Bus Poems

Your Story

I met you on Route 18.
It was the ugly morning
two after my Mick’s ashes
were put besides his father
and his son’s bodies.

You could see that
I was willing to listen to just about anything
that was not my vacant body
colliding with each bump
in the road and swerve of the transit.

This is the route to his house.
The one I took every weekend I could get off
from the butcher shop in the grocery store in town.
This is the last time I am ever taking this bus.
You see that I am clutching an acoustic
in a flailing black coffin.
Like it is all I ever had.

You start telling me about your quest.
To bring Home Hardware to its knees.
They stole your idea,
your patent pending,
for an apparatus that is both
tape measure and magnifying glass and level.

They stole it right from under you,
and you didn’t care what stood in your way,
you were getting it back.

I thought about the windshield wiper guy,
and that movie that I think only robots
don’t tear up watching,
especially when you told me

how your wife left
and your kids were all grown up
and nobody was on your side
but you were gonna spend your days
making that corporation pay.

It wasn’t the money, either.
It was the truth.
You wanted the world to know
so you had the paper
write an article and you made copies of it.

You let me tell you about the guitar,
and how it was a piece of crap,
truly beyond repair, no strings, warped.
Mick had told me to take it one day last spring,
and it was that ugly day,
when his remaining children,
puffed chests and dry eyes,
had left the wake to go hear the will called out.

When I was told I was not to be their
upon their return, I left.
I left the crowd who
didn’t know my grandfather,
not the way I did.
Not as friend.

I walked past his house.
I finished my 6th beer.
I opened his pickup because
he never locked it.
And I turned it on and
put in the Johnny Cash cd
I had burned for him
a few years back,
when anything that impressed him
I did with a son’s joy.

I wept a little. I cried some more.
I got out with a mission.
I would go into his house
that was never locked, one more time
and I would take my guitar.
My useless, weak instrument.

And I would learn to play
Silver Haired Daddy on it.
It was a song he had cried to many nights
when telling me his own father’s story.

You, Windshield Wiper Man,
you had to ask then, why was I returning
the guitar in its tattered vessel now?
And so I told it true.

His children had called the police.
They had told them I had broken in,
like some criminal, and stolen the only thing
I had left with.

Something he had given me.

So the officer had forced me
to either return it,
or face charges.
It was only right.

Then, you looked at me,
and we shared that moment,
that realization we had both
been put on quests that were
about more than money.
More than family.

Truth.

I told it all then.
How his children had become suspicious when
I started spending time with Mick.

How they had flown in from the West Coast
most having avoided any contact with him,
unless he was buying them condos.

They had learned to roll
their eyes in every language
when he got a few drinks in
and started to tell a familiar story.

And I was suspect.
Because I was interested
in every one of them.

That was when you looked at me,
strange man on a strange quest,
and you said that
no matter what they did
they knew they would never get his
love or respect
not like I had,
and that was all they could do,
was try to take everything else,
even a broken guitar.

You told me
“your story is his story”
and nobody will take that away.
Nobody can.

Then you got off at your stop,
heading toward that massive
Home Hardware.
They were gonna hear from you.
Until you ran out of time.

Eulogy for a Labtop

I Give You, A Laptop Eulogy

She was drawn from the earth
in silver and copper first.

Even some really crazy shit.
Like stuff entire continents
suffer through conflict’s over.

She is born of cultural impropriety,
and she is born of the Vaio-Sony Corp.

She has cradled over 100,000 movies and audio files
yearly now, but once she was just the cold,
precise sum of her factory-slid-into-place parts.

I got her in my place,
and she was ready to go.
I filled her up with every
piece of media we could raise.

She taught me all about feminism too
so don’t get bunched in your Haynes.

That shit is just year 4
so we have to behave.

My vaio deserves a full send off, ok?
So where were we oh yes, the first days…

How they went on and on,
I left you on all night a couple,
I fell asleep with you once
in the bed and woke up to you
screen-down, left to what I thought
might have been choked on your own bits,
face down though I re-lifted and
breath of button flicked you came out of it,
you were a champ even then in the
early virgin years, you know that Vaio?

Year two I, like all pc-men, got sloppy with how I treated you,
and we had our moments, a couple reformats if you don’t recall?
(hahaha get it Vaio-la? Because your memory was wiped and all?)

Oh fuck it, by year three we settled
in again like that was all nothing,
and we have some recovery discs now just in case,
right my little digital honey bunny?

