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Michael O'Neill, from Wheel

Daypex

1

Your Daypex ticket has imprisoned you
in this cathedral city all day long.

Those literary folk have stood you up;
no go-betweens in the L. P. Hartley Room.

Still, now you've trodden the aisle
where Katharine of Aragon rests.

She paid the price for being 'simplex'.
You kill time in a bar, then watch

the merry-go-round in Cathedral Square,
horse after horse melting into a whirled

hoop of light. Vendors of Santa hats
brave the hours you count down, until

you fetch up on the platform as a train,
the one before your chariot of release,

awaits its coffee-seeking driver and
you gaze at a girl's tensed profile

before the driver climbs aboard, the whistle summons,
and the stage of the train departs,

conveying such lit scenery
as clarifies the bleakness of the night.

2

This in your head, and then the email
telling you the organiser

was absent, and the event cancelled,
because (but the letters began to jumble),

because of a suicide (but all you'd done
was kill time) the previous day.

The ticket lingered on
in the ward of your wallet for months;

it rebuked you somehow, pricking your skin
when your fingers revolved its edges

and it turned itself, once more, into lines.