Poets pay tribute to the best and worst of the CTA
The Brown Line and and 66 Chicago bus.
Tremble Light Box of Zoom By Robbie Q. Telfer
Like a permanent lasso around the stiff animal neck of downtown the Brown Line helps the North Side rein in our bucking phallic center.
A cowboy named Kimball loops the Loop with elevated steel rope while this eternal taming kicks up people dust — humans made of once still brown earth returning someday
This dog is tweakin’! Still barkin’ a ruckus despite being so cheap and so roomy, her vision so bright so wide relatively un-gloomy. And if we’re the fleas she’s tryin’ to shake herself clean of how come these furry seats all seem so vacuumed? Other more colorful puppies aren’t nearly so spiffy, but Browny is still rattle shakin’ like the rest of ’em like she’s nervous like we’re gonna lay all our flea eggs on her and settle in. Don’t worry, dog, we’re not stayin’! Chill the fuck out — I’m just tryin’ to go to work.
At the end of it all the drumming, bing-bong doors are closing become a mantra — a hum-blanket over worry — the day makes more sense when you let it melt off into the heartbeating hands that forever cradle you home.
Telfer is director of performances for Young Chicago Authors, cofounder of The Encyclopedia Show and author of the poetry book Spiking the Sucker Punch.
Transfer to El By Emily Rose
It’s Chicago cold. My body rocked with shivers, scarf damp and frozen to my face, but I am almost relieved when the first two pass by too packed to take on more bodies. At least I am supposed to be this miserable outside.
Even on a Sunday, the buses look exhausted when they finally arrive in tardy droves and sag to the pavement as I board.
Wading into the smell of aftershave, hangover, coffee and gasoline, I wonder if Hell is as crowded as the #66 bus.
Steering my hips away from stray hands, navigating strollers and shopping carts, angling for some illusion of personal space.
What sin would find me nose-deep in armpits for all eternity when even cattle get their own stalls?
Emily Rose is a regular contributor to The Encyclopedia Show and a Real Talk Live variety show artist.