I wrote the following short verse poems and haikus during my shifts as a bus driver in December 2018. In 8 hours, my longest break was nine minutes, but the busy schedule meant I often didn’t even see that. Playing around with words in my head while stopped at red lights or long stops loading seemingly never ending lines of holiday passengers helped keep me sane. When I finished for the day I would try to scribble down what I had composed and then work on them little by little where I could till I was happy with them.
Neoliberalism has taught us that everything we do needs to be exceptional or it is not worth doing. It removes possible non-productive actions as superfluous and encourages us to only think about ways to make every moment productive to increase our value even when/if the job you have provides a decent life. For me writing these poems was a way to resist that inclination. They are not exceptional, they do not increase profit, they do not make me a better worker. They express my feelings and keep me human in spite of my working conditions.
Blake McCall, Hamilton bus driver
My neck aches already
Spine compresses on every bump
Driving a Nova
Packing Sardines in
A tin can until coffee spills.
What can you do on 5 minute break?
Go to Bathroom
3 mins (depending on location and number 1 or 2)
Remember to Chew before swallowing
Additional 2 mins
TIMES UP GO GO GO
Look at phone/ check messages/check facebook etc
Time not available
Take a moment to imagine biting into a brandy wine tomato grown by you and
breath feeling back into your body to feel like a real person not a robot.
Time not available
Fall into a pit of existential despair thinking about the impending doom brought on by extreme global inequality, rising and emboldening fascist movements and near certain apocalyptic devastation being/ and to be wrought by climate change.
Have to think about something while driving
The Fash are rallying
At city hall, growing their hate
Still I came to work
Working mom pays fare
For her child. While a tax free
Tesla cuts in front
If I put my head in the sand
I can think we are all being
Rewarded for a spring like
December day. Because
We’re “going to build the pipeline
To open additional markets for
Carbon increases and
Indigenous people be damned.
The Added benefit of the location of my head in sand
Is that when the wind blows, carrying the cries of
The coral “I’m Dying”
The polar Bears “I’m drowning”
The Forest “I’m burning”
I can’t hear them.