Dan Shin — Moments on the Bus

Moments on the Bus

I stand in the morning grass
With dew on my shoes
And bumble bees already in stride to a full day's work
One flutters and floats
Then latches onto a dry wilted white clover
And bends the remaining life and limbs out of it
Then goes onto the next
Repeating a secret ritual communicated by its ancestors
For this day's honey
The bus arrives
I climb the steps
For this day's honey

There's a pharmacy on my bus route I take to work every morning
A Korean pharmacy
With a big red Korean letter on the store front
Which translates to medicine
I am unsure if I have passed by it
But I have seen this store before
In movies as a child
Where the hero arrives after he has been shot
In my dreams
When my conscience pulls at the deep recesses of my childhood brain
Where my past footsteps and images are recorded
And in my gut
Where my sense of home resides
Along with the chemical inscription of my identity
I have seen this store before
And I will come here again
As this storefront
Always closed
With parking in the back
Will make a home in my nostalgic mind
So that I will see this pharmacy again

On the bus exists 54 separate universes orbiting one another. In each universe, there is a chaotic dance playing out - the ringing of violent chords and soothing melodies, the contemplation of thoughtful prose, elegant and obscure poetry, the ravenous intake of contrived dramas and the news of the world. There is the lighting of sparks surfacing from deep buried dreams, and the enduring of heartache and laughter. These productions, each in their own cryptic languages, all play out in such close proximity that it is shocking that they do not collide with one another. And when one finds the courage to look outside of his own universe, he will hear absolutely nothing, which for many will be the closest thing to experiencing the vast emptiness of space - for it is deathly silent on the bus. And when one looks outside of his own bus, there one will see hundreds and hundreds more, all with the same lonely destination, each playing its own ridiculous part to the awkward jamming and braking dance. And on each and every bus, one will discover the same removal and isolation between universes and the same deathly silence.

When I run for the bus
I run against time
Which for me is a scary thought
The uncertainty thumps my heart faster than the cardio itself
I run in pure unfiltered concentration
I see three steps ahead
I weave and I duck
And even have the courtesy to say
Excuse me
And Thank you
I glide as if with feathers
I push my legs as if my life depended on it
This is the closest I’ll get to hearing the crowd roar
And when I stop
My body chides me
Of my banging heart and the pounding of my head
My weak legs
The nausea
And my thoughts remind me
Of going to the gym tomorrow
And my conscience sneaks away to the minds of others
To the sight of a guy running
Not really that fast
But clearly not jogging casually
Rather running a weak run
For the bus obviously
And I imagine they conjure sympathy or pity
Or self-gratefulness
Mostly a condescending sneer or even a chuckle
But out of the mass of humanity I pass
Only a few
Maybe just one person
Sees me fly by
Feels the brush of my shoulder
Consumes the wind chasing after me
Smells the scent of my being
And moments later
Wonders if I ever made that bus I was so frantically sprinting after
To my warriors on the bus!
Commuters from New Jersey
Slaves of Manhattan -
My night shift nurses
My unpaid interns
My corporate captives
My artists and musicians
My 6:55am risers
I rise and I join you
My 10:30pm dozers
I rise and I salute you!

To everyone -
When your day is over
And you head home
And you pine for the safety of bedsheets
Or whenever the daily aches of the world just hurt too much
Or dull too much
Just look up towards the night sky
There you will find all the satisfaction you crave in your life
There you will find all your hopes and fantasies
In every speck and glitter of light
In every massive immeasurable star
There you will fill your soul with meaning
Whenever you are empty
There you will find all your prayers and all your answers
Whenever you are starving
In the galaxies so expansive and elusive
You will run out of wishes and dreams to place into each one of them
Just look up towards the night sky