They kiss each other’s cheeks!
Wearing jim-jams in the street!
Back there they’d
’uddle ya in a van straight-
make ya wear their jack-
et for a working month!
It was iperbowl in the book –
Now it’s ‘hi-purrrr-burlee’.
(I guess that ball’s
Just a skool-
Disco – could be wrong
The bus speeds along the road
A hill – it slows down
Passengers leap on and off
Others sit silently, looking
The bus is packed with late night clubbers
The bus is empty – Sunday morning!
Fast, slow, start, stop, full, empty.
A Brookes Bus life.
She’s walking this city in spires, her route
Dissected by ancient stone walls, outstretched
Arms embracing those free of cares within.
And brushed along, little worn shoes treading
Town’s cobbles, the curiosity she dared invent
Peers through college gates and finds within
An intellectual rite of passage, the journey
Of dons across pristine lawns to spread thought.
She was on the bus today
the woman with the loud posh voice.
Don’t you think the
city centre’s a disgrace –
practically a no-go area.
And look at that –
as we neared the business school –
no aesthetic values
take that woman at the Tate
the one whose dirty knickers
won the Turner prize –
at which point
I’m almost sure
an old man upped and died.
In a foreign land I had a dream:
I zigzagged down New College Lane
In radical coat and brown DMs
Toothbrush in my 501s.
Past long walls hiding centuries’ learning
To Queen’s Lane and the trafficking High
I sauntered slow, my insides skipping
Towards another’s room.
I woke, years away, weeping,
Aching for this Oxford journey
Lit up in my mind
Like a first love.
Gentlemen and ladies, students, babies,
Girls and guys, hushed voices and loud cries.
Intellectuals and comedians, wise men and bohemians,
Discuss and ponder while dreamers look yonder.
Musicians muse and old friends swap news,
The bus completes another mile
When winter ice cuts
I take the bus but my bike
Is more exciting
Sunday: the chance to see what lies beyond the London Road.
Slip back a century or two among the stone
abodes, the ringing sunshine through the streets,
gates swung ajar; a woman greets you as you pass.
Then, the sudden sight of quarry-chiselled meadows or,
around a hedgerow, plunging fields,
light ruffling the grass against its grain.
*Hedena’s Dun was the original name for Headingtonby Gillian Pink
Here comes the bus
Which never leads me astray
Takes my time in its hands
And rewards me
With the latest music.
And how it rocks me!
And how I long to arrive!
This journey will be so moving
And all my senses alive.
You may wonder why this poem has a very small font. On the web, it is very difficult with long line lengths to be true to the way that the poet intended. If you are interested you might like to read what Chris Jennings has to say on the subject on PageToscreen.
The rain sham upon the windows of the bus perch as foreground to the wind grey that blocks
the local radio station
transmission of some shill lame Sting / Stipe wannabe act drowning on his own self professed
recreation of someone elses miserable times transmuted by the power of delirium,
invoked by the power of hysteria
The wind smudges the signal like an eraser, an adults filter, subtracting whole choruses from
the playlist of the sloth
Tidies the dirty foxes, nature in mysterious ways, this is a beautiful three and a half minutes.
I got on the bus today and
made a fuss about my ticket
just to make the people laugh
then I sat beside a man who smelt
of tar and wet clothes but before I did
a woman took my hand and said
I see you’re happy; why?
I said; I’ve only just survived
- like the rest of us.
The last bus jumps off like a planet
packed with under-assorted people
who take advantage of it anyhow.
Most of us are the better for wear;
a few are transcendental; and one or two
chancers are busy changing their lives.
If you are not talking you can watch
the bodies anticipate shedding clothes,
evacuating wastes, and lastly
lying down somewhere in the dark.
There are no good places to die but
this is surely one of them.
Buses can be so much fun
Here comes Stagecoach jump on one
Get your ticket find a seat.
Who knows who you’ll meet.
From the Cowley, Iffley road
Swiftly over the Magdalen Bridge
Cruising past the Botanic Gardens
Witnessing the ancient towers.
Here we are here we go
Feel the magic of the old.
