and they don’t believe him,
or anyone else, although they pretend,
being well brought up.
Under the desks they are fingering their smartphones,
speaking to friends not present
or sitting a row behind,
their quick downward glances more honest
than their polite attention.
His words cannot make them live it,
the sweet crisp of a human ear,
the coughing reek of hair and tyre rubber,
everything he cannot unsee
the fierce hunger of a mob
forming and unforming
and forming again further down the street,
a mass brain without a thought,
with a twisted instinct for fire.
“All these memories will be lost,”
to these polite young strangers
so keen to hide their disinterest from him;
their smartphones vibrate beneath the desks.