a tactical announcement of
'They’ve given us the go-ahead
and soon we’ll all be on our way…'

Submissively surrendering,
we’re forced inside the prison cells
that double up as offices.
Our freedom fighting days are done
until they send us home again.

Kim Russell

London Underground

Iconic masterpiece map

An abstract landscape

Of lines and colours

On the Tube

All that matters

Is the next station

Time, distance and direction

Are almost irrelevant

As you fly through tunnels

Of darkness and light

Rocking to the roar

Of steel on steel

Wires underground

You are electricity

Only order

And connectivity

Matter

Kim Russell

Orpheus on the Underground

Orpheus boarded a Circle Line train at Notting Hill Gate

Bag on his shoulder, notebook and pen in his hand

The carriage was crowded and he had to stand

But that didn’t stop him from singing a song

In a voice that charmed

Bankers in their pin-stripe suits

Secretaries, software developers

And labourers in steel toe-capped boots

Nobody noticed his black attire

The length of his hair or the golden lyre

That was strung across his chest

Until he started to play

Such a sad and mournful tune

That all the nymphs and gods

In the carriage wept

As one

At South Kensington

Eurydice got on

Made her way through the carriage

But Orpheus looked away

Until they alighted at Victoria

Where he was busking for the day

She pursued him through the busy crowd

Until they reached the upper world

The cacophony of rush hour traffic was too loud

He forgot the warning not to turn around

When he did

She was gone

Forever

Ant Smith

Descents and ascents

Arrive, arise
With lightened heart
Leave behind those tunnels dark
Live your life, your briefest spark
Before again you
Descend, depart
Arrive, arise
Play your part
Soon enough
Descend, depart
Arrive, arise
Descend, depart
Are these tableauxes all that you are?

LC

SAFE HARBOUR

Streamlining
seamlessly past
Vauxhall on the
night bus from
Waterloo to
Wimbledon, like a
tired old leviathan
heading home after
a long day’s drift.

Madelaine Bowman

[Untitled]

Intermittent flitters of jazz make light the dark of the underground.

LC

DELAY

Waiting tenaciously
at Clapham Junction
for the 00:51 life raft
to Strawberry Hill;
caught in the deluge
of a battered drunk’s
fractured rant about The
Krays, Egyptian GBH
- “is that racism?” -
and the telepathic
connection he has
with his twin sister.
"The train to Strawberry
Hill will now depart
At 01:00." The biting
rain intensifies,
along with the grip
of the icy wind.

LC

THE PRINCE ALBERT

It was hard to leave
Notting Hill Gate
tonight, a goodbye
of some
permanency,
punctuated by the
transition from
lovers to cool
indifference.

Jamie Lee

the rain fell from the sky as if gushing from a wound
and under the canopy next to the taxi-cab arches
of putney bridge station
it fell to the cobbled London pavement
making a glorious splashing and crashing sound;
the bombs of the water; as silvery eyelashes
bursting in those famous pond-like London puddles
just for a second and then were gone
as i walked past, buried my face deep into my coat
feeling like the greatest writer who ever lived
in the middle of the best novel I ever wrote

Katrien

How can we live without the one we love?
Easy, we can't.

Many lose the ones they considered close,
Yet only a few have the misfortune to be left behind.

Left on this cold and cruel world,
Cursed to wander lonely paths
Till they find the possibility to love once again

Katerina Agyioti

When the trains do not start from Wimbledon
But from the word "train"
I'm sure I'm on the right platform

James Dylan Thomson

The Sign

He laid out a sign saying I love you all
No matter, colour, race, religion, sex.
Even the pretentious fool.

He hung this sign outside the station
And he played his guitar all through the eve.
Though through the noise he was mute.

This song he spoke was that of change
And how it walked by.
And how even through hell it is worth a try.

His song got loud
But the city got louder.
His vision of freedom was just a ramble.

His expression hoping to get to an ear
To show as a guide.
But it just faded.

Walking past
Walking fast.
Whatever is heard; this song will last.

rachel wallace

Hark. hark.. the dogs do bark.. We are getting into Camden Town... Where youngsters flock to see the sights... And oldies sit and frown...

