Plain China

No Children (An Ode to Public Transportation)

by Corwynn Madrone · Humboldt State University
"Interlocked", Roma Parikh · University of Georgia

There’s a prince of these streets

who knows where he is

and it isn’t here

His blue Mohawk crown

and pale, skinny chest

—bare beneath leather—

draw the attention

of a little old woman

who teaches him how to sow up

the holes in his jeans.

Behind me,

someone else is not here,

but she doesn’t know it

—perhaps she can’t see it

through the thick glasses

that magnify her eyes

like dirty golden planets—

and sings, louder than she realizes

hoarsely and out of tune

the greatest hits

of Tupac Shakur.

The cracked stone angels

sit at the front

and talk to the driver and each other

about their days

before their arms decayed

and were lost with time

—breathing Venus de Milo’s,

with breasts as bare—

—barely breathing—

when they still had wings.

But they’ve always had cracks,

they laugh, and laughing together

and coughing together

they escape to their world of bronze.

The aforementioned seamstress

has found her daughter in the prince

and is with her now;

the daughter she remembers

when her memory serves her,

not the daughter she remembers

when it betrays

the dirty truth.

The master and commander

steers us with sluggish slight

through destiny,

hearing the angels’ words

without reflection.

He is closer than the rest,

waiting at his next stop

for his own arrival,

but still he isn’t here

because he’s there,

always at the end of the block

where he needs to be.

The wheels on the bus

go round and round,

but there are no children here.

There is no gum within the cracks

of the window frame

where I rest my head

and for that, I am grateful.

The eternal vibrations

of our lady of solace

—our murmuring giant

and our tour to rapture—

calm my scalp,

and the cradle rocks me to sleep

Brenda’s Got a Baby*

is my lullaby—

and like the rest

I am gone to a world

far away.

A bus full of people

and not a single person

on this bus,

for every soul here

is really

somewhere else.



* A single released by Tupac in 1991.

About the Author

Corwynn Madrone · Humboldt State University

Corwynn Wolf Madrone was born into samsara on October 31st, 1992. He lived like he loved: fiercely, and in between the cracks. He spent hours waiting for moments, which he traded for universes. He never looked back. "No Children (An Ode to Public Transportation)" first appeared in Toyon

About the Artist

Roma Parikh · University of Georgia

"Interlocked" first appeared in Stillpoint.