In the Next Galaxy

Ruth Stone

Albany Bus Station
The same fat man with the fluorescent vest
is playing cards for cash
at the same table by the window;
the same easy jean-jacketed girl
slaps the back of the same red-faced man
whose shirt hangs out below his sweater.
And the same dusky man joines the game,
angry as before — ready to shout and throw
his deal down. It’s the every day crowd
that comes in when the mesh gates
are pulled back and the lunch line
offers chicken wings and gravy.
I’m here, too, in my moon boots from Ames,
my pink quilted coat, holding this brocaded
handbag lumpy with face cream, toothpaste,
bottles of vitamins, carbon receipts,
a plastic bag of quarters, and my dim-store
glasses. My poems and books
are in the borrowed suitcase under the table.
I’m sitting here with the small
cup of decaf, watching them play cards.
I am homeless. I forget who I am
or where I was before I got here.
For two hours I am in their avant-garde
drama by Beckett. I am nowhere.
Until outside the window, the big ultra-real
green and white Vermont Transit Bus
pulls in to take me home to Brandon.

Parts of this book I loved, but mostly it seemed that the sequence wasn’t right — more chronology might have helped provide some kind of general narrative. But then many poems covering the same topics might have read completely repetitious if right next to each other. I found myself liking the more banally personal poems and curious to read more Ruth Stone.