20:30 from Stockport

by Erik Rüder

I saw Humphrey Bogart in a train station,

Crewe, three o’clock in the morning,

and he looked as faded and grey as I felt

stumbling half asleep off the late service.


When I was ushered out the doors, he was just there

by the taxi rank, leant up on a pillar, smoking,

lit up silver in passing headlights. He followed me

to the phone box, going grainier about the edges with each step


and when I’d paid my fifty pence and planned

my way home, he was no more than a faint suggestion,

a leftover image, a black-and-white echo

from a picture long past.