Sunday, November 29, 2015

the bus ride

I depend on public transport for mobility most of the time. The cost of a private car, plus its maintenance is beyond me. So the authorities try to give us a good system of public transport incorporating trains, buses and taxis to keep us from complaining. And they are delivering, as the system is pretty efficient, if you ignore the increasingly frequent train breakdowns and missing taxis during peak hours.

Back in the older days the bus services were not so comfortable, but they still deliver. This poem is about the then and now. And not necessarily about the buses.

pencil sketch by dsnake1

the bus ride

you remembered, don't you
every morning just after dawn
you sent me off at the door
made a checklist because
i was forgetful. ticked off
wallet, keys, pass, fags
then i was off to catch the bus.
it was a damn long ride to work
from Bukit Merah to the east coast
and this was the time before
facebook, PSP games and smart phones
so there was really nothing much
to do except sleep, daydream
look at all the pretty girls
going up and down and yes
look out for the weather because
the buses then had no air-con
and it was no fun having the rain
smacking into your face at 50 mph.

and one day i got so bored
i wrote a poem about a river
because i passed over it
every day in the lurching bus
and it came out in the papers
and you so proudly told
all of your friends but
they were like what the fuck is a poem?
and you so patiently explained
it was what Li Bai or Shakespeare wrote
and they were so in awe of me later
and that was how by being bored
i had my really 15 minutes of fame.

i wish this could have last longer.
the buses are so much better now
nobody drops cigarette ash onto my lap
i ride in cool comfort, so okay some of
my co-passengers are boors but
i have my smart phone with many games
and an ipad with 20 movies in it.
i read poems in the bus instead
and maybe it's hard to get bored now
but sometimes just sometimes i get lonely
looking out of the bus windows
at the light blue sky
thinking of you because
you are no longer
to send me off
every morning
at the door.

written 23/11/2015
revised 27/11/2015

And this is the link to my poem about a river.

As I hummed a tune about the great steppes, my bus arrives, jam-packed as usual.

--dsnake1, jam

Shared on Poetry Pantry #280 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2015

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Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

I sensed a feeling of deep loss and sorry to hear about it. A very beautiful and touching write.

Lots of love,

29 November, 2015 20:55  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Sanaa, this poem is also about loss, but i tried to write it in a lighter manner. :)

29 November, 2015 21:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nicely done... Sorry for your comes through eloquently in your poem...

29 November, 2015 21:19  
Blogger Mary said...

Ah, it seems that in former times there were some goods as well as some bads. Very poignant about being sent out the door by someone who cared about you. And, yes, 15 minutes of fame.....perhaps you are fortunate to have had 15 minutes (smiles) as many don't have any minutes of such 'fame.' And today, traveling with iPad and smartphone in comfort....much better than in former times, but perhaps not with as much heart? I like this poem a lot!

29 November, 2015 21:55  
Blogger Jae Rose said...

Well this made me think back - the good thing about bad public transport is that you have both hands free to write poems - maybe that isn't so bad not to mention all the people on board who provide many a cue for stories and poems ;)

29 November, 2015 22:28  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you! i have been writing a lot about loss lately. gotta watch that! :)


yes, there are some goods as well as some bads. formerly, the rides were not that comfortable, but were not as packed as today. imagine, there were 'smoking' and 'non-smoking' sections in the buses. nowadays the weed is banned almost everywhere.
about that 15 minutes of fame, it was a national poetry contest and somehow my entry won it (i thought it really wasn't that good) and my mug made it to the papers. i read stuff in the buses now, either from a book or the ipad, but really lost the heart to write. :)



it was a long ride and really there's nothing much to do. oh yes, the people on board can get interesting and provide material or inspiration for a poem or story.

29 November, 2015 23:29  
Blogger Sumana Roy said...

what a wonderful flow about times of 'then' and 'now'...each part has its share of good and bad...the end is so unexpected and moving....

29 November, 2015 23:50  
Blogger brudberg said...

The whole poem really wraps itself into a painful knot with those last lines... it's not really about missing the bus-ride... it's something else you miss.. so very understandable... Thank you for sharing this.

30 November, 2015 02:09  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my friend, the poignancy in those closing lines! I smiled at the awe your neighbors held you in when they equated you with Shakespeare. LOL. Never fear - your poems are valued and enjoyed in our community very much. It always amazes me when I go anywhere in public, how EVERYONE is plugged in to their devices. I dont have any and am the only one looking around, as you do, at the river, and the remember and dream........sigh.

30 November, 2015 02:12  
Blogger Toni Spencer said...

It's been ages since I've ridden a bus but this poem brings to mind that ride then and how things are different now. But the loss and regret and the missing of then and the reality of now. I sit in traffic in my car and wonder how did the calm rides of years past turn into this rush, this time of palpable anger in the air around me at the delays or someone pushing their way in front of you. I like the pencil sketch, done by a human on paper with a pencil instead of done on a computer with some kind of program. No one hardly smokes anymore around here, sort of like a nasty crime. But oh, such loss and regret in this poem.

30 November, 2015 02:51  
Anonymous Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

The memories and ride of life and loss...loved the story. It reminded me on the surface of air travel for me...still I find times I want to just look out and think about life and loss and inspiration.

30 November, 2015 03:28  
Blogger Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

This piece touched me on a number of levels--the loss is present on a number of levels as well--really well written

30 November, 2015 06:51  
Blogger Wendy Bourke said...

This is a really compelling narrative poem ... layered and nuanced. I enjoyed reading this.

30 November, 2015 08:49  
Blogger Old Egg said...

Beautiful, poignant but so real. I too traveled on buses in discomfort but knew no better. However nowadays I find that people observing especially on public transport is great as a writing prompt and many of my stories in the past have been on that theme.

30 November, 2015 17:19  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


glad that you liked the ending. :)


you saw through that, didn't you? :)


haha, they have different tastes. from where i came from, most of these people have no time or interest for the literary arts.
yes, nowadays, this is the plugged-in generation. all will be lost without their electronic gizmos.. so it's good to get unplugged sometimes! :)


you noticed too, people are really getting impatient and rude, as compared to a more simpler past. drivers honk for no reason, cut lanes, anyhow park. people shove at you in the streets and supermarkets. it's a syndrome of the times.
i still do pencil sketches (maybe it's cheaper?). i used to do oils a long time ago, but i don't have the time and space for it now.
thank you so much for your lovely comment. :)


life is a journey itself, and yes, it is kind of good to just look out and think about it, sweet and bittersweet and all. :)


i tried to downplay the loss by making the poem lighter but i guess the ending still carries too heavy a slam. :)


glad you enjoyed reading this. :)


ah yes, people on public transport do make for good writing material and prompts! :)

30 November, 2015 21:40  
Blogger humbird said...

for me - very nostalgic poem....I remember too the time without the fb, twitter and other widgets....less electronics - more life chats in person, more walks with all these duties list to buy, and of course the transport: buses, trams and trains....sometimes I miss them...

01 December, 2015 03:46  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

what we may be missing now are the person-to-person interactions. chatting over a cup of coffee with friends. going to the library for a book. having outdoor activities with friends.
glad that you find this read nostalgic. :)

01 December, 2015 07:00  

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