Bus 67 | Bas 67

By and | 31 October 2020

Eyes thick with dreams. Sweat-slicked seats
wicked by breeze, a cockroach drowses
in the dusty cracks between. Outside,
a fugue of motion: people, cars
criss-cross roads trundling from
Paya Lebar to Kallang, lorongs swell
with stories split from Asia’s belly,
Geylang sighs of sultry nights,
laments its morals loosening.
Coffeeshops thunder with soft-boiled eggs,
roti bakar, hot buns, mushroom mee.
Heavy breathing steams the rubbish heap.
Massage parlours re-open at eleven,
mosques and temples bear sullen witness
as brothels sleep. Migrants flit to hi-card kiosks,
contraband cigs slip from fist to fist. The bus
pulls in shadows huddled in front of shops,
then suddenly whiffs tumble in:
stale Tsingtao, nicotine lacing
unbrushed teeth, prata soaked in dhal,
breakfast kopi. Sweat ripening,
earwax, grime wiped on pants.
Heads forward. Will not move
back. Red eyes patrol the space
from seats, tracing foreign scents.
Too many already, cannot come in.
The cramped journey suspends
in stifled air. The local driver is late.
Dreams stall at the entrance.
Stand up. Rage. Go
to the back! Go back,
go back.

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