Cleo Asabre-Holt: Sorry for the Inconvenience

13 Jan

“Ladies and gentlemen, I do apologise, but due to a person under a train at Vauxhall we will not be stopping there. Sorry for any inconvenience caused to your journey. 4 minutes to departure.”


There must be 60 of us condensed into

this carriage, littered with leather shoes

and suits and ties and preoccupied minds.

Only 14 weeks ago somebody I knew wanted

nothing more than to end their life under a train,

Or jump from the block of flats

a five minute walk from their front door.

Or claw deep enough cuts somewhere sensitive.


Yet nobody here seems to consider

The toxic despair seeping into this lost person’s life.

I don’t know if you’ve ever considered suicide,

But I’ve heard the thought becomes soothing,

When everything else is  oh so…

unsettling, exquisitely maddening

physically paining and so much more frustrating

when all you can manage are grazes on your arms

instead of wounds that reach the veins.


 15th of November she said,

I hope I don’t wake tomorrow,

But I know I won’t have that luxury.

Everyday I’m brought into another

unbearable life that is mine,

that I want to give to somebody,

somebody dying who wants to live.

I don’t want my life anymore.”


Yet here she is now grateful and serene.

With so much pleasure flooding in.

During her recovery it felt like it would never end

So I can empathise with this victim,

Fortunately, she came out the other side.



Back on the tube, Most of us sit idle,

Irritated by “the inconvenience”

Some engage in conversation 

about “the inconvenience.”

The driver interrupts again

to apologise for “the inconvenience”

Everybody continues without even

acknowledging the reality

of what just took place.

Perhaps it would be too overwhelming

and too full of truth.


But to me, that doesn’t warrant

the two people who sigh or the man

Sitting with his eyes closed

feet tapping, or the dozen or so

people I note checking their watches.

What an inconvenience.


The intercom sounds and the driver speaks again:


“We have the all clear, so the train will be moving off shortly, and will in fact, be stopping at Vauxhall.”


2 Responses to “Cleo Asabre-Holt: Sorry for the Inconvenience”

  1. Anne January 14, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    The simplicity and clarity of language is excruciating. The calm. You have a way of writing that cuts through the crap, and makes me ‘feel’ and because I am busy ‘ feeling’ I can’t engage my critical brain, so I can’t give you any constructive criticism… I just read the poem as a reader, as your audience, and it makes my chest tight. I am in the carriage with all the other people. Ok. So perhaps, give me more detail about the carriage? I don’t need to know more about the person under the train, or the person who has recovered/survived. Maybe give me more about the train we’re sitting in, the texture of the seats, the smell? Or maybe leave it exactly as it is because it made me feel – but then I’m a push over!

  2. mindfulman (@mindfulman2) January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    i think u need to revise stanza,” yet here she is…. as it is confusing as to who came out the other side? unless of course that was your intention?

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