Thursday, January 09, 2014

On The Bus

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

heavy, dark, cold
my gloves in my pocket, roughing it
pack filled with groceries
cuts into my shoulders
at the traffic light
watch my bus sweep through
stop two long blocks away
the light turns, trudge onward
bus stop’s concrete floor holds
dried, spilled food from last summer, old spit stains
ground out who knows what
tobacco ends
lit Plexiglas backdrop, bench
but sharp-eyed, plump man
trio of strange, quiet people
one’s mouth shielded behind hospital mask
reason to keep walking
on into darkness
edgy, taking the risk
though it’s just after 6:00
in winter’s dark twilight
night’s wolf roams
watching the shadows
yet relishing harsh night
I reach the next stop
pull pack from tender shoulders
sink onto the bench
another thirty minutes to wait
silence challenged by
scarecrow in a blanket and jeans
eyes of a lost boy, needs a meal
cold, needs to be held
been sleeping outside
my voice too harsh
“I have nothing, nothing to give!”
He walks on
relieved, I wait the half hour
my tears regret my defensiveness
yes, it was dangerous
cold, dark, and he was wandering
alone with just a blanket


—Ann Wehrman

dusty pines intersperse with deciduous trees
plump new leaves like a fat boy’s lips
fringe the blacktop’s wide circle
I remember my childhood in Illinois
trees’ changes marked the seasons
leaves blazing in autumn—winter’s stark, black bark
all over pale-green fuzzy behind spring’s drizzle
summer shade long in hot, humid afternoons

I’d forgotten that richness
as I lay, long abandoned, on the coast
in a fairy’s bower
redwoods unchanging, eternal
rainforest wet and green year-round
fog blowing in, mysterious sea ions

inland once more, the trees here
mark the seasons
at my feet, crumpled litter
cigarette butts peek from tender yellow leaves, fallen
slick-haired frat boys thunder by
in a shiny red convertible

custard puff cumulus, heavy with gray
ride cool, pre-rain breezes
silent, straggle-haired lady haunts
the tree-lined groves
covered bus-stop benches
sidles by the edge of the grape arbor
its trellises interwoven with sweet blossoms
nursing fat, drunken bumblebees

where does she sleep at night
when it rains

(prev. pub. in Cosumnes River Journal, 2009)


—Ann Wehrman

Dark, suspicious eyes, dark hair,
full uniform and cap.
Drives the bus like a weapon,
surely never got a fair chance,
father more than likely beat him.

Has me sized up: college girl, uppity.
Whips his giant bus around corners,
throws me off guard.

When I ride his bus, I doubt
I’m on the right route,
though I checked the sign upon boarding.

He knows where I get off,
drives to my stop full throttle,
jerks to a halt just in time to knock me
against the flint-hard stranger next to me,
another dark, silent, faceless youth—
furious, I make my way to the aisle,
out the back door.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs

Planted at the bus stop, she spills far past
the sack of her body: all boundaries

are missing.  Long, loose hair melts
into looser clothes, and children dangle

from here and there on the comfortable
heap of her, climbing goat-like over

her crags and crannies.  Even her attention
spreads wide, stopping to laugh mid-

scold.  A huge purse sprawls
sideways over the bench: a hairbrush

tries to crawl away from its impossible
job.  If she died right here,

careful cops would chalk around
the mound of her, but the real outline

would stretch far into the universe. . .


—Caschwa, Sacramento

That is what he is paid to do
And he gives it his best effort
Which is most commendable

However that MSRP has taken
A back seat to the real driver:
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

What is the MSRP for scripture,
Or a baby, or an act of kindness?
There are so many values that

Transcend quantifiable prices
Which by nature are wholly
Artificial, man-made, suspicious

When the dealer shows you the
MSRP on that V-8 ask him,
And what is the price of honesty?


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

From the little boy’s front gate, your dog
trailed down the road a hundred yards,
paused by the tiny wooden shack where kids
wait for the bus in bad weather; then she
headed out to the county road. Seven miles
later, still trotting toward town, your boots
coming down hard on pavement—at last
the sheriff’s radio called you back, the boy
was found: at home, hiding in the cellar.
Your dog was following his bus-ride route
to school, where yesterday the teacher
chastised him for too loud singing. Your
dog was right, but wrong. Why didn’t they
let her search the house? Seven miles
running pavement—your knees were
shot. That school-bus route is easy,
if you’re on the bus.


Today's LittleNip:

—Amy Lowell

O you,
Who came upon me once
Stretched under apple-trees just after bathing,
Why did you not strangle me before speaking
Rather than fill me with the wild white honey of your words
And then leave me to the mercy
Of the forest bees?



—Photo by Katy Brown