Poetry in Motion

I rode the DART trains years ago when they started operating – in the first few days. It felt like luxury then – so few folks ventured on board, sitting in plenty of space, the cars gently swaying. It was like the opening of a new highway – vast reaches of empty tarmac. It is as if the whole billion dollar enterprise was constructed just for you – a new world of dignity and comfort.

That did not last long. The crowds grew with frightening rapidity until, within weeks, I was relegated to a mere straphanger – standing for the whole commute, grimly gripping a hand hold trying not to fall during a lurching curve, propped up partly by the warm bodies of the other riders – all crammed in like ripe sardines.

The only escape from the uncomfortable situation of mass humanity on the train is to look around for a Poetry in Motion poster. These are posters, with poems printed on them. New York has been doing this for decades. The program is done by DART in association with the Poetry Society of America. They work with transit companies all across the country.

The other night I was crammed in, packed, but could turn my head and read “World Trade” by Jim LaVilla-Havelin.

When I look down the road into the enormity of sky
all I see –          golden arches
a mammoth American Flag
and the big rigs screaming down
the Old Laredo Highway

the blameless sky

and for a second I am transported out of that crowded commuted cattle car into… somewhere else.

After a bit it is all too much for me so I start to crane my neck. There, if I dip my head I can see next to the exit door… that woman thinks I’m staring at her… tough, I can see another poster. It’s

On the Patio, Dallas
by Isabel Nathaniel

The prickly pear and yucca
dug from a roadside
do fine in pots. Sun,
sunflowers. The August heat.
Petunias, pinks, and even the geranium
probably don’t belong. With watering
they hold on. One morning
I fed them organic fertilizer
made entirely of sea-going fish.
I hosed the place till the hanging baskets
dripped and the fence soaked dark.
There rose the brackish smell of bays
and wharves and I turned my head
to the distance as if to hear
the regular slapping of the sea.

And I can hear the slapping of the sea over the rat-tatting of the rails.

On farther, past the kid with the dreads holding a bicycle in the aisle there’s a poem, in Spanish.

En la Sangre
Pat Mora

En la Sangre

La niña con ojos cafés
y el abuelito con pelo blanco
bailan en la tarde silenciosa.
Castañetean los dedos
a un ritmo oido solamente
por los que aman.

In the Blood

The brown-eyed child
and the white-haired grandfather
dance in the silent afternoon
They snap their finger
to a rhythm only those
who love can hear

And here I am, at my stop. That trip didn’t seem to take so long.