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
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.