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On the bus across 72nd Street,
I watched my uncle talk to himself,
ramble and mumble barely
audible monologues
about the depression
and his father’s death in 1939.

A woman sat next to him,
her potato puffed face scrunched up,
beach grass hair blowing out the window
these criminals, these criminals, these criminals
she mouthed over and over again while nobody looked.

I thought how nice it was that my uncle
was so quiet about his madness,
that he knew how to look down
and to wear clean clothes that matched.

When the rocking first started,
some may have thought
it was the movement of the bus,
a raft bobbing in chaos.
But she persevered with her mantra,
these criminals, these criminals, these criminals,

he moved his lips, the depression, so cold, the depression,
harmony and counterpoint, two metronomes ticking
to separate internal clocks, two bodies swaying
in opposite directions, together in their seats.


Stefanie Lipsey is a mom and librarian with a brand new M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens College, C.U.N.Y. Her poems have been published in the Long Island Quarterly, Freshet,, Big City Lit, and other literary magazines. She was a founding editor of  Ozone Park, a board member of the LI Poetry Collective, and invites you to check out her website,, to learn more about her work.

© 2010, Stefanie Lipsey

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