Man on the bus

Back when I worked at Charlie’s

on Broadway,

in Seattle not in New York,

I got it for once from both sides –

the dreamy looks and jokes,

the ever-in-my-section, thumb-rubbing-

fingers like the promise of money –

and the thing itself – big tips and a

206- just for being me.

The money part’s the part that made me not

mind it overly much – though I’d hustle in and out

when it was a group of guys,

with their hush-before-arrival and


They could hope for their

“maybe later at the–”

where I’d never ever be. And so

it was nothing, nothing at all

until one day on the bus I

looked at a girl and she looked at me

till she looked away uncomfortably

and got off the bus.

Only then did I recall

the man who’d scared me off

with that same hunger on that same bus,

and thus became clear

what was ever clear to a girl:

Men will ever be menacing,

and I will ever be of them.

The century I once read about

We have come to need

ever-littler men

with ever-littler hammers

to fix things –

to climb through the keyhole

when your car won’t start

and shine a flashlight

on the computer inside.

Sometimes a bolt is loose

or a screw,

and he has a mini-

tool for that.

I’ve met these men.

One used to work for

Lucky Charms, a

cush job, but

as luck would have it,

he got downsized.