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Bus Bound for Slippery Rock

by David Hill

December’s anticipation
deflated to January let down
in the bluest of times,
with Christmas break ended
facing my last semester
I ached in finality.

Eleven hours since Philly
two foot of snow and still falling
worsened with each westward mile.
The Greyhound belches toxic fumes
to the gray of a city snowbound.
Standing at last, I shake pins and cobwebs
inside the Pittsburgh terminal.

“No buses outgoing till conditions improve.”

Me, a neo-hippie pretender in scout boots
and my freaked and faded Todd Rundgren T-shirt
both of us narrow faced, stringy haired
and so thin we look heroine chic.

Packed tight with the stranded,
splayed on the floor, next to the door
a bag lady in duster and long johns
calling “Frank, Frank!”
I choose a floor space well away
with a window.

Grime collected in corners
a dead fly upon the sill,
one breath sends him spinning
light and crisp to the floor.

Yellow ploughs rattle their chains
and clear the street,
and the manhole cover steams
as temperatures drop with the night.
Icicles hang from the Iron City Beer sign,
“Steelers, Superbowl Champs!”

From the blind vendor
and his Seeing Eye shepherd,
I buy a soft pretzel
squiggled heavy in mustard
and call it my supper.

Earlier on the bus
I read “The Island of Doctor Moreau”
so these hours pass in vivisection visions
like demented night in a sick bed.
On the floor, I doze and wake
to a passing madman
his face forced close, creased
and blowing eighty proof,
“I makes my money robbin’ graves.”
he looks hard at me for reaction,
when I don’t, he shuffles on.

Empty hours stiff and bleary
ended by a rising sun
the outside wet and dripping,
I have change enough for coffee
and Danish.

“Bus to Butler now boarding”

I grab my duffle and hustle to the dock,
there, this guy from my dorm
an electro frizz Deadhead
“Hey dude, we’re boogyin’ back to “The Rock”
his head bobs with emphasis.

Springtime draws a bead on me
an ending, a beginning
in a “real” world,
a world I want no part of.


Posted on 01/06/2005
Copyright © 2023 David Hill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Mary Ellen Smith on 01/08/05 at 01:27 AM

Whew! What a vivid telling! Good writing!

Posted by Eli Skipp on 11/20/05 at 01:39 PM

Oh wow! I love this! What great wording, so descriptive. I love when people use poetry to tell stories and you did very well.

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