Dylan Davies

The Flow

Away from diesel fuelled red giants

Black wheeled and laden with united clans

Now leaving from grey squared paths

In circled stations, posted and planned

Through glass boxed, blue shirted feeders

Giving issued paper trails

That turn through silver circles

To caverned rooms of double rail

A tracked current of power and people

Electric passed by humanity and steel

With voices and fleeting friendly glances

Boarding London’s high windowed segmented eel

The bustle and stride of many footsteps

Silenced by depth and concrete bands

That holds open a speeding network

A quickened pace through the urban land

Held eyes of wrapped up riders

On broadsheet, or magazine, or book

This narrow slot of mind read interest

Interrupted by a chequered stationed look

Some seated in blue crowned softened comfort

While others stand on handed yellow beam

The roundabout of rotating riders

Their cities blood pumped to every seam

Our capitals sunken arterial flow

Giving life and breathe to high-rise frames

A warmth of being to every bodied building

The transported fuel of London’s benevolent flame.

legghorn music & video

In radiated twilight you watch the acid rain

You left your home and family they thought you were insane

But now they’re undercover afraid to see the light

Ever since the saucers landed in the night

Ant Smith

Finsbury Park

Oh those
bulging bulbous balloon boats of Finsbury
beautiful bobbing balloon boats of Finsbury
Bodacious brazen balloon boats of Finsbury
Baffling beaming balloon boats of Finsbury
bulging bulbous
beautiful bobbing
Bodacious brazen
Baffling beaming balloon boats of Finsbury
How you blow my mind!

Lou Lowe

East Putney to Upney

His journey was long
From East Putney to Upney
When he arrived what would he see?

His mother lay dying he had known for some time
He sat thinking of his parting words as the tube trundled along the line

His thoughts shifted to other commuters
Where were they going?
Drinking coffee and rustling newspapers whilst toing and froing

Maybe like he they were travelling towards life changing woes
or maybe to see one of those theatre shows

His journey was long
From Upney back to East Putney
Everybody has their own journey

L.R.Lowe

Alexandra Jane

Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction

Heads down, swaying together
both transfixed by the same jerky beat.
My foot touches yours,
I apologise, you smile.
Then go back to reading your Metro.

Matthew Friday

Banana Man on the Bakerloo Line

With the delicate, cautious care

of a first-time mother

reaching for her crying baby,

the man on the Bakerloo line train

tip-toes his fingers into his bag.

With surgical precision he extracts

a blackening, limp banana skin.

Not looking up once from his paper,

he sneaks his hand behind his back

and deposits the skin there.

Reading
continues

as if nothing has happened,

just like the cigarette butt flickers,

the chewing gum spitters

the wrapping-paper discarders.

I should speak out, start a revolution

of responsible rubbish but

like the million of tongue-less

citizens, I just watch, and now

dump these words on this page.

Richard Earls

A meal and a movie on Monday night

Mind the gap, between the train and the platform
Mind the gap, keep clear of the doors
Mind the gap, when the train gets to the station
Mind the gap, the next stop is yours

A meal and a movie on a Monday night
I drank beer, you drank wine
We took the tube to Leicester Square
I think we even skipped the fare

We snuck in to see the film for free
I think we saw Love Actually
Credits roll on the final scene
Then back off home to Willesden Green

Mind the gap, keep clear of the doors
Mind the gap, between the train and the platform
Mind the gap, when the train gets to the station
Mind the gap, the next stop is yours

Now there's a gap between you and me
It's a gap where our love used to be
We’re at the end of the line, playing out the closing scene
More Brief Encounter than Serendipity

Alan O'Kelly

Wellington surveyed the Belgian's wrinkled face,
'Where's Waterloo?' He asked with little grace,
The old man sucked his pipe and pointed forth,
'You take the Piccadilly line to to Leicester Square then the south bound Northern Line.'
'Buffoon' snapped the Duke, 'I think I'm heading north.'

Lou Lowe

"Take my hand and mind the gap
We've arrived at Leicester Square
Yes take my hand and mind the gap
It is time to let down our hair "

Alic Joy

Move along the car.
I'm rarely so intimate
with sober people.

Sarah Magee

Talking to a random,
Is sometimes appealing.
Especially when chatting about what your feeling.
The uber driver,
Or stranger on a train,
Can keep you from going insane.
Free therapy on the northern line.
No doubt Influenced by copious intake of wine.

