Bus strike

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.

Melted

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.

City walker

Back after a long summer break. Walking to work again. Since I get lost in my  thoughts as I walk, I’m known for tripping (not that kind!) and occasionally taking a glorious fall, garnering lots of attention and immediate sympathy from any old people near me. So intermittently I have to remind myself to “walk consciously”, “be in the moment”, pay attention to where I am and the fact that I’m in motion and not to disconnect from my feet! Once again, this poem is an ode to my city, Barcelona.

sidewalk strewn2
City walker

Walk consciously, and keep your gaze
fixed on the path ahead.
Discreetly dodge the dog shit
and any pigeons lying dead
upon the sidewalk that you cherish.
Keep on walking every day.

A city has its faults and flaws,
and some have history.
This one is built on Roman stones,
has two mountains and a sea.

The sidewalk bears an artist’s stamp.
Another artist draws
with wind and leaves and cast off flowers,
an ephemeral collage.

Such beauty more than compensates
for anything I dodge.

Man with the doves

This poem has taken a while to develop. Like the other sidewalk poems, the first line was prompted by a real moment on the street. A contrast that registered.

In building the poem, I realized that I wanted to transmit the images with impartiality, the citywalker as photojournalist.

The man with the doves

The man with the doves
is asking for coins.

The man in the poster
– naked chest, naked loins –
announces a lotion
¡cash-back, guarranteed!
to smoothe your abdomen
at night while you sleep.

The doves peck at nothing,
they dance and they coo
around the old man
who does not look at you.

His hat sits before him,
a basket of hope –
originally white,
now the far side of taupe.

I live with both men,
our relationship bound
by the shared stretch of  sidewalk,
profane and profound.