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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 20 page 21

verse

Ghetto Train

by Thulani Elvis Mngomezulu

The ghetto train is awaited in
The corrupt station known as Kwesine.
The train is not coming,
Workers are late for work,
Scholars are late for school,
People start to panic.
The expected time for it to come
Has long passed
But they have no choice but to wait.

After long hours, there it comes,
Appearing through the edge of the tunnel.
In no time it has arrived,
Swallowing everyone.
One in five has bought a ticket
And the rest travel for free.
The security guards are used to it,
They are left behind watching
The train go away.

Inside the train
There are many traders selling stuff.
To earn a living, they move from
The train’s head to its toe.
Trying to reach their customers while
The train is in motion,
They almost fall but never do.

Today the train is not as crammed
As some other days when there’s no space
Left to breathe, when some lean against others
For balance and others hang from the outside
Like clothes in a line —
You’d swear a week don’t end without
Someone falling to their death.

Some are smoking marijuana
And the smoke fills the place,
Turning all of us into smokers while
Some preach a good sermon,
Some sing freedom songs,
Some hold simple conversations.

The train stops at each station,
It vomits passengers and it swallows again.
You realize how they come and go
And how they possess the spirit of
Togetherness and how they can lose
It in a split second as well,
When they go separate ways.