Monday, August 18, 2008

This is not a poem

Sometimes the world is achingly beautiful.

We are crammed in the bus, just crammed, and the night air is sulky and sweet, summer winding its way around our throats, a silken caress to soften our scowls.

While waiting at the bus stop, I notice the neighbor sitting in his lawn chair drinking a beer and listening to music and you can just feel his happiness radiating out to the street, kicked back on a Friday evening.

The Latina girls giggle on the bus in their tank tops, red and orange and green, and the black girls get on with their bangley earrings and gold sandals, while the bus lurches through the dusk falling on us like a tide of good wishes.

People on the bus are glued to their cell phones. Like the people who talk to themselves in Central Park in New York City, sitting on the benches with nowhere to go, unable to imagine getting out of the city or away from the voices in their heads. We all have voices in our heads these days.

And a man wearing a grey jacket with thinning hair gets on the bus, trailing a scent of cigarette smoke and bitterness. At first I am not listening but then I can’t help it, his voice is low but intrusive. He is saying, Where is God in all this mess? There is no God, look at the way he lets us suffer. If I met God, I would spit on him, I been suffering for 30 years, can’t eat what I want, go where I want. I have no life, just pain, man. What more can God do to me, huh? Only thing else he can do is kill me, and I wish he would and just get it over with, man. And I can’t tell if he is talking to the man slouched in his seat across the aisle or just into the air of the bus. The dark-skinned man in his dirty t-shirt and broken sneakers whose bowed back told his tale of woe, says, Where the love, man? Can’t you give us some love? and reaches out a hand to shake his.

The blonde couple across from me with the chubby, bouncy baby ring the bell. It’s my stop, too, and we get up to get off. I almost turn to the man and say, Look, God came to see you today. Look at that man shaking your hand and that baby giving her smiles away for nothing. That’s God, man. Wake up. But I don’t.

I climb down the steps of the bus and think about how God once deserted me and how it almost killed me. But didn’t. And I walk away to a party where I know no one but will have a swell time anyway, just happy those days are over. And I think, I sure hope that man finds out someday that he was wrong.

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