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A Bus Commuter’s Moan
CRM (1961 / )

A Bus Commuter’s Moan

It is the poor commuter’s luck
to have to live in constant thrall
of public transport. There’s the rub.
We grouse and gripe. I’ll list them all:

Why can’t the buses ever go
at just the speed you want them to?
They’re either fast or much too slow;
it doesn’t matter what you do,

for, when you leave the local shop,
you spot the bus just pulling up
at the just over-distant stop
to which you run, trusting your luck.

The driver never seems to wait
one second longer that he must,
consigning you to rue your loss
and hang around; it just ain’t just

and when you’re waiting in the rain
it’s ages till the next one comes,
unless there’s two or three in train:
they don’t seem good at doing sums.

Although the bus timetable states
they come at well-spaced interludes,
they hang around with all their mates
and passengers just stand and brood

and when one kindly condescends
to put in an appearance, late
and you’re on tenterhooks to rush,
they love to idle, laze and wait.

They always seem to want to stop,
like dogs attracted by the sight
of tempting lampposts, on their way,
when you are in a troubled plight,

for, when you simply need to rush,
the driver wants to take his time
as he must keep to timetable,
so, stubbornly, he toes the line.

How slowly snakes the tardy bus,
when you are in a nervous state,
through crowded streets of London town,
since you’re already running late.

How speedily the minutes pass
when your appointment’s overdue;
you’d think that they had set the lights
at red, especially for you,

for, as you crawl along the street,
you’re scared you’ll miss that vital date
and butterflies turn somersaults
inside your stomach ’cos you’re late

but when you want to laze around
and contemplate the passing scene
then suddenly, without a doubt,
the traffic lights all turn to green.

So swiftly flies the zooming bus
when you desire to have a squint
to see the bargains in the shops;
along the streets it seems to sprint.

Those landmarks that you care to view
fly past in ever fuzzier blurs
as the mad driver speeds along
and makes you want to swear and curse.

He never seems to compromise
however much you want him to;
his attitude is contrary
to whatever pleases you

but, if you ask this weary chap
about annoying things he does,
you realise it isn’t him
we have to blame; it’s really us.

We have no patience, he declaims:
we do not see the traffic jam
that causes him to moan and cuss,
that hinders his strategic plan

for, if he had his way, he would,
with diligent exactitude,
be ever punctual, as he should;
he does not mean to seem so rude.

He does not wish to make you late:
in his idealistic world
he’d glide along, in empty streets
without a hindrance, undisturbed,

so just let’s pause and think awhile:
if we were in the driver’s place,
could we just drive and stop and smile?
We’d not even start his race.

So let’s just let him have his way;
We’d never do what he can do
And drive the massing millions home.
I’m sure I couldn’t. Nor could you.

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Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me

Comments (1)

Exactly how I feel when waiting for a bus in London. This poem is very intresting and I like how the sentences flow so well after one another.