I write several different types of poems. I even write sonnets sometimes. The one below is a narrative poem, which to some isn’t a poem at all. It’s prose broken up into lines. Maybe. But sometimes a thought or event is best expressed that way, and and why deny a thing its most fitting suit of clothes? This poem, I think, would’ve lost its essential truth and comedy dressed up as any other thing. It was first published a few years back in Mr. Jack Marlowe’s Gutter Eloquence, but I have since reworked it a bit.
I was the last one on what I thought was the right bus.
I asked the driver to make sure. He said something
that in English sounded like “crossing.” The only problem
was he was speaking German,
and I’d just taken up the language. I asked him again.
He scratched his forehead just above his nose.
He repeated himself angrily. I still didn’t understand.
I tried to simplify. “Sooo, Leipzig?”
“Ja, ja…” he said.
“Danke schön …”
I sat down a few seats behind him.
I kept an eye on him in the rearview mirror.
Above his head there was a digital clock with red numbers.
It was 6:03. At 6:05 the bus was scheduled to depart.
At 6:04 he grabbed the top of the steering wheel
with both hands
and peered at the door with his sharp vulture’s eye.
At 6:04 and about 30 seconds he began pummeling
the gum that was in his mouth,
his jaw working more furiously than ever.
6:05. BANG! He slammed the door shut, pumped the gas,
went tearing around the bend.
I looked out the window. There was a guy running
alongside the bus, his necktie streaming
over his left shoulder, a briefcase banging
against his leg,
one arm frantically waving.
He kept a pretty good pace with us all the way
to the end of the parking lot,
but then we took a sharp left onto the main road.
He was a couple seconds late.