Tuesday Poem-Man With Blue Jug on City Bus


When bussing in the city there are certain obligations.

Be sure you’ve cleaned behind your ears

and shaved your neck e.g.

a courtesy to those who sit behind you.


But otherwise you’re free to indulge.

Talofa Lava Talofa Lava

calls the woman in the back

and the young guy up front

waves and smiles, waves and smiles.


while he with the MP3 sings

electrical banana.

But do not poke your knees

into the seat in front

or grump because the bottom next to yours

is larger.


Falofa lava loafa lava

fell off a loaf

nods the one who waves and smiles

while he with plugged up ears

is just mad about saffron.


Discuss if you wish the muster of the minotaurs

black spot on tomatoes

or Aunty Jean’s appendix.

Talofa Lava Talofa Lava

while MP3 is swaying

to his mellow yellow beat

and Waver waves and smiles

waves and smiles.

Stare if you want as others stare at you

already they have seen

the single hair which sprouts

from your chin.

Wow you really got me now sings he with the MP3

as Smiler waves and smiles

waves and smiles.


And until he yanks the cord                                                                                                                                                                 

no one sees

the man with the jug of cerulean blue

in which he keeps his other ear

chopped off in a fit

of van Goghery.


Falo falofa lava wave smile

Waver smiles.

And the mellow red bus driver halts

pulls out a paperback novel.

Just a short time stop he yodels                                                   

Talofa Lava Talofa Lava time stop.

(c) Helen McKinlay

This poem was first published in the 2009 NZ Poetry Society Anthology, ‘Moments in the Whirlwind’. It was inspired by the wonderful mix of people of all personalities and cultures, to be found on Christchurch buses.   Some of it is true 🙂

I dedicate it to Christchurch and the red buses.  Please click on this link to return to the Tuesday Poetry Blog and be dazzled by the great variety of  poetry in the side bar and, by the Hub Poem which this week is edited by Helen Lowe.


14 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem-Man With Blue Jug on City Bus”

  1. Oh, I used to catch the bus to work every day for years and this really strikes a chord – it is such a fascinating mix of voices that you hear and things that you see (and that often surprise you!). I loved the snippet of etiquette at the beginning, given the vitality and openness of the rest of the poem 🙂

    1. Thanks Jen and Elizabeth. Buses yes,they are full of wonderful surprises!
      So is blogger …it does things with my lines. Puts spaces where they shouldn’t be. Hmm

    1. Yes. But it would be interesting to discover the character of Canberra’s bus culture Penelope. I would imagine it to be quite different…full of politicians letting off steam perhaps?

      1. The only pollis on the bus would be local, ACT Assembly ones, showing their Green credentials. Federal ones swoop in and out in a flotilla of cars, from airport to Parliament with a few stops at watering holes in Kingston and Manuka around sitting times.

        The buses remain unpolluted.

      2. Yes Penelope and Tim but how do you know…they might all be disguised as mp3 playing
        groovers dressed as pink elephants…just a thought:-) I dare you to tell me pink elephants don’t catch buses.

      3. Firstly, can I correct pollis to pollies? That was my iPad, which does not approve of Australian slang, the nasty little septic.

        And, while I like the idea of groovy politicians (being into fantasy) I have yet to hear of one who wouldn’t drag the press around with him or her to show off their bus-catching ways. Modesty and politicians do not go hand in trunk…

    1. Oh I see now this IS a performance piece. Well, of course. It’s just so rhythmic and melodic and all those consonants mashing up against each other. And van Goghery. So great!

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