Standing Clear


The voice told me to “ stand clear please,

stand clear”

but I boarded anyway

immersed myself in the clatter

gave in to the rocking

sat, staring out the window

at the framed abstraction of the city

searching the unrecognisable faces

of strangers

anonymous passengers

standing clear


13 thoughts on “Standing Clear

  1. Wonderful concrete words for a sea of abstractions. Standing clear with shimmering outlines. Succinct and well done!

    I had to ask the first time I was in London, what on earth, “Mind the Gap” meant. “Mind” only rarely means “watch” or “notice” here in the US. It means “obey” as in “that child won’t mind me”. And gap is like a ravine, a crater, not a little open space between a car and platform. Now, as you see, I know.

  2. I hate those automated voices…. I want to do the opposite of what they tell me, too. I don’t know if it was intended, but your last line made me think of how, (as people,) when we gather publicly in a place such as a tram or an elevated train like in Chicago, how we all “stand clear” of each other, an uspoken agreement not to be familiar, not to join in the fray of each other’s lives, not to dive into anything more concrete than “excuse me,” never to share the joy or sadness of the day with one another, but only to look away, continue to stare out into that framed city as though there is no social context here, nothing to see, excuse me while I just look away. Diane if that is what you intended to relay with those last two or three lines, then Bravo! Even if you didn’t intend it, because of what I just described it is still the most powerful, poignant ending to a poem I have seen in a long time….. And if you didn’t intend it then please forgive my minds tangents…. A lovely poem….

  3. I really appreciate those two meanings of standing clear. This poem evokes for me the feeling of riding the trains in New York: we pile in as long as the door remains open, even as it’s shutting, however crowded. We steal tiny glances at each other, all connected in this common and yet strange way, all holding our own individual worlds apart.

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments they are much appreciated. So true Jamie…some days feel like that more than others,
    John thankyou so much for your lovely comment. It was how I intended it. Generally I have the same idea as you, not to do what I am told by some automated voice (especially gps that tells you to turn left into a river) 🙂 but I always remember the voice form Flinders St Station in Melbourne, it always sounded to me like it was recorded by this lady in the 1930’s…I don’t know if they still have the same recorded voice now, but that was the trigger for the way we tend to really stand clear of any interaction with each other. It’s a shame, because even a small smile can change someones day. 🙂

  5. We are in a crowded train, tube,subway or whatever but still alone, not talking to anyone.Just like watching TV enjoying a comedy with millions,laughing together but still alone! Thoughtful poem!


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