The Sadness of the Bus Driver
Philip Brooks

He drives the night route.
The schedule's carved into him.
He wants to show us.
He tries to get lost but can't find a way.
One foot in the gutter, we wave him down.
Secretly, we expect loyalty.
But it always rains.
His tires plunge each puddle.
Punched tickets sewn into our raincoat lining,
where we're headed disappears.
Locally, all the boats are folded newspaper.

He might stop to contort himself into animal shapes.
We pay exact attention, but this city nickels
and pennies him. Fares like playground taunts.
Some of us can read the rules.
We yank the cord, call out the names.
Still, we eat in our seats. Or play radios,
long after we've hopscotched to heaven.
We love him as only passengers can love.

The bus driver longs to steer his perfect route.
Blindfolded, he faces the firing squad.
His crime is our desire to get someplace.
The light turns green.
He accepts the verdict and hits the gas.
We ask too many directions.
We can't read the maps.
We can't remember one goddamned thing he told us.
We smoke too many last cigarettes.