Friday, February 05, 2010

While I'm Rushing About, A Poem

Hello Readers,

I've had to adjust my life around the arrival of the giant snowstorm predicted to begin here somewhere between late morning and mid-afternoon, so I don't really have time for a full post. What I will leave you with, however, is a poem I wrote about a year ago. It is both one of my favorites and has been well-received when read it aloud in front of an audience. Long-time regular readers please pardon the redundancy, though you may notice I added a few subtle flourishes here and there.

Those who live in the DC area will best pick up on the subtleties, but in fairness everyone who rides public transportation on a regular basis will hopefully see the humor. To read this poem literally would be to miss its fullest intent. The point is not to mock the disabled or afflicted, but rather to highlight the attitudes we form out of our own discomfort with unfamiliar company and with it our instantaneous emotional responses, which are rarely tolerant.

bad company
usually comes in
the form of men

with ornate and
highly visible forearm

invariably sacrilegious

leering vacantly
mouths open

identical to the way
you're afraid you look

while (you can't
quite help yourself)

gazing across
the seats at the latest
attractive stranger

they hunch forward
head bowed
elbows resting heavily

on knees (observing the
posture alone
nearly be
confused as prayer)

talking incoherently
out of the
sides of their mouths

women nervous enough
to clutch their purses

reassuringly tighter
to them

while shifting their bodies
on the seat
two inches closer to a

poster advertising
the merits of a
social service agency

or recently held marathon
intended to cure
a childhood disease

one could (I suppose)
stare back
but it would have no
effect whatsoever

all bad company understands
is the evils of
institutionalized food

and the acquisition of
loose change

have no fear

soon they'll leave
ambling out at the most
unlikely stop imaginable

forcing one
to think up a new game


Kathryn said...

Hi Kevin, this is great! A funny, yet realistic account of the perils, and joys, of using public transport. I've given up driving to work this winter (due to snow and roadworks) and I have to say, I'm loving getting public transport again! People-watching is a great sport, and sometimes, there can even be happy conversations - about the book you're reading, the view out the window, or a fellow passenger drunk or sleeping on the way home! I'm not saying it's all roses but it sure beats sitting in a long line of traffic on a characterless motorway!

Gail said...

Hi Kevin-

excellent poem about fear of strangers, those who 'appear' odd. Amazing.

Love Gail