The Commuter

There’s a man on the bus,

(neat, in a shirt and a tie.)

Manifestly ordinary,

(as he lives, so he shall die.)

He reads papers intently, (a lawyer maybe?)

He jots in the margins, and nods knowingly. [[ADS]]

ADOPTION it says, in bold uppercase.

What is it that he reads, to give that look upon his face?

He looks out the window, with far away eyes,

and deep in his heart old emotions arise.

And in a long distant past, a chilly wind gives out a blast,

and in the mirror of his soul……a young baby cries.

There is a baby in a room (a long, long time ago.)

Fresh from the womb (just a month or so.)

He’s in a ‘temporary dwelling’ (much like a shed,)

he’s soiled and he’s sodden (and he hasn’t been fed.)

He’s living with his Auntie (his Mom couldn’t cope,)

it’s a short term arrangement (at least so we hope.)

He cries and he screams – but there’s no-one to hear.

(His Aunt is out with men, and drunk on cheap beer.)

Day after day, week after week,

The cries are reducing, the baby grows meek.

“Why don’t they care for him?” the neighbours exclaim.

“That baby’s neglected and clearly in pain.”

Weeks become months, until the welfare come,

(Bye Auntie……thanks for all you have done.)

They’re taking him now from his trouble and strife.

Yes, he’s going on to live a much better life.

There is a little boy on a farm (a long time ago.)

He’s sad and he’s lonely (it’s his genes you know.)

There’s no-one to play and sheep do not talk,

and ducks and chooks, they just shuffle and squawk.

Daddy doesn’t want him (the kid’s not of his seed,

and he wasn’t consulted about this mouth to feed.)

And in the years to come when the boy makes mistakes.

Daddy will be watching (in the grass like a snake.)

(But Daddy is patient, he’s not in a rush,

a little boy’s spirit is easy to crush.)

Daddy won’t hit him (no, that’s not his role.)

Daddy’s more subtle (he strikes for the soul.)

The little boy visits Granny (a long way away.)

Where people whisper about him (it’s strange things they say.)

He has cousins there (but they don’t want to play.)

(Don’t dig the dirt and don’t stir the mud,

he’s not a bad kid but he’s not of our blood.)

They know things about him (that he doesn’t know.)

He’s not one of us (doesn’t it show?)

Watch what you say, make sure you don’t tell.

(If those cousins slip up, their life will be hell!)

They’re relieved when he’s gone (back to that farm.)

If he doesn’t find out, it does the least harm.

There is a little boy (a long time ago.)

He’s clearly upset (but doesn’t like it to show.)

He’s by Mommy’s side, she’s gasping for breath,

pale and panting, looking like death.

He’s seen it often before (Mommy’s going away.)

Will she come back this time? (Too hard to say.)

Will he be all right, if Mommy leaves him alone?

No need to worry….Daddy’s still at home.

There’s a little boy (a long time ago.)

They’re sending him away (he’s ten or so.)

“You will soon settle in,” Mommy says with a squeeze,

“If you stay clear of trouble, you’ll find it a breeze.

You’ll learn lots of things and you’ll have your own bed.

A good boarding school will get you ahead.”

As Mommy drives away, he doesn’t shed a tear.

Nobody will see this young child’s fear.

But something occurred, as she drove away,

a keen will to learn was stopped dead that day.

He didn’t learn to add and he barely learned to write.

(Daddy was pleased, “See, I was right.”)

The little boy survives (teeth still intact,)

learns how to be tough (more illusion than fact).

He learns how to keep those bullies at bay,

(though sometimes by hiding I have to say.)

A broken nose, for sure (and of course that fractured jaw.)

Well, it’s a price you must pay,

(some types of pain, though, never go away.)

But he never let them take him, as were some,

taken to bad places, where bad things were done.

He emerges years later but his spirit’s mislaid,

five years have only taught him how to be afraid.

There’s a young man now (he’s seventeen, at best.)

He has stood up to life (but he’s failing every test.)

He lives in a flea pit (and couldn’t give a ****).

Always drunk or stoned (he’s not a healthy man.)

