Another morning. I’m on the bus, and through the window I see a couple gesticulating on the sidewalk. His back is turned to me and I can’t see his face, but she is beautiful and exotic, a long mane of wavy black hair. And although i can’t hear her, I can see the anger and pain in her words.
Same old story
Her hair is wild, her brow is furled,
she wields her words like knives.
He stands immobile and remote,
the strategy of guys
who could care less.
She’s just another bitch, he thinks,
I was only having fun.
And I will win this argument
because I’ve got the gun.
This poem came to me as I was waiting on the underground platform of the Barcelona Ferrocarrils. Just as I reached the platform, I saw my train depart. Gripped with the inevitable frustration, and the knowledge that I would be late to work, I remembered the advice of my friend Nassim Taleb, who says “never run to catch a train”. And somehow, Shakespeare found his way in there.
That doppler sound,
you’ve missed the train.
No use in hurry now.
Whatever had to start on time
Time can’t allow
for failed alarm clocks, oversleep,
Remember Life’s poor player
has but a single scene.
Curtain rises, curtain falls,
and all that counts lies in between
A moment of joy captured through a bus window.
To the boys!
Tie me to your torso
and take me for a dance!
I just want to feel your body,
I’m not looking for romance.
Let the sun sculpt every muscle,
let the shadow draw the line.
We won’t cross it, we’ll just think it.
I know you can’t be mine.
But life is meant for living.
In this moment, let me dream
that years do not divide us
and I am still sixteen!
I wonder what the result would be if every pedestrian on the sidewalk wore a sign saying “this is not a bike lane.”
Caminante, no hay camino
The cyclist rings to warn me
that he's riding in my space.
If he expects I'll step aside,
he's about to see my face.
I'll tell him loud and clearly
that wheels go in the street,
that sidewalks are for walkers.
And I swear by my own feet,
I've right-of-way, and he does not,
although it makes him mad.
He’s swiftly passed, three red lights run,
and surprise! There is a crash.
The cyclist races off unscathed.
The old lady that he bashed
will take a while to walk again,
but it won’t make the news.
City hall thinks that bikes are cool.
Pedestrians, you lose!
About the previous poem…
Walking home from work the other day, I really did count 16 taxis lined up waiting at a taxi stand where the usual number is 2 or 3. As I walked past the taxis, I noticed that all the people in the driver’s seats were men. A lot of people are out of work, and it seems that a popular alternative to unemployment is to become a taxi driver. I love taxis! They are a great service to the city resident. But the number of taxis in circulation has bloated far beyond rider demand, and they spend a lot of time driving around empty, or idling at taxi stands waiting for a fare.
In the USA, in the 1930s many families from Oklahoma and other states migrated westward in search of new opportunities and new livelihoods after their farms had failed. I was amazed to read a “documentary” about their lives that said “the women took in laundry, sewing, cooked for boarders, cared for the sick, but the men couldn’t find work”. I ask my readers, what is wrong with this sentence? And why are so many men sitting around in idling taxis?
Current statistics reported in newspapers (NY Times, Financial Times,…) show that women are faring better than men in terms of economic recovery in the current crisis.
The explanation behind this poem will come in the next post!
Division of Labor
Sixteen taxis, waitin' in line,
I don't need one, walkin's fine.
They say there isn't work for all,
since the economy took that fall.
What work is that? Compared to those
Who mop the floors and iron clothes!
When crises come, it takes a man
to see no work where women can.
Beneath your dignity, you say?
Then wait in line another day!
Yesterday the metropolitan bus system was on strike. In theory, they are required to offer a fixed minimum service, something like 50% of the usual bus frequency. If you take public transport, you’ve been there, and you know that minimum seems like none. This jingle came to me this morning as I waited for the bus.
The woman in front of me melted
as we stood waiting in line.
(It wasn’t exactly a party;
We’d been there a very long time.)
I reached out and tried to support her,
grasping for some solid bit
so a doctor somewhere might rebuild her.
(In theory all you need is a rib.)
The bus was arriving!
Our wait finally over!
“You’re melting too soon!”,
I heard myself scold her.
My efforts were fruitless.
She was already gone.
Just a spot on the sidewalk.
The line had moved on.