The Terminal: Favourite Poems

Oslo, 21 

With the last of our kroner

We buy milk and biscuits

To eat cross-legged on the floor,

Like children.

Swigging from the carton

Because we have no cups.

Giggling in the half-light

Worried someone will catch us.

Because don’t you know?

Children aren’t allowed

To drink straight from the carton

To have milk AND biscuits

For dinner AND breakfast.

Children aren’t allowed

To be alone in airports

At 3m on a Tuesday:

They have school the next day

And should be in bed.

Tromsø, 18

It is already night

And an unearthly glow

Shoots skywards from

The buildings.


And Electricity

Have replaced The Sun,

Lighting the Heavens the

Wrong Way Round.

Tromsø, 28

Early morning light

At midday

Turns the snowy mountains

Into soft pastel piles of


The peaks and troughs

No more menacing

Or impressive

Than the gouged-out buckets

Of Haagen-Daaz

In Leicester Square.

Buoyed by artificial warmth

And a barrier of glass

I know I could

‘Tame the Ancient Mountain Trolls!’

“Bend the Northern Wind to My Will!’



But the Quiet Norwegians

In their sensible wool

Pay no attention.

Calling me instead

To my gate

and Home.

Heathrow, 21

On our first big trip


As Adults

Chocolate bars were more important

Than a night’s accommodation.

We fold ourselves

Into plastic chairs

Make our bodies tight envelopes

For our valuables.

All Around us,


Do the same.

Sighing and snoring and shuffling

Objects and people

Breathing as one.

Guards pace slowly,

Stare with red eyes

Stopping occasionally

Where clothes look like rags

Skin looks like coffee

Or heads are covered.

‘Oi. You.

Where’s your ticket?’

Santiago, 24

The British Man

Thinks Steve is:

‘An Old Soul’.
I think:

The British Man is

‘An Old Twit.’

But Steve is

Good and Kind

To Everyone.

The Canadian Girl

And I

Plot together

At the back of the pack.

Shoot death stares at Britain.

Talk telepathically

About his short-shorts

And his stretches

(And the combination of the two).

‘Who stretches in an Airport?’

We scream silently

Eyes tearing up with the effort.

Cork, 29 

There is nothing

More beautiful

Than my friend’s children,

Running through

Cork Airport together.
They give me

Sticky chocolate kisses

Press flushed round cheeks

Into my cool, pale hands

Throw their voices

Carelessly in the air.


They are less than 0.05%

Of the space

Of this airport.

But when they leave

The building is suddenly


Stansted, 27

I am uncertain

How cold I am.

I start

Wrapped in layers,

Each piece of skin

Coyly concealed

Each limb restrained,

Neatly tucked

Into each other

Like complex origami.

Hour by hour

I strip silently, sleepily

Releasing colour and cloth

To gently fall

In haphazard patterns

Beneath my flopping limbs.

I wake to curious stares

Not for my skin,

Suddenly exposed,

But because I’ve built

A Nest

In a place people are

In a Hurry to Leave.

Hobart, 23

The summer air is cleaner here

Cooler here

Emptier here

Here you breathe oxygen

Not smoke

Or smog

Or sweat

Or stress

Here you breathe air,

Actual air,

Which is light,

Just like the people always said.

‘As light as air.’

Florence, 27

The airport is white-hot


And the air-conditioning is


I am hung-over

(Friend’s wedding the night before)

I buy a bottle of water

As tall as my chest.

I see

An old man doubled up

On a plastic chair

And then notice more and more

A field of people

Wilting in the heat.

Cairns, 20

I think:

‘I have never felt humidity before,’

Which is silly,

Because I am 20

And live in Australia

And of course I have.

But I am 20

And prone to flights of fancy

And dramatic statements.

So, ‘I have never felt humidity before.’

The heat here is different.

Is heavy.

Is pushing against the glass that surrounds us

Using its terrible weight

To crack

And warp

And menace.

It is thick

Filling all available space

Outside you see it

Settling on people’s foreheads,

Their cheeks

Their armpits

The back of their knees

That soft spot just behind their ear lobe

And turning to moisture.


It is a temperate climate,

And I think again,

‘I have never felt humidity before.’

Minneapolis, 29

I always forget

When the Customs Officials

Ask Questions.

They are not genuinely interested

In the answers.


That’s not right.

They ARE genuinely interested

In ‘The Answers’

As Answers.

They are not genuinely interested

In Me.

As a person.

A person made up of ‘The Answers’.

Separate to ‘The Answers’.

For whom ‘The Answers’

Are not statistics,


Warning Signs,

But History,



And Life.

I can’t help feeling

In Another Time

In Another Place

This blonde boy would offer

Tea and Biscuits

A floral seat on his mother’s couch

And Some Answers of his own.

Newcastle, 14

We are a gaggle of girls

My cousin and aunts and I.

Newcastle Airport

Is one large room

And we fill it with chatter

With girly plans

Of shopping

And swimming

And more shopping

And eating

And even more shopping

And lying in the sun.

I have grown up with boys

And I’m worried.

Will I be girly enough?

Am I somehow defective?


In one store

I will choose something

And they will know instantly:

‘She’s not a real girl.’

Seattle, 28

I am hiding from people

I know

But don’t know

Around corners

Behind columns

Under books

And in music

Call my flight!


I’m no good at invisibility.

Albuquerque, 12

My Dad likes deserts.

We have come to stare at


To drive through

Endless plains of Red and Gold

Flat and unchanging.

I like the thrust of Mountain Ranges

The crispness of snow

The colour blue.

‘Dad why did we come

To stare at Deserts?

We have deserts at home.

All of home is a desert.’

‘There are deserts

And there are Deserts,’

Dad replies

His eyes bluer

Than I have ever seen them.

LA, 21

I am so thin

I am L.A. thin

I am Kate Moss thin

I am pants falling off thin

I am ‘turn to the side and I disappear’ thin

I am ‘breathe too hard and I blow away’ thin

I am ‘oh God how did you lose all that weight???!!’ thin

I am ‘didn’t have enough money to eat 3 meals a day’ thin

I have never been so thin

I have never been so happy

I have never been so worried

About putting it all back on again.

Adelaide, 14

When they last saw me,

I was 8

And my mother had died.

I am scared because Lisa is crying.
Then she explains

She isn’t really crying

Her tear duct is fault

And sometimes it fills with water

For no reason at all.

And I realise,

I wasn’t scared.

I was touched.


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