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Muni Poetry - Surf Boarding (23 Monterey)

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This article is part of a poetry series dedicated to every Muni route in San Francisco. You can find the poet, Mc "Mack" Allen, on twitter at @that_mc.

Surf Boarding (23 Monterey)

There are red letters
held overhead:


We are waiting
at a bus stop
marked only by
fading yellow paint
on this skinny metal signpost,
where concrete lane dividers have been
placed along the edge of the beach,
a listless gesture against
encroaching sand
meaningless as a windbreak,
reinforcement should a bus decide to
make a run at the ocean,
which would require a bus
to show up at all.

We are waiting
for a bus
when we are joined by
a man, dripping wet
flushed with cold
wearing a wetsuit
and carrying a surfboard
a longboard, more properly:
ten feet or longer,
coated in bright yellow lacquer
with a black line down the middle,
taller than the no parking sign.

No longer waiting for the bus exactly
we are now waiting
to see whether
this surfer will be allowed
to bring his longboard onto the bus
whenever it arrives.

It does, eventually.
Above the operators head
the front of the bus is
headlined with bold
yellow dot matrix lettering


but written on his face
as a kind of subtitle
is the same question
we have been worrying over
since this surfer turned up
with his extremely large board.

The doors open and
the surfer is the one to ask it:
“Can I bring my board on the bus?”
The operator has a moment to
reflect on the sheer geometry
of the problem before replying
“Can you?”
Shifting the issue
from permission to execution.

Uncharitably we are hoping to see
something like a penguin awkwardly
trying to throw a strike at the bowling alley
and so we are all in disbelief as
the surfer guides this yellow longboard
with a fluidity and precision beyond
our collective expectations.

The surfer props the board
diagonally on a bench
near the back doors
while the operator,
feeling something between
sarcasm and genuine admiration,
then he puts the bus in gear
turns east, and drives
away from the ocean waves.


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