They Must Have Been by Alan Catlin

on a local bus tour
of public parks they
slept in after a night
of shared jugs and bonhomie.
Along for the ride are
two new converts to their way
clutching brown sacks of
no label wine for the trip.
Theirs is a riotous, back
of the bus, commando
raid, punctuated by ribald
jokes, and obscene laughter
from the toothless woman of
indeterminate age.  A few miles
of stop and go gets to be
a real drag without the niceties
of wine, song, and smoke
so they light up in pairs, only two
a match and sing hail and
farewell as they drink from
their respective beverages.
A warning about the No Smoking
signs from up front brings a
reply, “I just can’t wait, honey,
it’s been a long time” and more
laughter.  And it may be a longer
time before the next one as the bus
pulls over to a waiting party
of squad cars, officers who can’t
take a joke no matter how funny
a reading of the riot act and
public container law violations seem
to an uncomprehending audience.
It all seemed so much funnier
when they still had the jugs and
the smokes and Albany was just a short
bus ride away.

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine


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