Accidental Poetry on the Fremont-SFO BART, 5 December 2013

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Good Evening:

During most of my evening BART train ride home from the 12th Street Station in Oakland, I occupied my time by studying the couple across the aisle. She was past 50, long straight blonde hair, mussed up, holding a mostly-empty fancy glass bottle of some kind of brandy or liqueur. He was past 50, perhaps closer to 60, short wiry grey hair, suit, shirt collar open, tie loosened. He had put his arm around her shoulders, and in response she had curled into him using his right shoulder as a pillow and had fallen asleep. That is not how late-middle-aged couples are supposed to ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit light rail system. That is how teenaged-to-sophomore-year-in-college-aged couples are supposed to ride BART.

How dare they.

And yet they dared. I could not help but think that they rode BART in this fashion 30-35 years ago, and 30-35 years from now, they will ride BART in this fashion again.

Think of them not as poetry in motion but as poetry not in motion on a train in motion.

They disembarked at the Embarcadero Station. As they left, an African-American homeless man boarded the train. He was about 60, black hair but a grey fringe for a beard, burnt orange stocking cap, wearing several layers of tee shirts, sweatshirts, a hoodie, sweat pants and soccer shorts, and he pushed a hand truck stacked with all of his worldly belongings stuffed inside four blue milk crates all roped or duct taped together.

And this is what he said to anyone and/or to no one:

Someday you might get like this,

Someday you might get like this,

Someday you might be like me,

But I doubt it,

I doubt it.

Been drinking whiskey all night long,

Let prostitutes pee in my mouth,

Someday you might be like me,

But I doubt it.

Someday you might get like this,

Someday you might get like this,

Someday you might be like me,

But I doubt it,

I doubt it.

Spent eight hundred dollars tonight,

Gonna get eight hundred more and spend that too.

Someday you might be like me,

But I doubt it.

We both got off at the Powell Street Station in San Francisco, but he shut up as he disembarked and said no more.

I can submit what he wrote to various poetry anthologies–and many of them will publish it. I know this.

I know this.

Because someday I might write this good,

But I doubt it,

I doubt it.

Vonn Scott Bair

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