Tag Archives: bus

Osama Bin Laden on the Bus

The bus driver smiles hugely as I climb onto the bus.
“How’s your husband?” I ask. “Oh, he’s fine, thank you for asking,”
she replies. “That’s good, we were a bit worried about you.”
I sit near the sweet-voiced woman, but she’s reading again,
another book by McCall Smith. Instead I start chatting
with the retired Navy vet. The bus passes the Temple.
The wall was painted with a quote (“Hate cannot drive out hate:
only love can do that”) but it has been defaced again.
The vet tells me last night she was watching television,
that show with the strange guy, the one about firing people,
who is he? Oh, yes, Trump. She really wanted to see who
got fired, but the show was interrupted by a news cast.
“Did you know Osama bin Laden was killed?” she demands.
My jaw drops. “No! Really?” “Yep,” she says, “Navy Seals got him.”
The mild-voiced man in the next seat over comments, “Ding, dong,
the witch is dead. That’s all I have to say.” The grizzled man
wearing Army Surplus barks, “What took so long?” In the back
of the bus, someone I can’t see cheers. “It’s embarrassing,”
murmurs the small woman beside me. “It makes us all look
like blood-thirsty barbarians.” She shakes her head sadly.
The Navy vet looks wistful, “I really wanted to see
who was fired.” That night, taking the bus home, the Temple wall
has been repaired, again saying, “Hate cannot drive out hate … ”

Erosion of Self

Spend twenty years deciding who you are without knowing it.
Get a job, have kids, make jokes about who you’ll be when grown up.
Then one day, you think you’re seeing the doctor for nothing big
(your blood pressure’s too high or low, need to tweak your asthma drugs,
it’s “The Change of Life,” or heck, you’re just getting old, darn it),
and it starts. Confusion, forgetfulness, mood changes, and worse,
your hands shake sometimes (“guess I need some coffee!”), you’ve got a twitch.
Then you realize you don’t recognize yourself. “Damn pills,” you curse,
but that’s the good news, if you see it. You can change or stop pills,
but some folk find the twitch or tremor persists, their nerves cross-wired.
The guy on the bus this morning, unable to just be still,
drummed his foot on the floor, not looking, trying to stop, so tired,
but when he drew his foot underneath, it crept back out in front
and drummed again, his rhythm an unwilling dance: pause, movement.

Erosion of Loneliness

Riding the same bus at the same time, I see the same people,
at least most days. The tiny frail white-haired lady usually
sits facing me, on the other 3-person seat, but today
she smiles brightly and carefully sits across both of the two
remaining seats on my bench. Odd, I think, while reading my book.
A few minutes later, a gentleman slowly climbs on board
with his cane, asking courteously, “May I squeeze in here?”
She scoots a couple inches over, closer to me, leaving
a generous gap between us, then smiles and replies, “Of course!
Squeeze away. After all, none of us get enough of that, eh?”
I can hear the blush in her voice. “No, none of us do, do we?”
he replies, smiling. She smiles back. I can’t see it, but I know
anyway. Their shy conversation floats past, filled with awkward
hopeful gaps. I smile, too, studiously reading my thin book.

The Erosion of Confidence

“Does this bus go to Kroger?” I look up from my book. “No.”
Roughly my age, the slender man has a thick accent,
sturdy clothes the color of mustard, a grey cloche,
and a deeply lined face. He nods, tired, but intent.
“Does this bus go to Kroger?” “No,” I repeat, “it doesn’t.”
“Oh.” He glances down. “Does this bus go to Meijer’s?”
“No.” “Oh.” He cups his hands in his lap, patient.
A block later, he repeats, “Does this bus go to Kroger?”,
pauses, then adds, “You see?” and shows me a paper,
his prescription. He tries to pass it to me, but,
embarrassed, I don’t take it. “If you need a drug store,
there is one on the corner here. See?” I point.
He looks, obedient. “Get off at this next stop,” I add,
as I do so. He nods. The bus drives on. I watch, sad.

Creation of Dreams

Oh, no, not sissy dreams of what you wish
or what you want to be when you grow up,
no strategy for making ‘dreams’ come true.
Not the fears that itch & shiver in our skin.
Just ordinary plain vanilla dreams
(if any of the nightly concoctions
our brains cook up could ever be called “plain”),
or the dizzying disorienting
paths our minds wander when we aren’t looking
that pop like bubbles when we snap alert,
leaving only the faintest chill sprinkling
that quickly dries, or a faint scent that fades.
All the hard work our brains do while we sleep,
trying to assemble meaning, structure
and link the gathered fragments we rolled through,
stitching them like quilts to hold the layers
together, or perhaps some more fragile
metaphor. In the morning, I’m muddled
riding the bus, and wishing I was still
asleep. Looking out the windows, watching
very simply — what is familiar, what
is not. The ribs of the bridge at dawn strip
light and shadow like torn fabric, create
rhythms that bump along my brain’s ridges,
creating a sensory cavalcade,
memories escorted by eyes into
jumbled juxtapositions, strange puzzles.
The knotting network of nerves stretches out,
nudges the delicate dendrites that nose
from cell to cell blindly, tasting their way,
triggering a blip here, a sizzle there,
an ache, a bruise, bewilderment, old friends
familiar though you’ve never met before,
chatter, colors — stuttering chemicals’
curious cascading kaleidoscope.

end of the day

end of the day,
big-bellied man
waits for the bus,

shoulders leaning
against the wall,
eyes closed, eyes closed,
lips loose, relaxed.

as I come close
lids crack open,
nothing else moves;
as I walk past

his fatigue sinks
a line in me —
I can feel it
as I slow, drift.

Suburban Beach

Waiting for the bus
everything is sound
although no one talks.
Cars make waves with wheels —
softly shushing sounds
rising & falling,
attack & decay
patterns overlap
with staggered distance
between autos,
cresting & ebbing
in shifting rhythms
if they approach from
the left or the right;
shifts in tone depend
on the vehicle —
size, wheel base, tire threads.
A quarter ton truck
wheezes & rattles
faintly, embarrassed
by its lone loose screw.
The woman by me
turns her book’s pages
with thick fingered gloves.
To the other side
a man’s wary eyes
flicker & dart, while
a redwinged blackbird
complains of the cold.