Leaping Typewriters on Speeding Buses (part I)

I forgot to mention to you that I brought my illustrious typewriter* with me on my recent pilgrimage to the Ananda (my mom’s ashram).  I just figured hey, you never know when you’ll encounter a soul thirsting madly for a poetic blessing… well actually, I think most of us are parched in the way of poetry and intentional blessings.  So I carted the heavy beast along on the greyhound bus, often being mistaken for an anvil saleswoman… just like the one from The Music Man (wasn’t his name “Charlie”?)

*A brief and reverent word on my typewriter:  It belonged to Mykael’s grandmother, who was a minister of the church of religious science!  (Which happens to be my church of choice these days!)  She was head of the ministry of prayer and she used the typewriter mostly to conduct related correspondence, such as replying to letters for prayer requests.  The moral of this ridiculously short tale?  The typewriter was BORN to serve the All Pervading Love Hemorrhage!

As I was boarding the bus in Oakland, the driver noticed the sign on the outside of my typewriter that said “poems for sale”.  He was clearly titillated.  He confessed that HE used to write many poems back in another [prehistoric] incarnation of himself.  His blue eyes twinkled and danced.  Then I boarded the bus and made my way to the only remaining vacant row, toward the back.  As I was trying to clumsily shove the mythological alphabet stamping beast in the overhead rack, the hard-cover case came sprawling open and the heavy machine plummeted down on an innocently by-sitting woman.  I was mortified.  Blank sheets of paper flailed about.  I asked the woman if she was okay and she said she was fine.  That was hard for me to believe, since the thing weighs at least as much as a baby unicorn.  I must have asked her eight times… and apologized twenty one… But alas, there was no blood or broken bones.  And not even any hard feelings, aside from mine.

Amidst the melee, I had a chance to scope out this fellow citizen of the human race.  I was surprised by her youth, her luminosity and her fabulous, decadent tan.  She had icy blue eyes that spoke much in our nativer than thou tongue, the language of light!  She was young and vibrant and struck up an orchestra of curiosity in me.  I offered her a poem for her passive troubles.  She immediately accepted. I asked her what was in her heart… and after digging for a few moments, discovered that she had been traveling in Mexico and Central America for the last five months… and was soon going back to her motherland, England.  She said she was tangled in uncertainty about landing back home again, wondering where she would work and that sort of mentally pestering nut and bolty stuff.  I gathered myself in my sphere of chaos and made my way to my seat behind her, my mind already busy stretching into the heavens in search of images and metaphors and other essential celestial freebies.

I parked the typewriter in my lap and slowly plunked out a poem for her as the bus bounced me like a baby on its soothing, automotive knee.  I wondered if it was okay to produce that kind of erratic, sonic rhythm in a confined public arena.  No one said anything… until I was two lines from the end.  At that point I was approached by a real character.  A middle aged woman with a passively clownish countanence~ thick foundation make-up, eyebrows entirely fashioned from thin brown pencil lines, frizzy, stressed out hair orange as a bleeding sunset sky.  She informed me that my typing was offensive to a flock of people behind me and would I mind stopping.  Fair enough… But I asked her if she’d mind if I finished up the last two lines and she acquiesced, god bless’er!  I read over the poem and was more than satisfied.  But the beautiful English wanderer was sleeping, so I lay the poem to rest, packed up the typewriter (which sorely needs a name, don’t you think?) and got to my previously scheduled business of doing a whole lot of indulgent nothing.

It wasn’t until Sacramento, when the woman, whose name I discovered was Zoe, was about to flee the enchanted bus and remerge into the folds of the mystery that I bestowed the poem upon her.  She turned around and said, “Goodbye.”  Ahhhhh!  Wait… what about your poem???  I read it to her through the crack in the seats and then passed it through the narrow slit into her open hands.  I felt the warmth of her gratitude and she said that she hoped more typewriters fell on her.  I laughed and said “Be careful what you wish for…”  Then she was gone.  I glowed inside, savoring the strange fortune of my typewriter leaping onto her, and the blessing that generated.  Though I wished that I had been able to learn more about this kindred mystery woman.  Shrug.  I guess that’s not what life had in store.

When I got off the bus at my destination in beautiful Colfax, California, I asked the blue eyed, bus driving, closet poet if he fancied a poem.  His energy was all liquid yeses, but his mind had to navigate its own modest obstacle course before he caught up with himself.  I asked him what was in his heart.  Work and family.  A man of few words.  I had to roll up my sleeves and dig to find the plethora of gold nuggets laced in this obviously wakeful though mildly frozen in past pain soul.  But when push came to shove, he was willing.  I learned that he had a twenty four year old son who was tangled in discord with his mother.  Mister bus driver was playing the exhausting roll of mediating peace maker, holding a hundred times his own weight in responsibility within his own overtly tender heart.  He told me it was both comforting and taxing to head out on the open road in his bus… On one hand, he had respite from the familial tension… and on the other hand, his absence put strain on the family unit.  I nodded in recognition.  He WAS the perfect poem.  So wrought with internal struggle, dynamic tension, a divine play of light and shadow.

I only had ten minutes before the bus was to depart, so I got busy.  The poem was born in the nick of time and I ripped it from the auspicious machine and read it to him.  (I was not so enamored with this one… and actually gave myself a hard time for like half an hour… my ego screaming in my ear, WHO did I think I was offering ragged, limping poems to strangers?  I had to be vigilant in releasing that obnoxious voice.  Actually, I ended up giving myself a sober pep-talk-coaching-session out loud.  “Athena, your job is to be courageous and do your best.  To keep releasing yourself into God and saying YES.  That’s it.  Keep going.  Naturally, you will like some poems better than others, but who cares.” Etc.  Sheesh, where did I learn to be so mean???)

I read him the poem.  He lit up.  Then he recited from memory the first poem he had ever written, when he was a teenager, waiting for the greyhound bus(!!!!!).  It was very introspective, melancholy and soulfully universal.  Yup, he’s a seasoned citizen of the universe.  The he turned away, boarded the bus and drove into the sunsetless horizon.


To be continued…