observations on sardines for breakfast and the tramp i meet on the train home.

Sardines  (edited 11th December 2020)


Sardines, furst bite of the morning,

on toast, dripping in butter –

there is nothing better –

first of the fartsome mourn

hotlipped bread soaked in futter

add baked beans – organic of course –

and i can say there is nothing better.


add a bowl of porridge – and juice,

i forgot to say pineapple juice: O’s like me,

you should know, can’t mix citrus and dairy products,

so just the prickly parted’s thick sweet stuff –

boiled seven minutes with sultanas and almonds,

constantly stirred: never let it burn –

add dates and prunes if you absolutely must –

then served with a chill of rice milk for those

depleted, deficient in the sugar department.


Sardine smell conjures up this tramp,

meet him on the train coming home,

the circle line from Moorgate up,

personal space stiffly staked around,

spread out on the seats, sardine can

open beside him, a bread loaf

unsliced, one face buttered, untouched

and a knapkin containing salt,

thick sea crystals, the same i use –

beggars belief! Kinned he and i:

the stench of the street he does not carry,

pinned to his lapel a badge writes ‘Harry’;

his face is lined with a weariness

only those many fettered confess –

the office man, the long houred man,

pictures of his children pinned

upon his cubicle walls,

his wife’s smile strained from the camera

to haunt his days, remind him

of past lives, shared personal goals

both once conspired to one day achieve.


As far as Farringdon i pipe

then slide out – have to cross over –

leaving behind the sardine smell,

“Harry”, head hunched, slowly swinging

between jerking sleep, the motion

of the train threatening the order

of his meal, his body riding

the bend, the brake and roll, floating

past through the tunnel from my view

throat whetted for the evening.


I write a note for the Filipino:

“Only sardines in olive oil, please.”

© Bhi 2023
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Hi, Bhi. This is a strange one, isn’t it… but enjoyable nonetheless. I had a chuckle. It has a dreamlike quality to me. It also leaves me wondering who is ‘O’ and who is the Filipino? One and the same? (I agree, by the way: Only sardines in olive oil, I’m not keen on the tomato variety.)
Allen 🙂


Inspiration from the smell of sardines. Slice of life verse seems to say there be you if the wrong turn happens. Nicely done.


Sardines for breakfast, not my cup of tea. Love sardines though. Did you know that sardines as a species don’t exist. It’s a general term for small fish apparently. A sardine from South Africa will be a different species from a sardine from Spain for example. You do get some odd characters on the tube. I used to like travelling on the tube at quiet times of the day, you see some peculiar folks, but I would not want to used the tube late at night these days. I wrote a story about a human subspecies living in abandoned tube… Read more »

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