Saturday, 4 August 2012

Bus notes 13

The young white man with the Yankees cap, 
bladdered, crawled on close to Tipton.
Now he slumps and drunk sleeps
near Galton Bridge.
        Off from his shift, a new face
        clocks the space no one would claim,
        shakes a shoulder and berates him
        between English
        and Punjabi (for the punters)
but he stays dead to everything
as the laughter catches almost all of us
with such ready collusion.
        Just by the temple the Sikh driver stops,
        walks up to them and pushes the lad
        toward the window.
Then he takes his short haired brother
(the Kara’s the main give away)
and with elegant force presses him down
to the seat beside him.
        For however long the pissed kid will not fall.


  1. Gradually begins to emerge in this series (perhaps most clearly to date, here) the image of a knowable community represented in the accidental social bond of the public transit, with the speaker of the poem as its moral voice.

    That is enviable from this distance. Here there is no element of community represented on the night buses, beyond that implicit, palpable (and almost universally denied) collective and common destiny hanging in the stale chill air, the End of the Line.

    They've inexplicably and without warning (and at great inconvenience to us) now moved the closest stop some half a mile further off, due to a putative city works project. Nostalgia for industry. The one time I dared the streets at the weekend, the last bus was 105 minutes late, and there was a shivering midnight wind, and across the avenue a drunken or perhaps insane young man was walking unnoticed across the top of the arcade of a disused goods store.

  2. It is still a good service here, but the cost is rising. At least, with most alterations, they give good notice.

    I'm very glad that the possibility of community can be discerned in these poems. It isn't something I expected to show up, but it's undoubtedly there.

    Even as the last bus of the evening makes its way to the terminus, there will still be occasional tendernesses, lovely, dying lights to see.