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The poem describes 'Mr Retro' (the poet's alter ego) in a state of unease because he has boarded a train in Carlton without buying a ticket as the ticket-counter was shut and he finds the machine too daunting to use. As he reads his book nervously he sees its reflection in the darkened window, and the reflected, reversed words strike him as being 'hieroglify życia', hieroglyphics capturing life's meaning.