Once I got off a lightly populated London-Underground train at a main station, and suddenly, coming toward me, were hundreds of football (soccer fans), almost all young, male, rowdy, loud, and drunk--even though they were going to, not coming from, a match. I felt like one fish swimming in the wrong direction, schools of fish swimming toward me. Except these were humans, not fish, and their bodies were preceded by their noise. Finding a wall right-quick seemed the thing to do, so I did, and the mass of amped-up humanity passed and filtered onto trains. I did get a whiff, though, of that mob-mentality that can go wrong so quickly. The more common collective affect, if not mentality, of the commuting masses is perhaps more telling about us as a species, however, than that dangerous potential quickening of mob-thought.
At Frustration Station, crates
of bad karma get off-loaded,
vats of bile sit in storage, and
tickets turn to paste. Conductors
have called a halt. Engineers
weep, and tunnels belch hot wind
recirculated from the 1930s.
Departures and arrivals melt
into one immobile blob. Turnstiles
turn into chrome gun-barrels aimed
at one another. Vermin gnaw
the wires of ambition. Only the fiddler
playing for oily coins puts on
a cheery, sticky smile.
These faces, these faces, these
faces twist toward scream.
Copyright 2007 Hans Ostrom