Year four and I count every
day we still have as blessed,
we’re like Deckard and replicant
played by Sean Young, heading West!
Maybe we’ll freeze you awhile
and make a 7 year stretch?

What all I can I will do, to postpone your cyber-death
to this alone I pledge.

My (V)aiolo!
(insert Perry Ferrel reference here)

Poem for the Harvey Danger song, “Radio Silence”

I don’t know that I am anything
but a Frankenstein robot, poet model,
a heart made of sound bytes
and those parts of speech
from my better friends and loves.

I don’t know that I’m not doomed
to be like
“the lo-o-o-oonie up in Togus”

I’m afraid not of patterns in the
program or the walls, but the
Dead Literary floor that’s turned
your average neighborhood underground
into a snotty man’s hyper-ceiling.

I think it’s a little demeaning to
expect your audience to know what
you’ve been feeling when it’s
layered so heavy beneath
your “intensity” which I think
we can easily ascertain as just
some assumption of superior rank

in a non-existent illuminati
of time immemorial. You think you
have the prose of an aural aurora borealis?

Maybe so, but what’s its function aside
from your peers and a few couture critics?

I link my day to a page and afterwards,
scour with most basic set of senses,
my surroundings Are the next sentence,
line, next moment, next kiss, write, next,
dream, write wake next, sip cackle groan vent, next,
write, next.
and it just goes on like this.

If you like dj Bl3nd maybe
you’ll like my schizoid-script.

I beat the beat beaten until
Broke, and beaten, got out-spoken
and beat the silence back that beat him!

Let us beat the wool
with universal words
like Ya Basta!

And while the inner circle
of finely crafted naval gazing
fills in the required allotment
to be considered a kind of
crafty craftsmen,
help the others row the
Drunken Boat ashore.

“I get out of bed like Rimbaud,”

(Anything else you pay more)

The new words will be spoken
and will resound with a bored thud,

A Shock-Shock-Shock you
(Yeah-Yeah-Yeah)
when you see they’re just
the same primary colors’.

Poem in the Key of Shadow

I call him my pharmacological doppelganger.
He is the me I would have certainly been,
had I not jumped from the rooftops of my own
semi-serious conditions, to the streets of our
hand written to chalky wall poems.

I call him the one I am glad to have avoided,
the one whose parents must have cared so much
they made too great a movement toward the shelves

at the behest of all the recent (best selling) authors,
and got him all plump on the pills, all pale and low-pulse,
distant and dreary. He peak’s at you, a puppy under a blanket

of hoodies for bands he’ll never get a chance to see live,
and from the perforated palace of a hundred Star Wars
side-quest novels that keep his imagination resuscitating
before being re-submerged, over, and over and over.

But he avoided all the bad trips, and all the near-od’s.
He doesn’t have a single scar on him.
He’s the perfect model for how it pays to plug

the heart up and batten down the eye-lashes with
sleepy time pills and hell, what was this world going
to do with a quiet, shy type but turn him into the new
poster child for disaffection anyway?

There aren’t enough Nirvana albums yet?
We haven’t lost enough of the pumping heart of
Eliot Smith? Does Buckley wash up again?

The cure for life is quiet. It will always look
better on paper and in theory. If there is any problem
with him now, it’s the “solutions” effect.

Cue theme of The Twilight Zone. PS,
I call him my shadow.

Strangers Follow Us

We are the haunted few still
undistracted entirely by screen
or pandemonium or dance, and the
stranger’s have always followed us.

This bus I was on once was
overrun with their
loud, obese stories and I
could do nothing to avoid our
imminent collision.

On my left was a young girl and
her “old man”. They
were some of the first junkies
I ever met. I was intrigued, but
wary also. I wouldn’t be taken
on my first trip out West.

I had months of notebooks and
all intents to make my mettle as per
that great Ontarian ritual-voyage
to BC. I would smoke weed and
write of all the things done wrong
by the world to the artist.

I was basically full of shit and
sure of its value to the world.

These two were heading out of
a long haul doing rehab for family
members piece of mind, all the time
planning their Bonnie & Clyde escape.

I ended up seeing them on the streets
periodically as I job hopped like some
come from away or illegal, barely keeping
some jobs long enough to take a second pay.

Behind me and junk row
was a strange solitary girl
dressed in a mix of rag and garbage bag
and patches of herself seemingly just
flesh with marker or paint.

