And there are no seats left

My train was full tonight so I sat on the platform bench and wrote this prose.

My nightly train journey home was once a joy
It was express, fast and comfortable
Every night the regular chaps
The paper tucked under their arm, colleagues joking
We all recognised each other, not by name so much
More familiar nod or hello
And we all had our usual seats

The seats used to be numbered in fact
An old timer once told me you could book a numbered seat
It was the country train then
And the nightly train journey was a joy

But then someone heralded ‘multiculturalism’
Whitlam and Fraser opened the flood gates
Millions from all walks of life arrived in my lucky country
Prices went up, houses went up, costs went up
The city grew and grew and grew
New languages, new cultures, new babies, all welcomed with open arms

And we were tolerant and accepting
But they kept coming and coming
Jamming the city

And now my train is full of ethnics
Strangers from foreign lands
They come from crowded countries
They take the seats first
They’re used to jostling in crowds
My slow swagger is no match

I arrive at the station at the usual time
With ten minutes to spare to get my seat
My train is there. It starts from there
A familiar friend

With case in hand I step aboard
Lots of dark shiny-haired folk
Strange languages spoken amongst themselves
Not a familiar face in sight, not like the old days
And there’s none seat left
These folk are sitting in the aisles like back home
Next carriage is just as full
And there’s no seats left

My journey of two hours is too far to stand
So I withdraw from the carriage
I withdraw from my journey home
I withdraw. I can’t change this

I wait on the platform
I take a seat to wait for the next train
Another half hour added to my journey
I watch my train leave with out me, crowded to the gunwales

The foreigners we let in have taken over my train
They got their seats first, I came later
But I was here first, they came later
This is my country, my birth place, my ancestors’ home
Doesn’t seem right
What’s the gov’ment done?

I board the next train
I get a seat
T’is late and I’m tired
My train fills with ethnics
My train now stops to pick up more
It’s cramped and slow
And there are no seats left

It’s no longer express
It’s no longer familiar
No longer the joy
I see the changes in the streets and shops
I can’t read the signs

I see the changes at work
My work is full of ethnics
And I’ll front to work one day to find
There are no seats left

They push and insist with their new rights
But they have more rights
If I speak out, they cry ‘discrimination’
What about us locals, displaced in our own home?

This feels like intrusion, dare I say invasion
No one asked me if their millions could take over
I didn’t see the signs
Was I too tolerant?
I shouldn’t have given up my seat

Thank God I’m not Aboriginal, poor bastards.

JM, 6pm train at Central Station, 30th March 2010