Friday Night Taxi

Taxi Sign
So once again another toiling
Rolling drunk wave of lost humanity
Looms large then bursts into my cab
In the same way a breaker boiling
Up from the darkness of the sea
Rolls towards cliffs and roars inside a cave.

Though seated, they are still much moved,
Driven things snarling at the man who drives,
Gunpowder stuffed inside a tin,
Human emotions pressured, shoved
Into the shells of lonely lives,
Exploding loudly in a drunken din

While I remain restrained and show
Great patience, always on a sober course
Through winding ill-lit kilometres.
Without such contrasts, what could go?
We need a wild, combustive force
To drive the piston rods through cylinders,

Force turning on the thing that turns
Force to good use and nonsense to good sense.
This is no cab – this is the soul,
All that my soul both loves and spurns,
For what is man if not the tense
Centre of things that fight against control?


I used to drive taxis Friday and Saturday nights in Sydney and later Brisbane. I was no good with radio since my knowledge of these cities was scratchy, so I picked all my fares off the street, many of them the worse for a night of excess. After you drive a few hours, you are like a batsman who has been in long enough to see the ball big as a beach ball and you take risks as a driver that you wouldn’t otherwise. I think I scared more passengers than ever scared me, racing through gaps that hardly left room for a coat of paint either side. I had no accidents, I never got mugged. I was lucky, I guess. I don’t know how safe it is now but I have more sense these days.


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