She became if you haven’t guessed yet,
an early lesson in the unpredictability
of cross country busing,
to this younger, yours truly.

Somewhere between the beginning and
the long anticipated end of the prairies,
it started:

a noise so jarring and yet unmistakable
no matter how inexplicable it seemed,
began to emanate from the last row of
the slow going people’s Greyhound,

like a roll of tape being constantly ripped
off about 4 feet of itself at a time in well
timed, 5-8 second intervals, for at least
a half an hour although it could’ve been longer.

I slowly peeped my head up and looked
to see what was going on, since others
ahead were doing the same to me .

And there she was. Taping up her feet and
upper leg. By now she had socks of tape.
Teen junky’s Old Man got up and threatened

her, I want to say with a knife but I think he just
smelled bad and go close to me and I code him
as more harmful, more foul than he really was.
I do remember clearly the way he said. Each. Word.

“If.You.Pull.Another.Strand.Off-”

And I remember how the bus driver,
stirred to action by the Jerry Springer Show
brewing on his back rows, pulled off to the side
of the road somewhere just outside Canmore
and, making his way past each now spellbound

and rubber necked passenger, found and for some
reason I still don’t quite understand, assumed
we were all together; the greasers and the socials

and me, a young bullshit scribe, now admittedly a
little petrified at the prospect of being left in a strange
and uncertain land with such savages. I had to make it
out west, I couldn’t let it end like this.

“I have no idea who this nut bag or these
Freaks are Sir! I’m not with them!”

“I don’t give a shit, all of you make
me stop the bus again, you’re all out.”

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.
I stayed awake in fear of reprisals against me,
besides who wants nightmares of being tied
up in tape and poked with needles when you can
scribble your first poems on British Columbian soil,

off to find some new strangers to pry another
poem from.

The People on the Bus

The people on the bus
(go to hell in a hand basket fast without
social customs in place).

(aka “welcome to Thunderdome, bitch”)

No matter how far we come as people,
the public transit experience will always
feel cold, like communism in Western movies,
or like penal institution transport crossed with
a ship of fools motif. For me however, it’s an
essential tool in understanding human behaviour
(and its lack therein when it occasions).

The best time to people watch is
the morning or late night, when
the world of the worker is worn
away like reality TV 5 years ago
and people really get their zombie
looking selves into half-sleep states.

There are a variety of styles of bus rider.
Each reflects a persona in society.
There’s the tough guy/asshole.
He’s easy to spot since he’s the only of the
Male species who will sit next to a woman
when seats next to other men are available.
In some cases such behaviour is accepted- a
bar for example. Not on the long haul that is
the metro though, no my track suit friend, best
to flip that Monster Energy (death) drink ball hat
around, take those Ridiculous tri-colored sunglasses
commemorating the 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays franchise
off, and just stand the fuck off to the side as you likely
will in other forums in life im sure until an early
death by some random douchbaggery or other.
(My guess is robbing a gas bar, who knows!)

Stuck next to him was the lady who sits as little
As possible but rather tries to hover on her ass cheeks,
and almost appears fearful of the physical bus itself
as well as our resident asshole. She’s not a lifetime rider
like him either, usually she finds someone or becomes
a driver herself.

Next you have students. Most of those are texting,
a few still read. Fewer are weirdo’s watching the rest,
like me, for non-sexualized purposes (those lot tend
to fall under the Blue Jay 93 douchebag from earlier).

Then you have a few workers, and some people running on
fewer pistons than the general “norm”, your rockers,
your cursers your rocking cursing singers, all living it up
like they just don’t give a fuck, next to them, the skeets
and the slags, the skanks and the hags, and all that glitters between.

You have a few young parents, a lot more young mothers,
the occasional Clergy or Sister, people too injured to drive,
too poor, people too drunk and (or) too high. It’s a veritable
smorgasbord of life! As a cheap student-writer of cheaper
writing still, I really can’t fathom wanting to leave the living
Opera some call “the welfare wagon” others the “losermobile”.

But I think that’s mostly peoples
pride making them feel they need to qualify their
existences as more than the rat race they are
jammed into (just like anyone on that bus) and there
is nothing that’s going to change it – no ride,
no sweet, sweet ride will ever change that.

And you KNOW what Marcellus Wallace has told us of Pride?

“The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting.
That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
Pulp Fiction, 1997