Have a lovely, lovely day
as you now go on your way.
because the sound will not let me leave
I find a bench to sit amongst it, mesmerised,
when an old man, shuffling between son and wife,
stops, caught by the bells, the spell
light up winter grass
take my seat, I say
and we both, compelled somehow to do so,
bow to one another
to quiet sea
Nomads, we came here
thirsty for knowledge.
Remember those nights
shooting pool in the Elm Tree?
Heppy – Mr Graham –
behind his bar, dreaming
of Caribbean nights; 52s
rumbling by to unknown places,
Cowley, Blackbird Leys.
You moved on. I stayed, walked
up and down this road
ten thousand times.
Now my feet carry its smell.
They call it home.
I run when the moon’s a fingernail
laughing at the sky.
I glide through cloisters
where stunted faces goggle disapproval,
past cardboard men who spit at me,
smelling of chicken wings.
I slide into the silence
of Barracks Lane
where frost sprays the tin-foil path;
paws hiss on frozen grass
and my fox’s tail salutes the moon.
No need for bikes or parking fuss
Socratic transport, Minerva’s bus
You rush me reading learned themes,
From grove to grove of academe
On the bus I shall go
Where I stop only I will know
I like to watch the wheels turn
And smell the rubber burn
I get in a happy state
When the bus is very late
As the class will be done
So I can go and have some fun
If the lecturers make a fuss
I can just blame it on the bus
Hung heads loll easy in cold
February chill, ill sniffles call
“Hark” to first lectures of the day.
Bustle bodies cut air in musty
Morning calls, carousels round spires
Round cold learning fires – fraught
Desires to learn, to have been
And be someone
This is the way into Oxford,
Plugged into the songs in my pocket.
In my head I sing along to the second violin,
Sound cloistered between the ears.
I am travelling into a private city,
Built of shortcuts and anecdotes,
Not watching the route known by heart,
Not listening to the chatter
or the wheels hiss on wet tarmac.
How can we ever “arrive” in a city
where the world’s traffic never ends?
Faces of all shades and forms frame
their hopes in the same bus windows
where I sat, uncertain and newly a student.
Now is their travel my history:
their excited eyes watching the moving streets
where my younger years still walk
I’m on my way
to town today
on an Oxford bus.
I meet with my mates
in the park
We stay there till it’s getting dark.
Now I’m cold and covered in mud
I stroll back to the bus stop
It’s warm and dry back on the bus
Returning from my Oxford journey.
Clankity clank, bumpity bump
Over the bridge, down with a thump.
Whistling winds, a gleaming sun
This journey for me, is nearly done.
Honkity honk, beepity beep
cars rush past, and lorries and jeeps.
A disco of lights, red, amber and green
More beautiful than any I’ve seen.
Brakes screech, doors open wide.
Cold out there, maybe I’ll stay inside.
I’m on my way to find a bus
I met up with my friends on the bus
We went to Carterton town
to get Chinese
We went the park to eat our food
Then we were thirsty
We got some coke
Back on the bus it was dark
Up in the sky I saw stars
Like little lights all dotted around.
If you want to keep dry,
But you don’t want to fly.
If you want to go far,
You may not wish to use a car.
You might want to stay afloat,
But not want to use a boat.
To travel with a minimum of fuss,
You could jump on a big red bus.
I board the bus,
My tears the only token,
My last memory of us
I remember our picnic
At South Park,
Punting on the Thames,
The Radcliffe Tower in the dark
Stuck in a traffic jam,
Laughing at life
But here our journey ends
A slight movement of the hand,
And there I go
Gone for good
If I’d had the money,
I wouldn’t have seen that hummingbird
On the way to work that morning when
I couldn’t afford the bus.
What sort of fish likes patterns?
I saw two planes this morning,
flying unnecessarily close
together, threatening to collide.
These giant metal birds
roared louder than any pterodactyl
I’d ever heard, echoing
off the streets of my city of learning.
Soon enough, though, they
flew away into the grey nothingness
of a skyline without a sunset.
(with apologies to William Blake)
’Twas on a rainy Thursday, their windows all unclean,
The buses running two and two, some red, some blue, some green.
