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Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian
Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Friday, March 19, 2010

GHOST TOWN, USA/ The People on the Bus January/February 2010

The People on the Bus

# 4 Eastbound
January 6, 2010

“strands of hair
a long collar in there
it’s like
I can’t do it anymore”


driving into the pink

as the schoolgirls board
the sky comes up pink
as the vinyl Hello Kitty jacket
on a Japanese teen

look, look away

as the horizon combusts
into the fiery brilliance
of a new morning

look, look away

turn a corner
watch it burn
feel it rise

purple-tinged canopy
of untapped potential


January 7, 2010
Clark College
AA-5 Common Area

“Girls are crazy, man. And it’s not their fault.
It’s the hundreds and thousands of hormones they got.”

Walking East on Mill Plain
toward Harney elementary
I shake hands with a guy
in a black baseball cap
with an enormous Yankees insignia:

“Sup New Yawk.”

“Hey, brotha. Keep up the attitude.”

The People on the Bus

January 8, 2010
# 4 Eastbound

Chat with a guy in a Killers tee and Trooper cap
about our mutual interest in Iron Maiden:

“Yeah. I got my sister into it. She’s 19. I had everything, but then I went to prison, and I lost it all. I’m slowly getting it back. . . . I got an Irish nap last night. I guess it’s pretty bad when you show up for a drug and alcohol assessment hung over.”

“Are they gonna test you?”

“Probably not. If they do, I’ll just tell ‘em I’ll have to come back next week. I don’t reek of alcohol or nothin’ do I? I know Tequila has a certain smell.”

I lean forward, feign sniffing:

“I’m not sure. I guess you’ll know in a few minutes.”


Clark College
Foster Hall

“Genocide. Not at all.”


unemployed vet
former Vancouver cabbie
who spent 25 years
as an Alaskan fisherman
eagerly awaits hip replacement
after which he’ll

                             “get my life back”

has lived with radiation sickness
the government refuses to be held accountable for
anticipates that it will become necessary
to appeal to the Supreme Court

O’Connell Fitness Center
Clark College

I watch the faces of the ladies
on the recumbent bicycles light up
each morning when a dozen members of
Vancouver Fire and Rescue jog into the gym to work out

“Have you heard back on the MRI?”

“I find out tomorrow. When I know, you’ll know.”

“I wanna know, man.”

“I thought of you the other day.
The 82nd Airborne is going to Haiti
to help with security relief.”

“That sounds like a good—“

“When I took my family to Nicaragua,
I found out that Nicaragua
is the 2nd-poorest country
in the Western hemisphere.
The first: Haiti.”

“It’s devastating.”

“It’s a mess. They lost their bishop.”

Cannell Library
Instruction Lab
Clark College

“you wanna be armed
a little bit
in your war on research”

The People on the Bus

# 4 Eastbound

without the slightest trace of self-consciousness
the crosseyed homeschooled Christian girl
in the black leather jacket
puts on her headphones
and commences with
her morning ritual

won’t sit with her brother

“You’re very broad-shouldered, which is,
as I’ve said, very irritating.”

when her brother objects to
her frantic head nodding, she retorts

“I’m insane, get over it.”

random assortment of items
representing various uniforms:
                                                 peace sign bedecked Chuck Taylors
                                                                  goth makeup
                                                                  bondage belt

a few weeks later, she switches
trying on hippie for size:

                                                 tie dyed bandanna
                                                 peace sign pendant
                                                 suede boots, jeans,
                                                 purple cotton pouch,
                                                 green sunglasses


Paper Tiger Coffee

Joseph like the sound of
“the Northwest is all one spot”

Sole Provider
spittin’ “coffee shop rhymes”

“for me, right now I have no money . . .
I had security, but I wasn’t happy . . .”

Julio Appling
Photograph by Anni Becker

For Julio Appling

blue sweat
drips unacknowledged
like a pearl

down the dark brown wood
to hit the floor
with a beautiful splash

this is some
deep pocket

                       right here

not possible to be obliterated
by the squawking ignorance
of caffeinated youngsters
hopped up on self-importance
unable to hear
a thing that does not
travel into their consciousness
via earbuds

The People on the Bus

# 4 Eastbound

“James’s got court this morning,
so pray for ‘im. He finds out
if he gets to go home.
He wants to.
I want him to.”


Angst Gallery


                 “I know no boundaries
                   I have no self control
                   and I’m fun as hell.”

11th & Main

there is an underground
network of smokers
who hide cigarettes and lighters
under Columbian newspaper boxes around town
‘cause smokin’ ain’t allowed
on work release

Outside Harney Elementary

“Guy drove up in a Ford Mustang painted black and said, ‘What are you doing, Mrs. White?’ and he’d shaved his head, too. He’s an odd motherfucker. Not good at all.”

# 32 Eastbound

“Did you see what he just did? That was a Crip sign. I’m Blood, and you don’t do that shit to me. . . . That’s pretty funny—Kayla’s getting’ cheated on. That’s gonna be funny. She’s gonna call Miles, and he ain’t gonna be there.”

“Yo, where you at? Yo, where you at?
Yo, where you at? Why you over there?”


