Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss

A Poem by Norman223

Having my first journey on the London Underground ( = subway ) after 50 years of rural life.



Crammed inside the serpent’s belly

Swaying in the noise and heat.

 Assailed with other’s halitosis,

 And someone treading on my feet.

 With a roar, the beast emerges

From the darkness into light.

 I breathe a sigh of expectation

 As the lucky ones prepare for flight.


I seize my chance, and thankfully seated

Collapse in a seat, but then I’m greeted

 With swaying straphangers’ withering looks

 As they dangle like meat on butcher’s hooks.

 Then the doors slide close with a hydraulic hiss

And a pair of teenagers start to fondle and kiss.

 I divert my gaze and encounter an ad.

 Displaying the charms of a scantily clad

Lady with a come-hither entreaty

That I should purchase ........ but it’s lost in graffiti.


I then feel my conscience become more acute as

I observe the plight of my fellow commuters,

 Some with varicosed legs, some with cramp in their toes,

 And there’s one with a sniff and a drip on his nose

But - before a feeling of guilt makes me rise

To offer my seat -I close my eyes.

 The monotonous rattle and poor ventilation

 Sends me to to sleep between every station.


Then it’s mine - and I try to rush to the door

But the wall of humans I’ve tried to ignore

 Are now forced into a greater compression

By a further seemingly senseless procession

 Of sweating humanity, quick to disparage

The electronic sign to “Move down the carriage”

 I reach the door with a seconds to spare

And thankfully take in large gulps of fresh air.

 But my relief is short-lived as I leave the train

 For in a few hours, I’ll be on it again.


© 2019 Norman223

My Review

Would you like to review this Poem?
Login | Register


'Into the Abyss'
My husband, Tim and myself have taken advantage of public transportation periodically and sometimes it has been very close to your descriptions above. Very cool the way you describe the bus or train as 'the serpent's belly.' That does fit in this writing. At first I thought; 'Is he speaking of the story of Jonah?' Very creative way to poetize the experience of using the transportation system..Couldn't help but smile.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago

I feel for you. I have never riden in a subway. Planes, trains, automobiles, bikes and horses, but never that.

Awesome and powerful description of something I'll be glad to miss.

Posted 1 Month Ago

I can only imagine how you were feeling after 50 years living the quiet life in the country. Your detailed descriptions and tongue in cheek humor add a special touch and make this write a delight to read and so very relatable. I will definitely be thinking of it the next time I ride a subway which, by the way might be almost as many years down the road :-)

Posted 1 Month Ago

This is brilliant! Wow! I'm sorry I missed finding it here, since I've been sketchy in recent weeks! This is great storytelling, great wordplay, and your sassy attitude is on full blast! "dangling meat on hooks" -- vivid imagery we all wish we could think of! "hydraulic hiss" -- love the alliteration & onomatapea (or however you spell that!) Your storytelling is nicely paced to actually feel like the experience you describe! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Month Ago

' greeted - With swaying straphangers’ withering looks - As they dangle like meat on butcher’s hooks. -
Then the doors slide close with a hydraulic hiss - And a pair of teenagers start to fondle and kiss. ' I divert my gaze and .. '

Like you, rarely move into cities, least of the London Underground.. tis my idea of hell! But, oh my, what a piece of wonderfully visual writing this is... don't know whether to weep or laugh or curl up with a prayer book begging never to have the need to leave my idyll!

Your phrasing, your sights and sounds.. the way you convert reality by turning words inside and out and make them neat.. is super incredible. ' .Crammed inside the serpent’s belly - Swaying in the noise and heat.- Assailed with other’s halitosis, - And someone treading on my feet. = With a roar,. '

This post is a piece de resistance - and one to be read and re-read then .. treasured..

Posted 1 Month Ago

When I was your title Norman I thought 'Boris' but I was wrong. As usual your description of this tube trip is brilliantly observed and full of humour. It's not something I'm too fussy about myself but I notice that some verses rhyme perfectly and others dont but could easily be tweaked. Just an observation but I really enjoyed this.

Posted 2 Months Ago

ahahaha great read for me Norman ... i went to NYC once long ago and most likely rode the "Serpent" ..but I was to young to recall ... i felt your protagonist start to .... well a continuing stop ... especially enjoyed the meat hook hangers ... halitosis inhalations and the every present scantily clad with graffiti .. well done says i! though i live even further out in the boodocks and have not lived in the "big" city .. i feel like i have .. enjoyed the rhyming and cadence ... pretty smooth for the most part says i! love the humor and sarcasm!

Posted 2 Months Ago

Sounds like something of a culture clash. Very lively picture of big city public transportation. Didn't know whether to laugh or extend condolences.

Posted 4 Months Ago

oh my, Norman....i can so relate to this poem...I have never been in London or England ever...but as a kid i so often rode on the subway in the Bronx....and my dad would probably have related even more to this poem...he took the subway to and from work every day...people packed like sardines, yes, yes yes. Great description here....and what if I refuse to "move on down the carriage"?

Posted 4 Months Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


9 Reviews
Added on June 21, 2019
Last Updated on June 21, 2019



Essex UK, United Kingdom

Now approaching the age of 88 I enjoy writing as an optimistic exercise in keeping senility at bay, for I now accept old age as being unavoidable. Basically,although a fairly serious person, I prefe.. more..


Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..

He will be... He will be...

A Poem by Gee

StarLight Poem StarLight Poem

A Chapter by Shep