It wasn’t much of a bus stand
but then it wasn’t much of anything,
several hours into the owl’s first cry,
its metal jaws shuddering, the last bus
disgorged its groaning load of human effluent,
bags tightly clasped to their bony, wheezing chests,
disappearing into the black-toothed yawn
of another unwashed night.
From a solitary food cart
rose the familiar smell of charred kababs
and the bitter breath of tea that had
simmered too long, on chairs and benches,
in filthy doorways, strangers slept with sleepless eyes,
a grotesque calm blanketed the waiting,
the betel stained lips of the insomniacs
singing wordlessly with a broken radio.
Lost along a superfluous dust-way
where journeys ended even as they began,
this was a transit house for threadbare dreams,
a pause to trade wretchedness
with beady-eyed stragglers;
even the sky seemed dilapidated,
the wind blowing the last stars away,
this wasn’t a place for the bright and shiny.
The next bus is an unnerving apparition,
going ahead no different from going back,
they queued up below a flapping billboard,
a beaming tomorrow at eighteen percent flat,
an old man picked the promises crusted
under his yellowing nails,
the next destination wouldn’t make much of a difference,
but then it wouldn’t make much of anything.