Colette Robinson

‘Mind the gap’ marks the starting line

‘Mind the gap’ marks the starting line
I Squash up; get ready, the prize will be mine

The lights signal it wont be much longer
Scanning the windows, desire growing stronger

A screech, a whoosh, and off we go
I dart and dash; my head snaps to and fro

And there it is, ahead of me
A prize so close, yet so out of reach

Eyes closed, I duck the tirade of arms
Buckle against the sweaty palms

Breathless, I arrive at the end of the race
Peel back my eyelids to see a face

Sitting upon my longed for prize
Wearing a smile and a smug pair of eyes

Tom McColl

JACKPOT

I am, along with hundreds of others,
the prize on this occasion,
and Oxford Circus
has the winning combination.

I’m always reminded of a fruit machine
when the tube train
enters each station
and the posters on the wall
fly past the carriage window I’m facing.

When it slows to a stop,
through each window
I can see a poster
for a product or a shop,
which with the Oxford Circus sign,
on Saturday,
will win the jackpot every time.

Through my personal stereo headphones,
the Capital Radio DJ announces:
“While traffic lights are down,
expect delays and congestion
round Oxford Circus station,
as the midday shoppers
flow like coins
from every exit
on to Oxford Street.”

Maddie

"Do not think about failure. Remember that even stars fall sometimes
and when they do, people wish on them"

www.facebook.com/maddiegodfrey...

Maddie

The first time I kissed this city
I was slumped against a red phone box
Breathless under the billboards,
London was gap toothed
But I did not mind the gap.

www.facebook.com/maddiegodfrey...

Shaimilan

London is a beautiful city, because there is a lot of diversity.
This city is succesful and wonderful.
There is people of all countries:chinese and japanese, indian and african.
If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate, come to this city and see its beauties.

Myriam Rharsalla, France.

Travel with all persons
It's the beauty of London
Black, White, Brown
It's the colour of London
The Diversity it's London

Kunaratnam Shaimilan, France

maria sacko

In London diversity is permanent
They are Indians and Blacks people
Arabs and Whites people
Chineses and Mixeds people
In London , racists ?! They aren't!!

Ninos Clark

London underground is fantastic
A lot of peopleuse it all week
In the underground it is very diverse
In the London underground poeple are generous
In the underground we travel all aroud
Chaima

When you are on the London public transport
You will stop your bad habits
For example put your feet upon the seats
Or simply something inappropriate and unplesant
For the well-being of the visitors and citizens
Who meets every day in the same point : London public transport
Anass

Madame Amar

London is diverci city,
you canse yellow , white and black that change nothing.
London is a beautiful town.

Haidara, coumba france

Zianab Khan

London is open and successul
Everybody has their chance
Many different people come and visit London
Because it's a beautiful and diversity city
London is a business city
London has a full energy and activity

Madame Amar

I love you
I love the peace of london
Peace is beautiful
I love the diversity of London

yasmina/France

Ilyes Saidi

london is open for every one in this world there is chines,japoneis,africains and a lot of people in the world. london is a beautiful contry you can live very well you can visite london or study you can be everyone because london is lively and big. come in london and test yourself.

Salimatou

Orders on public transports:

In the underground, you do not push people
-you do not speack loud on the phone because it is annoying
-you do not block the way and move a long inside
-put the free newspapers in the bin when you finish reading

Magassa Salimatou France.

Madame Amar

You must n' t eat smelly food
It mahes passengers in a bad mood
You must n' t put your foot
on the seats because it causes soot
you must n' t leave your paper on the pavenent in London
You must n' t pollute the city of London Sarah,France

Rob Marenghi

THE MAGICIAN'S HANDS

The doves are dropping from
The magician's hands
He's leaving through the backstage door
He's left us staring at
The place where we were hypnotised
The place he made us laugh
He often made us kiss up there
Then he sawed us in half

The trees are falling down
In our sweet orchard
We climbed them all so freely once
The groans we almost heard
But now there's just a graveyard there
Grey stones and kneeling men
A sentimental man might see
A chance to use his pen

The stars are falling down
From an empty bowl
As I walk home in solitude
Inflicted by my soul
I wonder if we'll reach it soon
That plateau we spoke of
Waiting round the bend for us
To save us both from love

Rob Marenghi