The Inside Story Only

This poem is the text of an artist book I did in January. I can’t find pictures of all the pages in it, and I don’t know why. And where did the book go, too, I wonder? Things were confusing for me in January! Anyway, I liked what I wrote, so I thought I’d set it out here, and give the text a chance to shine.


In the city. Work. In the office. Your desk. Every weekday. Some Saturdays.
Rain. Sun. Snow. Cars. Buses. Lights. Busy. Hurry.

Going home. The bus. People you know only from riding the bus.
Conversations about work. Weather. Traffic. How the family is doing.
What is in your shopping bag.
What are your weekend plans.
Nice new shoes you are wearing.
Daylight in the summer. Dark in the winter.
The air-conditioning breaks down.
The heater is blowing on your ankles.

The road. Other people in cars. You see them from the bus window.
You imagine them in their own little spaces moving along the road.
What they are thinking.
The radio is playing. Traffic reports. Music. Quiet.
Changing lanes again and again to get just a bit ahead.
Windows open. Windows closed.

Home. Suburbs. Trees. Back yards. Picnic tables.
Get the mail from the mailbox.
Water the plants on the porch in the summer.
Sit on your sofa and read a book in the winter.
Wash the dishes. Take out the trash.
Sleep in your bed. The alarm clock with the lighted dial. Dreams.

Going to work. Watching for the bus from the bus stop.
Passing your neighbors’ houses.
Children on their way to school.
Potholes. Broken water mains slowing up traffic.
An interesting conversation heard from somewhere in front of you.
You listen to every word.
The air-conditioning is broken. The heater blows on your ankles.
Your stop. Your office building. A cup of coffee. Your desk.


8 thoughts on “The Inside Story Only

  1. Thank you. I commuted for many years by train and my husband still does. There is a whole world of relationships bound together only by transportation. Interesting to think about.

  2. Which reminds me–did you ever see the movie,”Falling in Love”, with Robt DeNiro and Meryl Streep? It’s one of those sad, but romantic stories–and it’s not on a bus, but the commuter train.

  3. I used to live in Philly, as you know. I rode the bus for 2 years with a woman named Charlotte. She must be “gone” now. She was 60 when I was in my 20s. But I knew her. And I think about her these days. I remember our conversations. Thanks for the poem and the collages!

  4. I am glad this brought back memories. And that this woman’s words have stayed with you for years. Things have a way of continuing to have importance as time goes on, in ways that didn’t seem obvious at the beginning (or we couldn’t understand them then…)

  5. I think it is the repetition. the daily riding of the bus. Day in, day out. We (Charlotte and I) built on that consistency. And we got closer. You are right, Claudia, it has to do with looking at it backwards. At the time, she was an older woman who might have appeared in my future 20 times. But she didn’t. She was the only one.

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