Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Reflections on "Drunk and Digging"

By 2020 Poetry contributor Mickey Mahan 

My poem, “Drunk and Digging,” in Bacopa Literary Review 2020 is one piece in the poetic, literary montage entitled “THE FLYING BUSMAN: an urban poem of dramatic potential,” and, like all entries in the 185-page manuscript, a snapshot of a day-in-the-life of a transit bus driver. 

All the poems are experiential moments on the fly. The manuscript contains poems depicting the slow, picaresque unfolding of a day on the city streets set within the larger context of an individual life story.  So, it’s life on the bus, and off the bus. In the bus garage, on the go; in the home. Concrete. Dreamy. Erotic. Comic. 

“Drunk and Digging” happened exactly as depicted in the poem. It was a funny moment of frustration and surprise, a confirmation of the infinite potential of the unexpected! I had never seen this particular rider before and never saw him again. 
But, somehow, those short, fragmentary interactions leave a deep impression. Remember-ing the incident and rereading the poem now, that brief bus trip assumes a wholeness of vision that gives a nutshell version of a bus driver’s life. A holler becomes a hoot, and the seriousness of proper and improper, right and wrong, find their dissolution in a disheveled drunk.  

Ricky The Flying Squirrel he ain't
staggering across the gas station lot
opposite side of the street
earflaps on his fur hat flapping
in mock take-off
and I'm wondering if he'll make it
to the other side without getting run over
gesticulating for the bus with unhinged arms

I pull the bus to the curb and wait
don't ask me why
"thanks a lot my friend" he slurs
through an unkempt white beard almost bewitching
as it sparkles with snow
that face has chased down more than one bus
in its day
as he steadies himself on the sidewalk
staring up at me through floating eyes
I wonder which step will be his last

. . .

we knock down the city blocks
with him teetering and me tensing
until we reach downtown
last stop
everybody off
and he's elbow deep
digging in his pockets
begging me
"please buddy just another minute
I know it's here somewhere"
and in a couple of tittering tipsy steps
he descends and lands on the sidewalk
feet as firmly planted as a telephone pole
and I think
"I'll be damned he did it"

*    *     *

Mickey "The Flying Busman" Mahan's poems--after three decades behind the wheel of a transit bus, writing on a pocket-size memo pad WHILE he drives, pen-in-teeth (he calls his writing practice "Writing On the Edge Of My Seat")--have raised an itch the driver's seat can't scratch. So, away they go!


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