THE OVERNIGHT BUS THROUGH JAVA
The road was maybe fifteen or sixteen feet across,
Through winding jungley potholed terrain.
We were in one of the big, fancy touring buses,
Tearing along at fifty or sixty miles per,
Sharing the road with lesser buses,
Cattle trucks, fuel trucks, minibuses,
Trucks, cars, motorbikes laden with massive loads,
Pedal bikes and finally the odd pedestrian
Who suddenly popped up in the dark
And then disappeared again, into woods,
Or the road behind us, or under the wheels,
For all I knew.
I’d seen some wild driving in my days,
Between drunk fits of rage by myself and my friends,
And in Mexico, Central America and the rest of SE Asia,
But none compared to this.
This was fucking outstanding.
Somehow I’d lucked into a front seat,
So the windshield was one big movie screen,
Which we were constantly bursting through.
Maybe they put me up front so that I’d be the sucker
Who’d fly through the windshield,
In what must have been the not so odd event
Of a head-on collision.
And the short, chubby, laughing Indonesian girl
Beside me, she was a baby angel,
But probably about my age.
She was constantly munching on food or candy,
When she was awake,
And thrusting around in her sleep,
Kicking at me, then leaning on my shoulder,
Only waking now and then to go, “shahhh.”
The older Indonesian couple across the aisle,
It was maybe their first bus ride,
Because they were stiff as boards,
Eyes wide and scared to death,
Murmuring about each suicidal pass
That the chain-smoking, smirking driver
Made as casually as passing the rice over the table.
He overtook long lines of busses and trucks,
Cutting along and around midnight traffic,
Slamming through the occasional pothole and shouting,
“oh, boy,” I whispered to myself, “this is driving. Oh,
This is some fuckin’ drivin’! maybe the best I’ve seen!”