He knows he’s unhappy, but he couldn’t give a snuff,

and of drugs in particular, he just can’t get enough.

Something’s wrong inside this man,

(a pain that is obstructive,)

it doesn’t want him to survive,

(so it makes him self-destructive.)

He knows he holds unusual fears,

(not simply those held by his peers)

and he holds too many seeds of self doubt,

and the only way to deal with it, is to try and drown it out.

And self esteem – very hard to distinguish,

(just another attribute, long ago extinguished.)

And a sprinkle of self hatred – yes that’s there as well.

All in all, a nice little recipe, for a nice little hell.

There’s a young man (nineteen, I would say.)

While desperate and broken a sweet soul comes his way.

How fitting, when life has become such a curse,

enter, stage left (you’d never guess) a young trainee nurse.

She has the courage he has lost (and the hope he has rejected.)

She’s bloody determined (and won’t let him stay dejected.)

“You’re not dumb and you’re not a bum, and you have a decent heart,

and yes, you’ve led a troubled life but you can to make brand new start.”

She sends him back to school no less (he still thinks he is a fool at best.)

But oddly, he finds, he does know how to learn,

and a fire lost inside him, rekindles and burns.

There is a young man now (he might be twenty three.)

He’s sailing with an even keel, (and now holds a good degree.)

His nurse has mended him and put his soul within her cast,

but a cold relentless wind (from a dark and distant past)

is gathering in strength….and it’s about to break his mast.

His little nurse will say to him, one dark and drizzly night,

“There’s something I’ve found out, my love, and I just hope you’ll be all right.”

She understands his reaction, his confusion and his pain,

(why hadn’t they just told him – what was there to gain?)

She knows he feels betrayed and cut right to the core,

She can only hold him close – she wishes there was more.

He cannot tell his mother, that he knows the secret of his past.

She is too gravely ill, and not much longer does she last.

But if it were an option, there are things he’d dearly say,

he’d express his love and gratitude, in every single way.

But he would also have to tell her, that she made the wrong assumption.

To think this secret was best kept, was a terrible presumption.

For when you meet the unexplained, and have no tools to understand it,

the unknown source of pain, can leave you lost, alone, and stranded.

There is a young man (he’s nearly twenty four.)

He’s anxious for a letter, and there’s knocking at the door.

Will he feel better now, that it finally arrives?

(Though it talks of strange events, and of even stranger lives.)

Of what it says, he really isn’t ready,

he reads it several times,

(his eyes are moist and his hands unsteady.)

Ninth of twelve it says, six boys, six girls.

He just can’t believe it, his mind’s in a whirl.

He remembers that bleak farm, that sad and lonely child.

Life might have been so different, his thoughts are running wild.

The natural mother is long dead (so this peculiar letter said,)

and he has a father (whose name apparently was John).

Nothing really mentioned though, of how it all went wrong.

He has no full blood siblings (it’s stated as a fact.)

In the entourage of twelve, he’s the joker in the pack.

(That may explain some things though, about that baby long ago,

how it came to be alone, in a drunken Aunties home.)

The laws prohibit, of course, any further explanation,

but they tend to underestimate, the fired imagination,

(and how a whetted appetite, can fuel determination.)

There is a young man (he’s nearly twenty five.)

He’s looking for his roots and how he came to be alive.

He has a number in his hand and he’s about to make a call.

He knows he holds a hand grenade, and he’s afraid he’ll let it fall.

Should he ring this long lost sister, or simply let it lie?

No, he’s come too far now – he starts dialing with a sigh.

“Yes, we know of you, in fact we’ve always known.

You went off to some farm, someone else’s home.

When we wanted food to eat, we sold buttons on the street

and after we were fed no-one tucked us up in a bed.

Not the same for you I bet,

lucky little farm boy, some woman’s little pet.

Well, we can meet you I suppose, but don’t you misconstrue,

You’re not part of us, and we’re not part of you.”

Well, he goes to meet them at last, those ghostly figures from his past.

Not all of them, some, like him, were also sent away, (some years later

– after she had died,) they’ve yet to be located, but at this point, he

hasn’t tried.

