Week 50 – entries and results


Week 50 – photograph by Susan Jane Sims

Week 50 - Susan Jane Sims


Some very diverse poems this week inspired by the yellow buses photograph, some nostalgic, others dark. Thank you all so much. The readers have chosen Lizzie Ballagher’s poem, It all began, as the winner. Congratulations!

Poem 1

Free school


There have been approximately 150 shooting incidents in US schools since 2000


Ready for another day

In the land of the free

Yellow buses wait in line


While in homes not far away

Free children eat eggs, grits.


Putting in back-packs their bits


And pieces for another day,

The children of the free

Board the buses, line by line.


Ready for another day

They wait in line  –

Sandy Hook, Connecticut,

La Follette, Tennessee;

Nickel Mines; Columbine.


Michael Docker


Poem 2


Beetroot Boy


I was never strong enough for the back seat.

Dirty words, explicit texts, things older girls do

to older boys.

The back seat conferred power,

a vantage point to chew paper and

twang the sodden mass toward the innocent.


My cello and I sat by the luggage rack

the butt of jokes, projectiles, words.

A smaller boy bullied by larger.

So it went on, each yellow bus

a greater hell.

I once walked  four miles, dragging my cello

Through the rain. That day

I realised it takes two:

the  giver and receiver.


I placed a coin on the floor

before my chief tormentor passed me by.

He bent, I keeled him over.

He stood to nervous laughter

Face contorted red,  laughter grew.

Beetroot boy, raspberry Ryan.

The redder he went his power faded.


Clint Wastling


Poem 3

Yellow buses
one after another.
after I have
waited so long.
It makes me see red!

Derek Freeman


Poem 4

Whatever Happened To Innocence?


What could be more cheerful

than a bright yellow bus?

Its freshly painted welcome

like a burst of summer sun,

or is it gold or ochre, what’s the colour

that I’m after? Is it mustard

perhaps, like lethal gas that blisters,

swirling clouds of death and pain?


What could be more useful

than a neat row of buses

lined up one behind another

behind, just out of shot, another –

cold machines that stand there waiting

like serried ranks of robots

to attention, like a squad

of marshalled killers, mindless, inhumane?


What could be more simple

than these cheerful, useful buses

that pick the kids up every day

and whisk them off to magic places

full of learning, sport, fun, friendship

and what’s the word? Safety?

Taking kids to schools

like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Dunblane …


Shirley Wright


Poem 5

Just be

We wait at the gate
in a straight line,
one behind the other;
Always you in front,
never I,
We look the same,
do the same,
driven by a name;
No soul-we never had one.
But the children-
they come with jostling
arms and feet,
Curious minds ,a world
to greet;
To know, to think,be free,
a brighter world to see.
We bring them from far and wide,
to this side;
We watch them grow,
their smiles and tears,
Hear their tales
of joy and fears;
Will they be taught to learn
and discern ?
Or will they like you and me
just be?

Leela Gautam


Poem 6

It All Began


For Nicholas


The busted, rusty mailbox at the end of our crazy-paving garden path

Was where the kids all waited the year that you first went to kindergarten.

Beside the box, Gary the Mailman (who doubled as the township mechanic

And Snowplow Supremo) and other big guys from town

Had dug a ditch to stop the winter run-off on the hill from rolling down

To flood our basement, wash away our patch of cosmos: the starry beds

Where flowers grew so tall that sparrows even nested in them.


Bravely, you stood on the ditch’s edge clutching your lunch-pail

And the straps of your school back-pack: excited and scared

And thinking September’s yellow schoolbus would look just like

Gary’s yellow JCB come to dig another fascinating ditch to a galaxy

far away—

Maybe to the dusty planet Tatooine—with the roar and stink of diesel

And metal jaws more terrible and wonderful than anything

Your heroes Han Solo and Princess Leia ever faced.


But it wasn’t Gary the Mailman (or Han, or Leia) who sputtered

Up the gravelly track that Tuesday after Labor Day in the fall of ’82.

Instead it was the chugging yellow schoolbus scooping up

That jabbering knot of kids—with you among them.


And, suddenly, for you, it all began.


Lizzie Ballagher


Poem 7

A League of Power


The school bus, the ancient mystery, the Trojan horse with windows;

the lack of surprise with its timely arrival each day irrelevant.


Living so close,

I never needed to jump on it and join the foreign hordes

from villages a’far.


Sometimes I would leave home early

so I could watch them exit, skirmish, line-up and march

to wherever their timetable told them to go;

a league of power each in their own right.


I was not the height I am today so didn’t understand

their hierarchies according to year and position in the bus:

firstly, the Rola-Cola fodder,

then then pencil-case peltasts and snowball slingers,

soon after the First Sport phalanx of fourth year,

lastly, the hard-man heroes;

held back by the academic gods.


I felt like a mercenary obliged to align

myself to whatever legion seemed strongest

at that time in order to survive;

we all did I think.


Perhaps if I had lived farther away, I’d now know my place in life,

instead of having forever moved from group to group

seeking a camaraderie the school bus seemed to instill.


Tomas Bird


Poem 8

Days of Warmth

Frolicking through the house gate,

Waiting to be picked up,

Old uncle arrived with morning smile,

Driving his ‘coach’, as he loved to call.

Riding in his optimistic school bus

Making memories every new day,

Tiffin’s of delightful food, ribbons loosely tied to the tresses,

Uniforms stained with playful dust, all traverses together.

Fight over the window seat, sulking to be pampered back home,

Today is reminiscence, a pensive mood of bygone days,

Sojourn stay in that lovely school bus bids us goodbye,

Yet those roads and tress calls us again.


Denim Deka