“Thinking of New Ways to Move You” is the motto at the bottom of the invitation to the First Street Transit Gallery celebration. Thinking of new ways to move you is precisely what the poet does every time he or she picks up a pen. The transit authority would like to move your physical body from one location to another, while the poet would like to move your spirit by illuminating an aspect of the human condition in a fresh and powerful way.
These two motivations have merged in a public art project at the First Street Transit Mall between Pine Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard, where eight poems are on semi-permanent display on kiosks lining the street. The poets represented all have strong ties with literary Long Beach.
I offer you a poem by John Brantingham from his fine new book East of Los Angeles. After reading “A Less Than Sentimental Poem About Los Angeles,” I hope that you will be moved to give public transportation a try.
A man changing his tire
on the side of the freeway lurches
forward as he strips the lug nut.
He knows that he’s not going
to get the tire off by himself,
knows he’s going
to miss his meeting,
knows he’s going to be fired,
knows his cell phone’s not charged,
and he knows for certain that he’ll
try to wave people over,
but no one’s going to stop.