this too
Friday, January 13, 2006

We’re on the bus.
It’s after 8 pm
and everyone is tired,
heads leaning, banging
on the window panes,
and mobile phones compete
like slanting lasers:
nasty travesties
of well-known tunes.

and drifting off
and coming to

Loud voices here:
two young black men
in woolly hats
disputing evil. ‘Christ’, I hear,
and ‘snake’ and ‘serpents’ teeth’.
Arms wave in overemphasis.

Quite mad, they sound,
or off their heads
on something strong.

and drifting off
and coming to

Some older men,
handshakes all round,
eye contact and intensity.
Short, fair-skinned, dark-haired men -
where are they from?
A language I don’t know.
I crave that place – or…
no, such male bonds
would shut me out.

and drifting off
and coming to

The disputatious pair
are up and swaying
off, and now the others –
gone. From where? To where?
Such feelings, questions,
random tired thoughts
while sitting rocking slowly home
and drifting off
and coming to again.

Good poem, Jean. Why don't you post more poetry here?
Beth, the few tentative poems in my blog are almost the only ones I've written since childhood. I might be tempted to do more, though, having received for Christmas Stephen Fry's wonderful book, which really encourages poetic play (I blogged about it a few posts a go). These vivid but disjointed impressions didn't seem to work as discursive sentences...
Wonderful poem, Jean! It recalls for me the feeling I had the other morning, after returning from a lovely holiday on the westcoast where the only noise was the crashing waves and wind - aah! It was jarring to be on a crowded bus full of college students loudly talking, trying to tune it all out with memories of those ever repeating hypnotic waves!
Take care!
Mmm, discursive, perhaps not. But I like it as a portrait of an experience. It conjured for me a jumble of related disjoint images that are all representative of the experience of the underground — like the flashing windows of a passing train, or of passing stations; the cars, each embodying a set of lives that pass in a whirlwind but in that moment are collected in a car that is collected with other cars; etc. etc. I think sometimes a poem can be a portrait rather than a point? Which is to say that the portrait IS the point? (Maybe that was your point and I misunderstood.)

I enjoy reading the poems you do post here and I hope you'll share more as they come. Thanks, by the way, for the reminder about Fry's book which I remember you posted about before. I mean to track it down.
As a rider of public transit for about 5 years now, this poem speaks to me of multiple experiences on buses and subways. We see each other in a strange kind of way, pegging each other in to a kind of filing system we each carry around of types, and it's endemic for transit riders surely, with much time to observe each other without speaking, this slotting each other in, sometimes I imagine whole lives for people snoozing opposite me, and we listen to snatches of conversations people who know each other are having, and construct portions of lives out of those, the older men meeting in an Irish-style pub later, or maybe Hungarian, all the while drifting into and out of alert consciousness ourselves.

I wouldn't call "Random" discursively written. It's tight; the images clear and sympathetic and honest; the narrator, any of us. And I could feel the motion of the bus throughout...
Jean, this poem so well expresses the feeling of long, dozy bus journeys and the snatches of others' lives glimpsed momentarily. Like Brenda, I often imagine and make guesses about my fellow-passengers' lives and eavesdrop shamelessly on conversations. Sometimes I don't want to get off at my stop because I've become too interested in them and want to follow the clues. I might have made a good spy.
Emotions of drift and clarity, prodromal sleep in public, memory in life with inexplicable obscurities and sharp certainty.

Thank you.

I didn't mean to say the poem was trying to be discursive, but that I ended up writing it as a poem because the experience didn't seem susceptible to discursive writing.
Jean. Nice to see you writing poetry! Go for it.

I've just sent you an email and its been returned as 'Undeliverable'?
I really enjoyed this piece... captures a feeling, a place, a moment very well.
Mary, oh dear, sorry! I sent myself half a phd thesis which filled email box and then forgot to download it to home computer... should be ok now, please send again.
Keep up the poetry, Jean...I think you've got something there!
Post a Comment

<< Home

My Photo
Location: London, UK

Freelance copy-editor and translator. Keen on language, literature, photography, art, music, buddhist meditation and the countryside.

February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 /

Powered by Blogger