Gum Ball Machine by Alan Catlin

The bus drunk waves
his walking stick above
his head, then gestures
to all who enter, reciting
the signs of the cross,
speaking in Spanenglish,
shifting from one language
to the other creating an
almost perfect gibberish
mirroring confused thoughts,
white whiskey days warding
off the big chills of winter
even as a man across
the aisle warns,” You’d
better shut up-you’re a whack-
understand-a whack & you
know what happens to
whacks? They pull over
the bus by where all
the gum ball machine
lights are & they take
you away.”-an observation
that hits home like a
temporary tranquilizing
dart ’til the bus hits
a pot hole & he is jolted
awake-revived he begins
classifying the riders as
Ok and not okay-‘I like
you, bueno, bueno, y bueno-
but you muy malo-malo
malo, malo—” Up ahead
we see red spinning lights.
None of us are thinking
of gum ball machines.

Alan Catlin
Alan Catlin is the poetry editor of His latest books of poetry are American Odyssey from Future Cycle and Last Man Standing from Lummox Press

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