poetry on the bus

small town bus station, Spain

The village bus station looks quiet in the photo. Not so the journey into Madrid this morning.

En el autobús,
las viejas cotillean;
sólo los hombres casados
pueden dormir.

Roughly translated:

On the bus
old biddies gossip;
only married men
can sleep.

I swear you could tell which guys were used to nagging wives: they simply closed their eyes and nodded off as if the screeching voices were a lullaby.

Mind you, much as I complain about the cackle and gabble, I have to admit that it has a certain charm, particularly for a writer. One day I will sort out all the fragments I have jotted down while travelling and write a poema costumbrista. What is the English word for that? A sort of comedy-of-manners style? (The RAE define costumbrismo as: 1. m. En las obras literarias y pictóricas, atención que se presta al retrato de las costumbres típicas de un país o región.)

As an example, here’s a typical exchange overheard soon after we started today’s journey. Two elderly and garrulous females in the front seats were telling the driver their lives:

Conductor (consolingly): Que liga mucho la viuda ahora.
Vieja 1: Pues yo no he ligado todavía.
Vieja 2: Yo no quiero nada fijo…

Referring again to the RAE, we have the definition of this colloquial usage of ligar:

16. intr. coloq. Entablar relaciones amorosas o sexuales pasajeras.

So, something along the lines of:

Driver: Widows have plenty of casual sex these days.
Biddy 1: Well I haven’t managed to pull yet.
Biddy 2: I’m not looking for anything long-term…

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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