Night Bus, NYC
Pummeled by brutal fluorescent light
of the crosstown night bus
All sections crammed, and damn, that
fella giving her the FishEye
won’t give her his seat instead
She leans on a rail, awaiting her stop
on the West Side, where Cuban Chinese is
on the menu – her roomie sets a nice
take-out table with chilled Dos Equis
“Broadway at 86,” robots the loudspeaker
As she bunches her keys blade-out
(you never know on a sweatsullen
Manhattan evening), she feels a grasp
The hand of FishEye Guy clasping her ass
She steps back, grinds the tip of a 5” heel
into his sandal-clad foot ‘til it bleeds
“Oh!” she chirps, “I’m so clumsy”
Time wounds all heels, but
hot-rod pumps do the job in a pinch
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
First, Three Word Wednesday posted a call for these words: Brutal, Grope, and Transfer. Then (much to my delight), Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Isadora put this challenge up… “Create a list of three words or phrases specific to the worst job you ever had and craft a poem having nothing to do with work. List the words, write the poem, and take back the power! Make sure to include your list of words or phrases in your post…”
My words were from my hellacious years of waitressing at a Greek restaurant that was actually Greek, run by a guy named Dino who was a sweetie (he called me “Amy the Sing-ger,” with a hard “g”), and all the folks were wonderful, and this was back in my hometown of Binghamton, NY. But waitressing was not my calling. This was before my PTSD diagnosis, so every rush hour I’d break into a sweat, forget orders, and neglect to write down prices, resulting in my being docked. (Yeah, like the Hudsucker Proxy… “Ya forget a price, they DOCK YA!”) I was THE worst waitress in the world… and I really didn’t care!
My waitressing words: Take-out, sections, and bus (as in clear tables). Actually, there was a fourth restaurant reference in there – did anyone catch it? Izy, thanks a bunch. You were right about “taking back the power.” Simply transporting myself to The City, when I was actively singing as well as working at a very cool marketing research place (where I met folks who are still friends today), was the start of heaven.
And yes, this is a true story. I had a bad temper in those days… Peace – and Cuban Chinese on your menu soon, Amy
March 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm
March 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm
Gosh, lots of colorful episodes and trying times! It all makes for a wonderful experience, Amy! An education comes our way which makes one better prepared in adversities for the future. Very well crafted verse and a clever presentation to match a true journey in life. Great write!
March 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm
ooopsie! “Accidents” will happen! You are a good storyteller. (I think I caught the other restaurant image, but I’m not sure.) Fun read Amy!
Sharp Little Pencil
March 8, 2013 at 3:02 am
It was Broadway at 86. “86” is slang for “we just ran out of it, don’t let people order that dish!:
March 6, 2013 at 6:04 pm
LOL good one
March 6, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Great story. This had a noir feel, and you know I love that. Those first three lines captured ALL of my attention.
March 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm
Yep, that’s NYC.
And go you for standing up (on?) to FishEye!
March 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm
Time DOES wound all heels!
March 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm
ouch! love that your character thought of her response IN the moment, rather than well after, too late, as often happens. i woulda, shoulda!
March 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm
🙂 Great poem and hilarious story, Amy! Yes, Cuban and Chinese go together. We had a substantial Chinese population. Nothing like diversity!
March 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm
Amy, first of all, you did a fantastic job with this prompt. I love how you turned the word bus, a verb, into a setting! This absolutely transcends! I get a nice feel for your narrator, and strangely, I feel my lower ache and feet ache just a bit from reading your comments afterward. As a former waitress myself, I can attest that there is nothing worse than having to endure a long shift and end up with docked wages for the spilled cocktail or the meal that had to be comped due to some whinging buffoon who did not like his meal. Viva la, sharp little pencil!
March 7, 2013 at 1:07 am
There is something about earthy city literature…captivating. Having worked in a city for a transit system there is still so much to read and write and laugh about.
March 7, 2013 at 6:58 am
Very clever and liberating! I know those shoes have their uses and this is about the best!
March 7, 2013 at 7:10 am
Ha! You told you tale so well, never losing the poetry for the story. I love the word ‘sweatsullen’ – such an apt description and the ending is so clever: this is a story with a moral.
Josie Two Shoes
March 7, 2013 at 8:39 am
Love the poem and love the story it tells even better… wonderful ending, score one for Amy! 🙂 Waitressing was definitely not my shining moment either, and it didn’t last long as a second job.
March 7, 2013 at 9:45 am
Great story. Very creative.
Kay, Alberta, Canada
March 7, 2013 at 11:37 am
I always carry my keys that way if I’m out alone at night. A handy weapon, so far unused.
Great poem, and excellent use of the words. If I’d ever had to be a waitress, I’d have lasted about 10 minutes, I’m so clumsy, so I’m always impressed by people who have done it.
You just reminded me that I didn’t include my list of words with my submission.
Thanks for the reminder, and for a super poem.
March 7, 2013 at 11:48 am
Amy, you write such tight, emotional poetry and then make me laugh! What I would have given to be a fly on the wall and see you “take back the power” Never had the guts to do that back then (now I take Kung Fu, so it would be a reflex to smack someone…) Your tales definitely pump me up 😉 Thank you and Love-Sara v
March 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm
Carrying a concealed weapon …
Very handy, and bloodred at that.
Funny but so possibly true which makes it sad.
March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Love this poem!! Time wounds all heels – such a great line! So glad I don’t have to wear heels any more, although now I would know how to use them if needed!
March 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm
This is such a fun piece, Amy.
When I waited tables we called them “sections” (and they were usually crammed). Don’t know if that was your other restaurant reference or not, but it made me think of my server days. 😉
March 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm
Oh, duh. I see that was one of your original 3. Too busy savoring your poem to carefully read the explanation. 😉
March 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm
I love that this is a true story! Oh how clumsy–ha ha. You showed old Fish Eye!
March 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm
A sharp and vivid scene served up on this menu–and I spent a few years being a rather scatterbrained waitress myself–it’s a very hard job, and people don’t appreciate how much skill it takes–love the ending here, too, Amy.
March 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm
I work in NYC and often post about the city on my blog. It’s a magical, energetic city, and your poem is a wonderful vignette. I’ve had the same type of experience on subways, crammed like sardines, minus the hot red high heels. 🙂 I may not condone violence, but this guy had it coming. 🙂 Love the play on words in the last stanza. Is menu the fourth restaurant word? Thanks, I enjoyed this 🙂
Susie Clevenger (@wingsobutterfly)
March 8, 2013 at 1:48 am
Time wounds all heels….I love that! I would never make a good waitress. My mouth would get me in trouble..lol
March 8, 2013 at 8:15 am
Cheeky little word play..i like 😉 whether in pumps or heels..a woman can always take back the power..
March 8, 2013 at 9:06 am
Those 5 inch heels can be lethal! I really enjoyed reading this and it left a big smile on my face!
March 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Wonderful verbal snapshot of a scene. So much more vivid than any photograph. Honestly, the title hooked me. Always something alluring to me about the night and the city.
March 10, 2013 at 8:40 am
Well done, SLP…
March 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Think I’ve had this very experience in this very place!
March 22, 2013 at 3:44 am
I could actually feel the pain in my foot from the last stanza. Yes, time does wound all heels. Another great narrative, my friend.