V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




For an hour and twenty minutes
he's been watching a couple
lifting and setting down a suitcase,
two sailors flirting with passers by,
a woman with crying baby in one arm,
daughter with half-eaten sandwich
in the other. For a moment he thought
how they're family, all in this
together. Then indifference set in.
He's nothing to them and they're nothing
to him, just faces sliding
across glass when the big doors open.

The whole depot slides with them—
tall racks of magazines
in the gift shop, dusty shelves
of model Greyhounds and dolls
with outstretched arms,
bright pinball machines, a spinning wheel
that tells fortunes and stamps pennies
with The Lord's Prayer, even the drivers
in the diner's corner booth, their hushed talk
of a Porsche that hit the Tahoe Express
head-on—all dissolves
when the dispatcher announces from the rafters
San this, El that.


He steps up into the cool dark
of a Scenicruiser, finds a seat
in the back, watches the last passengers board.
When a stranger sits beside him,
squeezes his arm and asks his name,
the boy looks down
at workers tossing luggage like lost souls
into the Greyhound's underbelly. Leaving the city,

it's the symmetry of orchards he glares at,
smudgepot flames dancing on the cool
tinted glass. Rows of oil rigs
pump out the slowly
descending night—and now this man's
pressing his thigh,
asking where he's from,
where he's headed.


The dead were laid out
along the side of the road
in drifts of snow—he saw them
as the drivers kept telling and retelling
their story. Indifference wavered
as he placed a napkin over his fork and spoon,
stroked the bodies lying there,
imagined the bus he's now on
plummeting the full length of a slope,
passengers falling into each other's arms—

But this is his story,
so the boy, alone,
clings to a fistful of stamped pennies
and never forgives those who trespass against him.


© by Don Schofield


Contributor's note
Next page
Table of contents
VPR home page

[Best read with browser font preferences set at 12 pt. Times New Roman]