Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The poetry of mass transit

A TriMet trend I've noticed has been, intermingled with the ads on the bus, poems praising mass transit written by members of the community. Sometimes, they are haikus. Only not really. Ever since I took a poetry workshop where I learned that haiku actually requires many criteria (most importantly that the poem's topic is something from nature) in addition to 5-7-5 format, I find such collections of syllables kind of irritating. Especially the perky TriMet versions. (No offense, Oregon poets.)

An example that I just made up illustrates what these poems are kind of like:

TriMet, everyone!
Happy community--VROOM!
Goodbye, pollution!

Yesterday, riding the bus to work, I wondered why these poems do not more accurately reflect the Portland Metro Area's bus riding experience, while I was also pondering the question in my own haiku.

Clanking bag of cans
Why bring smelly trash on bus?
Not worth the $2.10!

Seriously, that bag looked like it held less than enough returnables to cover the bus trip to wherever its owner was traveling to cash them in. And when the bus turned a corner, the bag toppled over and nearly landed on the iPad-reading man across the aisle. The can-collector looked across the way expectantly, as if to say, "Ya gonna pick that up for me?" To my shock, the man did! But he was wearing gloves. I don't know what I would have done; probably the same, and then ran for the soap as soon as I got to the office.

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