BUS RIDE TO HELL
—James Lee Jobe, Davis
This highway goes on and on,
and the bus never stops.
Above—dust and clouds, sure,
but also a kind of fear that beaten dogs know.
The road itself is concrete and asphalt, cracked,
existing with the sadness of the inanimate.
Each crack, in fact, is a dream that was broken with time,
and patched with the spittle of weak resolve.
No one answers
stops for nothing!
The silent passengers are many,
but no one dares to pull the cord to get off.
THE BUS STOP IN THE HOT SUMMER SUN SEEMS EMPTY AND LONELY.
—James Lee Jobe
Maybe it is you that is empty, not the bus stop. You check the time; the bus will not arrive for another five minutes. It is noon and the shadows are small. The bus stop sign makes a shadow that looks like a tomahawk. You grasp the tomahawk with your left hand, even though you are right handed. Reaching back, you hurl the tomahawk at an imaginary tree. It whistles through the still noon air and buries into the bark with a dull thud. Birds fly away from the tree, and one loses a feather. In the silence that follows, there is one dark feather on the ground, and while you examine it, the bus rumbles around the corner, pulling up to you at the bus stop.
I was riding the bus
On my way to a big
Box auto parts place
And had one of those
Folding roller carts
That this time held
The dead battery from
My one and only car
The bus seemed to be
Traveling faster than usual
And was easily passing
Slower vehicles in the curb
Lane, gaining speed as it
Approached a bus stop fronting
A mobile home park where it did
Not pull over and come to a stop
Rather, it sped on past in
The next lane over, leaving
Some anxious boarders
At the stop waving wildly
Several passengers shouted
To the driver, “You missed
That stop!” but he just kept
On as if wearing a mask
Over his face to hide the truth
Like an executioner who
Had cut off the wrong head,
Standing ready for the next
LETTING THE POEM FIND US
—James Lee Jobe
We know there is a poem on this bus, the #42 Loop bus from Yolo County to Sacramento.
We have been searching for it since we boarded.
We looked first to the driver, one we haven't ridden with before.
His tremendous stomach is the wooden horse that hid Odysseus and his men when they finally took Troy.
It's a line, but not a poem.
There could be a poem in the fact that no one looks at each other, except for us, of course.
We stare at random riders like film noir detectives picking out a suspect.
They get on, get off, gaze out of the windows with Please Kill Me boredom painted on their faces, the dullest dullards who ever yawned unashamed.
They've already give up.
If there is a poem there, we don't want to write it.
Perhaps there is a poem in the bus itself, after all, it is a metal, motorized penis sliding across the feminine surface of the Teeth Mother herself.
We are riding in a mobile porn movie, we are John Holmes, and maybe our pen really is mightier than our sword.
There might be something there as it does make us uncomfortable.
We'll get back to that in twenty years.
We are trying too hard, we tell ourselves.
We will never find a poem like this!
We are a rookie pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, two outs, a runner on second base, down by a run, and it's a road game.
Dennis Eckersly is on the mound, and he is young again somehow, and he is looking at us like he doesn't particularly like us.
"Hey Dennis, it's only a game, man."
Eckersly looks us right in the eye, spits on the ground, winds up, kicks, and puts an inside curve right where we loose it in our bifocals!
Dennis Eckersly pitches around our bifocals!
How can we ever find a poem about riding the #42 Loop bus when we are behind in the count for wearing bifocals and our metaphors are getting the better of us?
That is trying too hard.
Our chi is unbalanced.
We are not relaxing into the poem.
We are going to start again, close the notebook that we take everywhere, open it again and just let the poem come to us.
We are going to breathe and just let the damn poem find us.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.