Grey-faced commuters stood around, with feet as cold as snow,
Till down the mighty Banbury Road they like Thames waters flow.
Oh, what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of Oxford town!
Amid the night and smog they gleamed with radiance all their own.
Between them stretched gigantic gaps, since buses run in bands.
Thousands of tired travellers wringing their innocent hands.
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the traffic’s song,
Or like harmonious thunderings those dreaming spires among.
So though all seats are occupied, and waiting times obscene,
Don’t make a fuss, please take the bus, and help keep Oxford green.
You don’t need to travel to see the world,
Just take a ride on your local bus.
Close your eyes and enjoy the sounds
Of the whole world visiting us!
Roped to a tree,
drenched purple and yellow petals
against the stripped-pale trunk,
memorial flowers in foil
outside Ruskin’s cathedral
to the steady creeping
progress of life.
On trains why is it that I pay?
The damn thing goes there anyway.
Ticket-less I should be,
to ride the rails - forever free.
I’d travel up and down the lines,
until I’m caught and given fines
when the west licked
under the cloud low
silver, gold leaf prising
the sky lid so that
the grumpy driver, the
one-eyed dog, the early
drunks, the Japanese
tourist, the old man
at the front of the queue
were each in a luminous
pocket and the pigeons
and pensioners, and the
and Friday night out
and the suddenly antiphonal windows
and just for a moment
Climb, climb bus.
Jolt on up
To the heights of Headington.
Jolt and climb and arrive.
Dreams materialize on the Hill.
But will they for me?
Are there too many jolts
To a PhD?
Today is exam day, for pen to push paper.
An extended hand halts the afternoon bus
And I embark with eerie silence saluting me.
I am the only passenger!
No ringing tones, no chatty phones. Silence.
No music from errant earplugs.
No other traveller mounts this motor.
Doomed in this personal privilege
I go to my execution in solitary stupor.
where buses stop
and I walk by
the wind, in its rush
past white-haired neighbourly love
sweeping down the gritty muck
of yesterday’s snow
I race the bus to the lights,
the future push through café doors,
this girl – three foot high…
we wander in Heady space.
She turns, smiles
Shoulderblade to clavicle, our faces hard
as old cheese
and the storm
black ink when a billboard
a brilliant, total, toothpaste smile
This is the place, the only place
the totally embarrassed
can fall into all kinds of love
none the wiser.
Queues and hold-ups
“Hurry up, I’m going to be late!”
“Hurry up, I’m going to be late!”
“Hurry up, I’m going to be late!”
Take a moment.
Think about it.
What are we doing?
Before it’s too late.
The old route from Harcourt to Headington Hill
Has some strange appeal for my bicycle still.
On days when my wife wants the West End for fun
Its spokes spool the roads that my bus would’ve done.
Why keep on repeating what you’ve done for years?
She whines in the hollows of retiring ears.
But this is a secret I’ll keep to myself.
The joy of a journey that’s carrying nobody else.
The punt swings clear of the water with a slap
Fingers of water slipping from the prow
1925, my grandfather, waistcoat flapping in the warm breeze
Casts a boatbuilder’s eye over his bargain.
His Oxford centred on Salter’s yard
River and canal his highways, a city of fords and wharves.
I tread the solid ground, but the boatman rowed sure.
by Rex Knight
I can see more
than I can from a car:
wide-winged over the road
toy cows motionless
sitting down, standing up.
Orange leaves drop.
Blue shadows crouch under walls.
Who watches over all this?
I would like to say God,
being upstairs on the bus,
but I suppose it’s just us.
Fur up with white stuff.
Human hearts expand,
Offer to shop,
Under the ivy
Wings flick brief greeting
To the coming cold
And turn in for a long sleep at last.
Marching to our ordered work
with Mickey Rat, Chairman Mao
and Uncle Joe – “The more you spend
the more you save!” Piled high,
sold cheap, pips squeak,
the canary pirouettes in the cage,
until something living reclaims our waste –
like the five-fingered hand and embryo fish
all our parts come down to this:
return to God, address unknown.
not just a sharp left
time to dream
to come clean
to work it out
to feel bereft