(Listen to the poem here)

tope.gifThe sticker on the window tells us YAUTEPEC

although the rope-haired lad

who is jutting from

the bus’s door into the foaming crowd,

much like a figurehead in stormy seas,

is shouting, “Yaute, Yaute,

Yaute, Yaute.”

Perhaps it’s lexically Mexican

to chop the end of place names

when you’re touting rides. In that case,

my next trip must be Chihuahua because

I want to join in too, lean out and cry

Chihuà, Chihuà, Chihuà.

Our bus has many pieces but they

don’t seem to want to live together

any more. They’re all complaining,

shrieking, groaning, whining.

And if you close your eyes there’s

such a racket you might just believe

we’re really going fast and trying

to set a record for buses

in the dilapidated class

along the run

to Yautepec from Cuernavaca.

And then

we brake all of a sudden. There

is a tope lurking in the road, one

of those speed-bumps which

are Mexicanly everywhere.

I think that sneakily they move around, for

every now and then the driver

fails to spot one and we go charging

at it with our gargling engine

much too fast and on the


our walls and windows

wave good-bye and then

decide reluctantly to stay. I count

my bones, somehow the number

is still the same.

But now at least

I know how Yaute lost its Pec.


(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

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