There is eight of them he meets, and they are a tight knit bunch,

and they can not understand him, when it comes down to the crunch.

There is a young man (a little wiser on this day.)

He understands their treatment of him (though the hurt won’t go away.)

It will be many years, before he tries with them again.

(It takes a fair amount of time to ease this kind of pain.)

He’s kneeling at his mother’s grave (a paupers site, its plain to see.)

A mother he can never know, (the son, he can never be.)

The rain is falling freely and mixing with his tears,

There is no way to get them back – those lost and formless years.

There are things he’d like to say to her, and things he needs to know.

(Why did you forsake me Mom, why did you let me go?)

But death is so unyielding – the final body blow.

And in this circumstance, it leaves a bitter yearning……..that few

can hope to know.

There is a young man (I think he’s thirty four).

He’s tracked down his father now, (an alcoholic and a bore.)

He tells him little of his mother “She was just a whore!

That’s all I’m gonna tell you – from me ya’ll get no more.

She stole money from my wallet to feed her little brats.”

(Some things he could tolerate but apparently not that.)

“I only went to see her, for physical relief,

(It’s just the facts of life, my boy, I don’t mean to cause you grief.)

But go lookin’ somewhere else if you wanna find a saint.

A lotta things ya mother was but that’s one thing she aint”.

Strange, that he had sought him out, with such a passion and a yen,

yet after one encounter, the two shall not meet again.

There are truly things in life, to make you want to cry,

how a woman can be desperate, yet a man can justify.

How simple turns to complex, through the spilling of a seed.

How a tortured life begins, in such a basic human need.

How prevailing circumstances, can produce the wrong result,

How two can be to blame, yet neither be at fault.

How a life can be conceived and then simply cast aside.

How there can be the wrong convergence,

in life’s unrelenting tide.

There is a man turned forty (he’s more than a little sad.)

His little brother has just killed himself (was life really all that


Though time and circumstance, forbade them to be close,

in an embryonic past, they had shared a common host.

And the pain in her release to that unreachable location,

was the mutual pain of common blood, of mutual loss, and dislocation.

Well his brother, he has joined her now, and there is no redemptive act,

nothing to be done, that can ever get them back.

There is a man still forty (and he’s nearly come apart.)

He has found another sister (and she has poison in her heart.)

She is trying to destroy him, for what purpose I’m not sure.

Perhaps it is just habit, in a nature soundly flawed.

To say that she is evil, exaggerates belief,

but of this form of sickness, there is no medical relief.

So it is with sadness, he finds he must withdraw.

And to this sister struck with madness,

he must shut and bolt the door.

There is a man of forty one (he’s been through many trials.)

But he has found another brother, one who at last can make him smile.

There is an essence flows between them, intangible yet strong,

a reciprocating passion, a knowledge they belong.

But there is a certain sadness, too, that dwells in both their hearts.

It is of all the years they lost, when life had kept them far apart.

But at least they are together now, and can tread a common path,

and they can talk of their beginnings, their mother’s life and death,

and it’s tortured aftermath. And they can reason it between them,

and find some peace in their collusion,

brothers, not merely of the blood, but of fact, and not illusion.

Yes he’s found his little brother, (and for that he’s really glad.)

For at last he has another, who knows why he feels so sad.

And he has his little nurse, who holds him ’til he sleeps,

And now he has his little babies, who make him smile,

when, at times, all he wants to do, is bend his head and weep.

There is a man of forty one (he pursues a certain quest.)

He has one brother left to find, then at last, he can lay it all to


So many things he has discovered (but understood too few.)

Are some things best left uncovered? (That judgement’s up to you.)

But when he looks back on it all, (and I’m sure he does reflect,)

He must watch for certain thoughts, and be very circumspect.

For otherwise there is a risk (and it’s more than merely slight)

that chilly winds, from years gone by,

may yet engulf him in the night.

There is a man on the bus,

(ordinary, in a shirt and tie).

His time is up, his stop has come,

(he rises slowly with a sigh).

And somewhere lost in space and time,

(in the inner chambers of his mind)

a biting wind that gathers pace,

smites a tiny baby’s face,

and he gives out to the world….a lone and haunting cry.