Poem: Riding the 16

(Photo: John McNab/Flickr CC)


Forty-five minutes in the 2000s
Is enough time to write
A small book of poems
But they never seem to come
Until you're furthest away from a pen.

It must be the rhythm of the skyline:

The faces of strangers grow more familiar
Yet as nameless as a Somalian maiden at 9 a.m.

A Russian tea house has gone out of business;

A carniceria is offering fresh meat
While Xieng Khouang and Saigon
become neighbors
Once more, amid falling borders
and empty buildings
For the American dreamers.

Porky's holds onto cold war prosperity and
dine-in-your-car sensibilities, a neon blaze at night.

The Hong Kong Noodle House has
flourished since the handover.

An old German photographer laughs with
me about the noise
of a Minolta at the ballet and the fall of
civilization to Y2K.
He's showing me a book about comedy left
at the previous stop,
chuckling at strange fortunes,
quantum physics and
the clocks dotting our way.

I don't catch his name, trundling off at my stop,
Wondering how people find poetry
without the bus.

Published in Unarmed #29, 2002

Photo courtesy John McNab. Browse John's photostream on Flickr.

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