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CLOSE / Parnassiad

Peace and Other Stories

Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life

The Schoolbus Graveyard
by Marc Sobel  /  poetry  /  3 Oct 2007

It wasn’t always like this


The green vinyl seats, slashed and torn

Wads of stale gum pressed against exposed metal bars

“Fuck Tony P” caked in dried lipstick under the seat

And the damp scent of mildew and raw sewage

Seeping in from the rotting swamp

Just beyond the mangled, barbed-wire fence


The windows are all shattered,

And the narrow rubber aisles, once majestic runways

(Though a few still retain traces of their glorious tread)

Have been stripped of their grandeur,

The vestibules are buried under garbage drifts

And underneath the warped hoods,

Now little more than rusty collages of spray-painted vulgarities,

The once powerful iron lungs and steel hearts

Are choked and desolate,

Neglected gravestones overgrown in weeds and nettles


Around dusk, four teenagers,

Insolent whelps of privilege and indulgence,

Stumbled into my sanctuary,

My necropolis of abandoned chariots,

Sporting expensive haircuts

And overly white teeth

Each dangling designer cigarettes

From their smooth, smirking faces


For about an hour they wandered

Like modern day Cabots, laughing at the decay,

Groping each other like stray dogs,

Climbing in and out of each burnt-out husk

Eagerly smashing what little shards remain

Of the portals and looking glasses


Fate is a cruel bastard

A fickle and unforgiving monster

Once these were machines of awe

Vehicles of raw power and fear,

Insatiable beasts, scarlet and crimson and fire

Roaming the neighborhoods

Devouring hapless children like these!


But now…


For years I thought I could resurrect

One of these sleeping giants,

But, as I curl up on the only bench

With its upholstery still intact,

I dream, a great, coiled, serpent of a dream:

I could recapture my old life,

But why?


To exhume the great failed promise of education?

To play courier once again to the spoilt youth,

Shepherding the ignorant flock of ten-year-olds,

Like Moses through the desert

Blindly pretending to believe in their hopeless redemption?

What role is left for these tired vessels of knowledge

In a society that devours itself like cannibals?

Why should it fall to me to revivify the past

As if it had been some goddamn golden age?


It’s nearly dawn now, another frigid twilight

And my lighter’s glow flickers along the metal fuselage

Flashing tiny patches of dull orange light

Across the ceiling, spotted with bullet holes,

And riddled with nameless initials


Soon the morning will wrestle the shadows

Scattering the lingering ghosts,

And the rush hour express trains

Will paint the horizon with

A blur of tired, curious eyes, gaping stupidly

At the death of their childhoods

And the passing horns,

Fading like smoketrails from a jet,

Will slash through the broken windows

In a great, rushing sigh. 

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