16

When I was young I used to love Michael Rosen. Don’t put mustard in the custard and lots of silly ones like that. I also remember that there was a darker poem in one of the poem compilation books set on the underground about a boy who fell between the tracks and couldn’t get back up. The train was coming and no one would help him.

Now it’s strange as I can remember a fair bit of the poem (not the name but some of the verses) and I am sure it was Michael Rosen but I can’t find the actual poem anywhere when searching using these specific terms.

Down down on the underground

They can’t see me

But I’m down between the tracks

And the train is coming

Not in the right order but they get more and more panicked as the trains lights get brighter.

I remember the picture of the poem was a tunnel with shadow grownups on the platform and train lights in the distance.

I think it was in a poem compilation so I would ideally like to find the compilation title it was included in as well as the title of the poem itself.

For reference I would have been reading this approximately 20-25 years ago, in English, in the UK.

27

This is Michael Rosen's poem "Nightmare", found in his book Mustard, custard, grumble belly and gravy, which is available to borrow on the Internet Archive:

I'm down
I'm underground

I'm down the Underground

Waiting

Waiting for a train

There's the platform
There's the lines
There's the tunnel
There's the lines.

I'll wait down there
Down between the lines
Waiting for the train
Down between the lines.
I'll climb down there
Down between the lines
and wait for the train
down there.

[...]

I'm between the lines
and the train's coming.
Can't you see?

[...]

I'm still down
Can't anyone see me
down between the lines?

[...]

image from the book

Interestingly, I found an article about Mike Rosen's visit to a school where he mentioned this very scenario as a recurring boyhood nightmare (probably, based on "I used to have") of his:

'Nightmares… do you have nightmares? I used to have one about the underground in London. I'm in the underground, down between the lines. And the platform's getting higher and coming to squeeze me. And I can see a train coming, nearer and nearer. And I'm shouting, "I'm here. Down between the lines. Can't somebody see me?"… '


This was quite a tricky one to find, since Google doesn't index this poem at all. I found the above school-visit quote by searching for variants of your phrases, such as "between the rails" or "between the lines" as well as "between the tracks". The query poem rosen "between the lines" train is coming got me to that page, but no sign of any poem on the same theme. I was about to post my answer just mentioning that school-visit story, and speculating that maybe you misremembered it as a poem. But if that really was a nightmare of his, it's plausible that he'd turn it into a poem! So I gave up on Google and searched the Internet Archive for the phrase "down between the lines", which got me to the right source finally.

  • 3
    I applaud your tenacious search skills! – Ross Presser Jan 14 at 18:35
  • 1
    Amazing - even knowing the poem name it is not easy to find online considering most Google articles point towards Michael Rosens ‘nightmare’ COVID-19 coma. I take my hat off to you! – simon_smiley Jan 14 at 20:04
  • Maybe there'll be a new nightmare poem by Rosen, this time with a different kind of tube :) – jpa Jan 16 at 10:20

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