The KingA half - hearted smile as they climb aboard:
“Good afternoon.” One boy mumbles hello,
but others just glide past, heads down, in silence.
The door swings shut, glass rapping on metal.
The bus detaches from the curb, the black
exhaust fanning into the crisp gray skies.
But then, a yell, “Hey wait!” A boy trails after
the yellow box, but this bus waits for no one.
The boy stands lost, alone with the concrete.
The driver stares ahead, his eyes unfocused.
What had gone wrong? He pulled good grades in school,
B’s, for the most part. Still, His mother said
her Donnie would go far. His father would
be proud, she said. To Donnie he was but
a slinking shadow, hidden in the past.
But Donnie and His mother were so close,
They had no need for anybody else.
At night, she held Him tight ‘til eyelids winked,
Whispering, “Donnie is my precious little
Prince, and one day He will become a king.”
The silence bursts; balloons of words billow,
their covering lies shredded on the floor.
Such noise! A thousand angry bees buzzing
a meaningless yet never - ending drone.
One voice starts rising out above the rest:
The Queen bee, edgy, shouts, “We want music!”
A face of stone peers through the gray mirror.
The lines carved in his brow show ancient pain;
His cold, hard eyes are slits behind lenses
of milky glass. His down - turned lips say no.
There had been music playing when it happened.
A muffled tune bound forth from speakers scavenged
from bins, too old to recollect their past.
They swung, they pranced, just Donnie and his mother,
giggling, twirling…but she stumbled, her foot
dangling in mid - air. Lifetimes flashed by
before she fell, a fallen angel. Wailing,
lone sirens echoed long inside His ears.
Hospital doctors mouthing “brain tumor”
swirled spirals in the little prince’s head.
Cloud - enveloped skies bring forth torrential gusts,
splattering the windshield with power - hungry
sheets full of heavy, angry, silvery water.
Wipers swish back and forth, rhythm hypnotic.
A girl in front sits drenched, a sopping mess
from rain that pours through her open window;
the stubborn hinge refuses to be closed.
Hesitant, she begins to ask the driver
for help to shut the panes of glass, but stops,
realizing she does not know his name.
His eyes remained dry through their visits, though
a red complexion smeared with angry blotches
showed His feelings about the sterile white room,
His mother’s brand new home away from home.
Don’t worry about me, she said. But He did.
Class was cut, homework left undone and crumpled
to lie among the trash. Tobacco leeched
the pain away, addictive deadly rolls.
She didn’t know. Her expectations were so
But her little prince was growing up.
Red light. Cars zoom through far - off lanes: a race
for unknown riches. The cars’ shiny coatings,
grime - streaked, like children playing in the mud,
Splash glist’ning muddy water on the windshield.
Green light. A forward jerk, and they are off.
Grey nothingness devours all in sight.
A streaking black shape darts onto murky
asphalt ahead. Its form is cloaked by rain.
The bus swerves, hits the curb. Heads bob, a jolt,
a scream; it bounces down, once more on track.
He stopped attending school to care for her.
Instead, He visited her every day.
He held her wrinkled hands in His. Her crown shone,
but frailty did not steal away her beauty.
The moon revealed His sleeping form beside hers,
slumped low upon a ratty old green chair.
Campuses danced through His royally troubled
mind, college students, rivulets trick’ling
through uneasy sleep. But when He woke,
Then only tears remained; that dream had died.
The bus squeals and skids to a grinding halt,
the brake pedal scraping against the floor.
He pulls the smooth black handle towards his body
with ease. The yellow doors fold open, out
into the air, the fresh scent of the grass,
each blade an individual being.
Once more, they file past, no longer shy;
Exchanging goodbyes in euphoric pitch,
They leave monotonous grey, beige, earth tones
for worlds outside they cannot comprehend.
With’ring away, her frame grew thinner each day,
until one morning, when the sun shone down
through thin curtains, her eyes did not open.
But Don woke up. Don’s eyes opened and gazed
affectionately down upon His mother’s
pale face. The doctors didn’t have to tell Him;
He knew: Alone for the rest of His life.
Donnie had been her darling little prince;
He could have been a king. But He was Don now,
and Don drove school bus number twenty five.
All but a boy have left. He takes his time,
adjusting complicated straps to fit
his back. He shrugs the bag over his arm.
“Thanks.” A grunt in reply from the driver,
yet he does not turn ‘round to acknowledge.
The boy hops down the rubber steps, a dog
loping toward his master, barking with glee.
But he looks back; a single, fleeting glimpse:
The bus’ dirty chrome has lost its gleam.
Yellow paint chips from dents and scrapes and dings,
Black exhaust coughs from pipes. And all alone,
the driver sits: a king upon His throne.
[TABLE OF CONTENTS, LHS CLASS OF 2009 EDITION]
Copyright © 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose ©
2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.