Out Of Uniform

Chris Gryce


Apocalypse now Japan 2011

The judder, the shake,
Seals Japan’s horrific fate,
14.46, local time, March 11th, 2011
This quake hit Japan,
Almost the biggest natural disaster,
To have affected man.

The magnitude 8.9 tremor,
Took place off the coast of Honshu, Japan
15,000 people now presumed dead,
And 11,000 still listed as missing,
As the International rescue services “forage” for survivors
Amongst the rubble
A precursor, perhaps of more pain and trouble?

As human life wanes,
Japan has deployed, 25,000 troops, ninety helicopters and planes,
As well as boats and divers to scour the waters
Some 12 miles off the coast,
Not some idle boast!
And in the town of Shichigahamamachi,
A line of 12 Japanese soldiers walk in unison,
Prodding the saturated earth and muddy pools with poles,
To locate bodies buried below in holes.

First the damage of the quake,
Then this monstrous grey expanse of water starts to awake,
Unstoppably, overwhelming all in its wake
Mile upon mile of damage,
Is the wave’s legacy of ravage.

As far as the eye can see,
Buildings, like cardboard are torn to shreds
Whilst shift workers sleep in their beds,
Cars, like plastic toys are thrust on roof tops
Whilst ships are swept miles inland,
Like water-sogged sops.

A woman yells the name of her missing family in a town called Soma,
The desolated, destructed landscape is eerily silent,
As if in a coma,
Another woman breaks down in tears as she finds no remains of her home,
She is all alone,
A too frequent a story in Japan’s calamitous tome.

So we had the earthquake, then the Tsunami and
Now the nuclear fallout from Japan’s ailing plants,
For the earthquake caused the pump’s electricity supply to fail,
As workers battled to save reactors to no avail
For the back-up generators had been swamped by the Tsunami.

The result, smoke pours out of this crippled facility,
As a second explosion rocks the Fukushima Diachi No. 3 reactor,
And protecting people’s health
With exclusion zones,
Becomes the critical factor.

But has Japan learnt any lessons from this disaster?
Or will it be the butt of derision and laughter?
Lesson 1: Always build Nuclear reactors on high ground.
Lesson 2: Never, ever, build by the coast.
Only time, in Japan’s case, will tell,
But already, Germany has decided “to pull the plug”
On its Nuclear Energy Expansion hell.

The Northern Line
– Homeward Bound

This Northern Line tube is homeward bound
Young people stand and sit around
From Moorgate to Golders Green
Raucous song, dance and laughter stream

Women sing, dance, clap, giggle and flirt
In trousers not skirts
Men coyly reciprocate with a smile
Oh the women have such style

Tall Rasta man and purple-hatted English girl
Cast their eyes on this convivial scene
For now the world a better place does seem

At the Gateline

Boredom and monotony are my
Well acquainted friends,
As I at the Gateline passenger tickets ‘mend.’

Customers generally are honest and polite,
While I upon their tickets alight,
May I see your ticket Madam/Sir,
As those gates ‘hum and whirr’.

Father and daughter slipstream
Through the gates together,
Dad, can I see your ticket now or never
He hurls obscenities at me,
The worst of humankind maybe?

Some passengers gingerly place their tickets in the slot,
Fearful that the gate machine could ‘gobble’ the lot,
Others are in such a hurry,
That their ticket ‘shivers’ from the worry!

Love in the ticket hall area,
Young couples, giggle embrace and kiss
A sight bored eyes do not miss,
I come across this brown haired young lady,
With a query,
And I but weary,
Notice the multiple silver rings on her finger.
Can I see those rings I politely enquire,
As a gradual smile belies her initial ire.

Young person under train.
Chalk Farm to Golders Green

It ain’t half a laarf
To mess around,
But body parts trackside
Might later be found.

Platforms and trains are
Dangerous places.
No place for fights or races
Keep away from train doors,
Headwall tunnels and track floors.

Narrow tunnels and fast moving trains
Aren’t a game,
For accidents cause pain
And Death the unexpected gain
As families grieve young lives
Prematurely on the wane

Assistance window

My name is Station Assistant YEMI
Of cares, I don’t have any,
I’m rostered at Old Street,
Keeping the Ticket Office staff sweet,
Barrier to Ticket Office
You’ve got someone at the Assistance Window,
Thank you

Dedicated, full-time Station Assistant am I
Coping with all passenger problems and whys
My ticket’s got stuck in the gate,
Yes, Sir/Madame – please wait,
I’ll rescue your ticket
But opening these gates,
Is something I hate.

Making radio announcements
Imparting information in clear pronouncements,
Barrier to base,
Please help me save face,
Customer this…Customer that…

Chris's Profile

Profile picture

I am an ex special need teacher who left teaching in 1991 after developing ‘burn out’. I had a succession of different jobs: retail and homecare work (visiting elderly and disabled people in their own homes to offer support). This was followed by my drifting in to work for London Underground as a Customer Service Assistant.

I like people and am an avid "people watcher", hence my LUL and  Social Comment poetry.

Although many of my poems are to do with the Underground and working as a  Customer Service Assistant- others are political or about major events in the media.

I first started writing LUL poems in 2001 in a tatty notebook while on draughty corridor duty at Old Street. My job was to divert passenger traffic along this corridor as one of the escalators was being refurbished. In between the arrival of trains I had a small time window of about 3 minutes to let poetic juices flow.

Chris reads a selection of his poems from the opening night of 'Out of Uniform'

Contact Chris Gryce

Email: Cgryce@aol.com