Two Bus Poems


Riders, #3

Mostly we just trusted the bus.
Gave into that half-dreamt
state of waiting. The mind could be
like a botched spackle job.
Or an unremarkable weather front,
a spring wind thick-fingering the trees.
Sometimes it was its own ambitious
geography. Sometimes it was all these

and its own going forth: a container ship
against which the mind, like an Atlantic
slopped messily. Today, the mind has a simple gig:
it’s that persistent crooner, schoolboy poet brain,

trying to be an entire doo-wop band
of amore. It’s okay that he doesn’t have a thing
new in the world to sing, that all that rises
through his mind is, “darling, yoouuu send me . . .“

If only he could sing in just such a way
that that girl at school would kiss him,
sweetly, and, if that internal rhyme
of the right song, of certainty,

would keep, how could she ever leave him.?


Vernacular, #1: This Necessary Invocation

Because four people said, “Bless You” when I sneezed. “Bless you” and “bless you” and “bless you” and “bless you,” until I thought, yes, bless me, Muses of Transit. For Nyvellya, singer/songwriter, prophetess who stepped aboard the bus armful of books, eyelashes goddesses would envy. For the father who shifted his boy from right to left hip, licked his thumb tip to clean the sleep from his son’s eyes—let there be a poem worthy of the exact mathematics of his tenderness. For the man who named his wheelchair “Breezy.” For the woman who grieved in a low cry I wanted to but could not translate. For the woman in the seat beside me, who said, after blessing me, “do we know each other?” and when I said, “no,” shook her head: “that’s the problem with people like you. What you think you know. What you don’t.” She quick-educated me: “Think, woman. About who adds up. What don’t. Think. Then say what you think you know. ”

Melanie Almeder


Melanie Almeder, on “Two Bus Poems”:
These are from a group of poems that were first drafted during the Writer By Bus Residency, April 2015, Roanoke. With gratitude for RIDE Solutions, the Roanoke Arts Commission, and Valley Metro.

Melanie Almeder, on judging, and on her choice of top poems:
It was, truly a joy to read through the stack of 95 submissions and find these gorgeous, gorgeous poems–their raw necessity, their utter talented craft. These poets are writing poems as good as any published the world over.


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