On the Buses

It’s said buses always come in threes. If you’re stuck waiting for one without anything in sight or are maybe on one and not particularly enjoying the ambience, here’s three poems about them to help pass the time at least.

Bus 1

Get some right arseholes
On buses
Like being on one
Leaves them no choice
But to shine right on through

Brown eye staring at me
An utter affront!
Who’d they think they are?
Wearing white trousers
Dresses and skirts
On public transport

Oh, wait . . . maybe it’s some
Of the black shiny stuff
Found on most seats
Sticking instead

Bus 2

Sunset blood red
A sight to see
Topped grapefruit pink
Could gaze all night
But for nature demanding

Not to mention
Oh, da cologne!
Smell like a tiger
A stinking roar
Grossly overpowering
To all but insecure

Body odour
Still seeps through
Nasal tarnish on the beautiful
Blood red view

Then some young dude
Delves in a backpack
Rummages . . .
Catches a salad
Fine looking at that

But once the lid’s off
Oh sweet Lord
Vinegar blooms
Stabs nose as thorns

Cranberries on a bed
Of sharp lettuce roses
Popping like diamonds
Reflecting pink dusk

Alas, visually only
For nasal senses
Bitter tears
Of Satan flowing

The bus lets
More stinkers on
Its wheels don’t always go
Whereas the smells
Never stop

But, but, but
So many butts on a bus
Big butts at that
Butting for room
As drunk goats
Fighting for groats
And other lesser seeds

Someone asks
Is the seat between salad-man and me


(No, they’ve gone to the lavatory
Or was it the bar?)

Sarcasm, sweet sarcasm
The smell’s an assault

AK-40 Smellin’

Nothing free ’bout getting
Shot by that

As I come to fondly
For the Beelzebub rank
Was the sweetest of posies
When compared
To this new evil bouquet

Onion and garlic
Strongly reeking
Like a manic
Kitchen hand
At some real busy
Garlic and onion land

Or maybe a bus-riding top-chef
Saving the environment and rising soufflé
In one frying pan

But wait!
Like those late night
T.V. ads
There’s more!
Something else still
Oil, grease, water dispenser

Two jobs
Kitchen plus mechanic
One of those tyre changing places
Most like
Always finding worn brakes
Faulty shocks if not

How it didn’t come sooner
A whiff
Of just stubbed cigarette
The obligatory smoker

Flaring bright orange
Sucking away
Dragging hard
While the bus pauses
Brings onboard a last lungful
As a memento
Or some kinda luck

Beautiful grapefruit pink view
Perfect refrain to a day
Hot and clammy
Close and balmy
You might stink
To the highest of Heaven
But if driving the self
Would’ve gone
A different direction

Bus 3

Buses not in service
I wish a pox on you

You’re on the route
Not taking back streets
To keep yourself from view

Are therefore obviously going
At least
Some stops my way

Maybe all
Who can say?

If anything
You should be giving
Rides for free

Stop rushing by
Die horribly


A 68 bus as I remember them; when the newer conductor-less model was introduced (there’s one right behind it) they were late coming to the 68 route, and to me always looked completely out of place when they did. If the image-search results are anything to by, today even the ‘newer model’ is sometime out of date!

Despite the length of time lived in London and various places, I only ever used a couple of bus routes. While a lot of that’s to do with my general dislike of buses, preferring the Underground, it also has to do with only a few being needed for everywhere I ever needed to take one.

In particular the 68 route, which according to its Wikipedia Page has changed a bit since I last used it, being shortened from its once Croydon to Chalk Farm (though apparently still remains one of the longest routes in the Capital)

When living in Holmesdale Road it passed the end of the street. One way was ten minutes to Croydon – my first introduction, being taken shopping there on it by my mum.

The buses home would say Chalk Farm on the front – it sounded magical. As though the omnibus perambulated itself leisurely across London before exiting into picturesque fields and pleasant pasture.

When asking why we never stayed on the bus to go there, I was told it was nothing but a big dirty soot covered garage just for buses to be kept in when not used.

It made North London sound a cold, harsh, loveless place, full on unused busses; one could only wonder what further horrors lay in the wastelands beyond it.

In being right next to Camden, its reality is hip n’ groovy.

The second use came later when starting secondary school; ten minutes the other way for that journey.

When my dad moved to Kennington, the 68 then passed the end of the street he lived on too; though it was a lot longer than ten minutes to get there – far enough to pass the end of the street where an uncle, aunt and cousins lived in Tulse Hill.

When I lived in Kennington, it got me to and from two jobs; not to mention a couple of decent pubs—the Phoenix in particular—in Denmark Hill.

The above linked article made me actually lol when it said the below quoted; I lived bang, smack in the middle of the two places named:

Travelling on this bus route has been suggested as a cure for agoraphobia. Travelling for 2-5 stops during the day was considered a medium level exercise while travelling from Camberwell Green to the Elephant & Castle alone during the rush hour, was considered the most challenging exercise – more terrifying than walking down the high street or shopping in a supermarket.

I once applied for a job and during the interview was invited to undertake a day’s on-job ‘training’; it transpired we were no more than unsolicited door-knockers and felt more like an induction into a weird cult than any respectful profession.

It wasn’t for me. I left the situation by randomly jumping on a bus that was pulling away from a stop as we walked by (something that could only be done on that style of bus – constantly open at the rear as they were, with a handy pole to grab onto too).

It happened to be a 68.

‘But you could be really good at this,’ a desperate voice called after me, like a jilted lover shocked to realise their replacement is big, angry-red and puffing tons of diesel fumes into the atmosphere.

Despite my love/hate relationship with the 68, none of the above poetry was inspired by travelling on one. Instead, all credit as muse must go to the buses and riders of the T.T.C. (Toronto Transit Commission).

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.


Next in vs. Poetry: Vegan Hand Job
Last in vs. Poetry: God Save the Queen

In A Life of Crime vs. The Free Market I write about the areas mentioned above in particular relation to working on London markets.

Motorcycle Despatch Riding Time Machine is a poem about starting work on London bridge everyday.

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