Last Sunday Poetry Readings Resume: Preversions (a Lagniappe)

As for concerns, drivers have also noted that the lanes where buses park to pick up and drop off passengers are too narrow for easy access from the street.
And while the traffic signal at Smith Avenue and Walnut Street will turn red when buses exit the center, traffic is still congested from vehicles stopped for the stoplight at Walnut and Third streets.
[One driver’s] concern focuses on the facility’s public restrooms.
“We have a lot of people — who knows what they’ll do in there,” he said. “It’s one of those things we’ll have to wait and see.  Hopefully, they take care of it and don’t abuse it.”

(from “Bus riders impressed with Bloomington Transit’s new center,” by Lauren Slavin, Bloomington Herald-Times, Tuesday August 19 2014)
hybrid-bus-300x225
The building at Third and Walnut streets is much more user friendly to those who use the local bus system than the structure at Fourth and Washington it’s replacing.  It has an air conditioned lobby, public restrooms, WiFi, indoor and outdoor seating, and lockers and racks for bicycles.  It’s modern in every sense of the word.
While that all sounds nice, the friendliness of the place could be a double-edged sword.  It’s a public amenity and city government owes it to the public that it remains clean, safe and well cared for.  All over the country, there are bus stations — transit centers if you will — that are none of the above.

(from Tuesday, August 19, 2014, The Herald-Times, editorial)

Fast forward a month and a half to the present, and time for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic (cf. May 25, et al. — due to Labor Day Weekend’s Spoken Word Stage on August 30-31, there was no Last Sundays reading for August).  Yes, I had written a poem about the newspaper items cited above, spiced by 1970s nostalgia when, hippie-bashing having become passé, a wave of homophobia had swept over the local university community with sometimes hilarious results.  I hadn’t intended to read it though, it being in the class of what I call “The Devil Made Me Do It” writings — and anyway possibly being offensive.  I had prepared instead a suite of four short poems about, among related subjects, the perils of blind dates when vampires are involved.  But at the library earlier that afternoon I had, on impulse, printed out a copy along with the background articles quoted above — well, just in case. . . .

The featured readers were Thomas Tokarski, “a Bloomington poet and environmental/social activist who writes to fend off despair and cynicism,” and Ciara Miller, “a native of Chicago, [who] is a poetry MFA candidate and an African American/African Diaspora Studies MFA candidate at Indiana University.”  Both readings, and especially Ciara’s, oozed power and social discontent, rising at times to the level of anger — but always stopping just short.  Both stimulating and exciting readings!

Sometime during the readings the thought came to me, why not?  Or was the Devil whispering again in my ear?  Anyhow, the poem now seemed relevant to the spirit of the session, and so (and as a lagniappe for you, who read this account — so be warned, be warned!) when my time came I started by quoting some of what I’ve cited above, and then continued “with a tip of the hat to Colonel ‘Bat’ Guano, from the movie DOCTOR STRANGELOVE” with the poem below.

The audience loved it.

PREVERSIONS

“Sure, the new city terminal’s fine,”
the bus driver said,
“but what I don’t like is they got public restrooms.
I mean, like they’re clean enough now,
while they’re new,
but what happens six months, eight months down the road
after the word’s got out?
Drug users shooting up, that kind of stuff too —
everyone knows that —
but what’s worse is when all them sexual preverts
start doing their thing in the public toilets.
You know, their preversions, you know the kind I mean
you can’t get the smell out when they’re finished
either —
you bring in your janitors with mops and buckets,
they do their best, sure, but how can they keep ahead?
Great waves of body fluids gushing beneath the doors,
flooding the waiting room — bring in the cops too,
but what can they do?
They make some arrests, but its preverts I’m saying,
doing their sex preversions wherever they find a spot
for it,
maybe jail cells too — just ain’t no stopping ’em —
you hose down with Lysol but that makes no difference,
’cause what I’m saying is this,
if you’re gonna have public restrooms
it’s just an excuse for ’em, as if they needed one.     
Just ask me, I know,
like back in the old days,
back when there wasn’t even talk about public toilets
I can’t tell you how many of ’em I caught
just doing their preverted things on the bus.”  

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  1. Loved this account, and the poem is perfect (or prefect for preverts) –ha ha! I do hope the city is able to keep up with all those bodily fluids. Also, I wonder what can be done about the narrow lane & the traffic light situation?

  2. Hi Marge! The lane problem may be more a matter of drivers getting used to them — at the previous station they only had to pull up to the curb. As for congestion, it is downtown and I’m not sure it can be avoided during rush hour (perhaps some adjustment to the timing of the lights could be tried, but they’re still pulling out just before the intersection of two major streets).

  3. Buses pulling out –that can make you grind your teeth, if you’re driving just as it pulls out. Okay so plan to leave for where you are going at an earlier time?

  4. Well, buses pulling out of the terminal is equivalent to anyone pulling out of a driveway, though at certain times there could be lots of buses. Fortunately Walnut is multi-lane one way so, if you’re through traffic, you want to avoid the rightmost lane (unless you want to turn right on Third which gives you little time to meld back in — oops. Though a lot of buses, depending on their routes, will be making that right turn too). At rush hour, though, packing more cars into the left lane(s) crowds them up as well. (I don’t know if that right lane is for right turn only though, it might be. And, as for buses going left, they won’t do so for another two blocks, which gives them some time.) In my case, though, that’s an advantage of usually just walking. 🙂

  5. And taking a bus, you have no problems pulling into traffic OR using the restrooms, which have been sanitized and have not a trace of preverts’ bodily fluids. Precious bodily fluids –as mentioned in Dr. Strangelove.




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