“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,”
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.