I see a skinhead
on the 37 Mill Plain
in a black hoodie
with a strange symbol
resembling a freemason’s compass


# 30 Westbound

“Retire in two years. I was in the pipefitter’s union for 25 years. I go in for surgery on February 11. I fractured my spine. Where I live. I fractured my spine.”

# 32 Eastbound

“We were sat down, and we were told the dos and don’ts of livin’ in a foreign country. My Dad being in military intelligence, if they can’t get to you, they’ll get to your sons and daughters.”

Parent to child:

“Don’t lose your house key. ‘Cause if someone
gets your house key he’ll break into the house
and steal all your toys and play with them.”

“No! No!”

“No, stay out of my bag. None of this stuff is yours.”

The People on the Bus

February 3, 2010
# 32 Eastbound

“You guys know a little Mexican named Brad? I’m allergic to bees. I am too, though. So you like my Dad? He’s a fuckin’ pervert. My teacher’s like, ‘Have a good weekend, don’t get pregnant.’”

“I hope I get a check today. It’s today. Wednesday.
My ears are cold. They process my check.
I call it into the state.”

“Nosy little thing, isn’t ‘e?
Wants to know whatchadoin

Clark College

Foster Hall graffiti:

The only difference between
me and a homeless man
is this school

Students discuss their hometowns

Washougal: It’s a hick town.

Longview: Smells like cabbage.

“If you see a tweaker on a bicycle,
you’re probably in Longview.”

The People on the Bus

#32 Eastbound

one of the guys on work release
tells me he’ll be visiting NY soon
staying in the penthouse
of a friend who was a fashion consultant
on The West Wing and Sex and the City
and once gave him a $2,500 pair of Prada shoes

but what my new pal
is really looking forward to
is seeing the Bronx
‘cause it’s so “gangster”

# 32 Westbound

“I don’t wanna start drinkin’ again.
I’ll really kill myself then.
I’m arguin’ with myself right now.
I’m not sure what I wanna do.”


Clark College

“I don’t want to go out drinking anymore.
No offense. It’s gross.”

The People on the Bus

# 4 Eastbound

Cell phone:

“I know that’s how I was.
She’s stupid.
She thinks she’s smart,
but she’s not. I know.
I know.”

Leah Jackson informs me
that C-Tran is talking about
installing safety boxes at bus stops
so that passengers can pay $3
to lock themselves in a cage
away from the riff raff
or into which a criminal can enter
and murder you for three bucks



Christine’s lunchtime symphony:

“Constant problems. Constant trouble. They didn’t wanna hear about it. Gas station runnin’ outta gas. Gas fireplace. Smell o’ money. For somebody. Vagrancy. Determination. It was pretty much cease and desist. You can’t practice anymore.”


Drunk outside Burgerville
waiting on the cheeseburger
I had agreed to buy for him:

“Gettin’ too old for this Northwest stuff.
This old man’s gotta go home where
his bones can get warm and dry.
It’s not like I don’t love my grandchildren.
I gotta house on Glen Oaks Boulevard.
You kids can handle it. Come over
anytime and I’ll cook you some pasta.”


just this afternoon
a wise woman reminded me
that there are two secrets
to a lasting relationship:

                                     1. You don’t have to spend every minute together.
                                     2. Choose your battles.

Just ask Jack and Lori Loranger
if you don’t believe me.

Harney Elementary

“She can’t eat, she can’t sleep, her eyes are swelling up. The good thing, Cody, is it’s gonna save people’s lives. Snowboarding was his life. She’s 20. She goes, ‘I’ve never lost anybody.’ Her best friend’s boyfriend.”

The People on the Bus

# 32 Westbound

Paul takes the 105 Express
into Portland every day
to scan accounts payable documents
for PGE
informs me that some of the documents
are illegible
or come in stapled—creating extra work
for the scanners

# 4 Eastbound

“she’s too rigid”

# 4 Eastbound

“What’s wrong with imagination?”



K. asks me to escort her through
the wooded area behind the T-Building
she’s new to town and visibly shaken
happy to help
though curious what it is about me
that signals Not-A-Rapist

two days later
she is waiting in the same spot
smoking a cigarette
so I offer to walk her again

I ask her to explain
the pendant around her neck
she informs me that it symbolizes
girl juggaloes

K. is married to a juggalo
despite the fact that Insane Clown Posse
ain’t particularly girl-friendly
like most, this stereotype shatters
upon contact with an actual person

so I shouldn’t be surprised to learn
that K. works with
at-risk populations

strikes me as being
as far away as one can get
from a hardened criminal


most of the work release crew
got big smiles and shifty eyes
the eyes of a guy
done some lyin’
run a few games
seen some shit

bad news
yet cute enough
that the girls from Bay
offer them candy


Work Release complains about one of his supervisors:

“She fucks with everybody, man.
Sometimes I take a two-hour lunch
and she says, ‘Hey, wait.
I don’t understand.’
She pisses me off.
What the fuck is
your problem?”

The People on the Bus
# 32 Eastbound

“Somethin’ to keep me fuckin’ sane. I ain’t trippin’ about it.
Nothin’s ever gonna get better. Nothin’s
ever gonna change. It’s hard to keep your mind free.”

“You got the same problems as everybody, man.”



Angelo: “A dog needs food, and a boy needs cheats.”

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