On the Bus
Jeff Hartzer, MEd.

Author's note...
Rarely have I had the opportunity to fully incorporate the parts of me that are WRITER, POET and TEACHER .
I am POET on stage, TEACHER in the classroom, and WRITER in a back closet studio perhaps.

A few years ago however, our high school principal offered the faculty a bus tour through the rich environs
of our high school's diverse community. There are some 2300 students at Rio Grande High School and their
backgrounds are unique to say the least. Pueblo Indians, Hispanics, Anglos, cowboys, farmers...
Join me now for a quick journey through the culture, class, and color of Albuquerque's South Valley, home to the Rio Grande Ravens.


On The Bus

Ken Kesey used to say that you are either on the bus
or else you is
off the bus; but, it ain't the sixties no mo'
and today folks we is on the bus....
Here we go waving goodbye
swinging wide
out onto Tapia
then a turn onto historic Atrisco.

The wheels on the bus go round
and round as we hang out windows
like children set free at day's end
oohing and ahhing all the way
fascinated with this,
this free bus ride field trip
through Albuquerque's South Valley ;
more fun than the Disney Monorail
this journey through Ravenland
where falcons fly phonelines over alfalfa;
where ranchlands, mesas , rivers , farms,
and miles of family traditions go deep
to make this a truly rich land
where we have come to teach and to learn.

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish
and hey, a pit bull used to live in that house;
my grandpa got his first haircut
right there and see that used car lot ?
Well, when I was a kid a family lived there
in a nice old house and one winter
they plumbed in their own furnace
and before that first spring came
the whole damn place blew up !

And that little square house...
it used to be a candy store.
I remember the man who owned it.
He sold candy to all of us kids.
The weird thing was though, he had no fingers !
And look at that old adobe place,
it's over a hundred years old;
used to be a swinging dance hall.
You know, a whole lot of families
got their start there on a
sparkly summer night and they all
reminisced about it the next day
at St.Anne's, St.Edwin's or Holy Family .

And the wheels on the bus go round and round and round
down Central to Bridge out onto Sunset
where good quality students grow up
and the world's oldest Blake's Lotta Burger bakes...
Here , homes stay within families and land is
passed down family lines and all of our relations
live without sidewalks or big city rules
but when it rains out here , watchout for the mud !

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish
through Five Points where the largest stores
used to be and where a bank lost big bucks
one day to a bomber who blew up its wall !
And we all got our first pair
of glasses over there at Lovato's.

The horn on the bus goes toot toot toot
and the horses and cows and rabbits run
where houses still use coal and wood
to heat by in this land of old turfs :
Armijo , Southside , Five Points ,
and chile verde is roasted
where Jesus is Lord and
families hang together
like old socks too comfortable
to toss aside and
did you know old Bob used to flip his own burgers ,
and now, he owns
four burger places
Bob's Burgers no less.

And the bus driver says SIT YOUR BUTTS DOWN
as the Kinney Brick neighborhood flies by
and we come screaming around a turn
and our good Queen, Veronica, almost takes a big spill !
Soon we pass by Joy Junction
and are happy knowing we have our own homes to live in.
And then there's Manny Aragon's castle home ;
what, it's only been twelve years since he started it ?
Still under construction and not a single orange barrel
in this politician's driveway !

Still , the wheels on the bus go round and round
and round again over acecias ,
beside dairies and horse farms
out toward sacred pueblo lands
where the sky widens over ancient hornos baking bread ,
and children so alive
their smiles dance along ahead of them.
Down by the river fisherkings fly
and rivers widen into fields fresh
and ready for harvest time
with thanksgivings and corn
and the many blessings of the seasons
passing on one after the other.

And the wipers on the bus go swishy swishy swishy
through this land of culture clashes
where dropping out seems to be an option
and where trusting the bus
in the morning is hard to do
but all of those extracurricular activities call
and still students come
to Rio Grande High
where the Ravens fly.

And ever so slowly the wheels
on the bus begin to go squeak squeak squeak
as we pull in for a stop
at Jerry's Market in this rich valley land
where no Circle K's stand
amidst the trees of Los Padillas.
So let us sing for the Patriots of Polk Middle School
and shout Hooray for the Harrison Roadrunners ;
March onward we shout for the Ernie Pyle Warriors
and please ,
say a quiet prayer for the children
of all ages in this big house of Angels,Casa Angelica,
this valley so grand.

The wipers on the bus go swishy swishy swish
through Valley Gardens just like a little city
here in the county neatly groomed
yard after yard house after house
at home at work at play
and I gotta go potty...AREN'T WE THERE YET ?

And the driver says sit your butts down
but whereever you go
there you are
and boom bang we bump up
over the curb
as our field trip comes
full circle back to
the Rio Grande home of the Ravens
home to cowboys and Indians,
LA RAZA and anglo-americans,
big kids and little kids ,
teachers and students,
moving on
into one beautifully big Raven family;
culturally and racially rich,
talented strong and proud;
and our bus door
stands wide open.

Jeff Hartzer
copyright 1994-present





Jeff Hartzer was a monthly coumnist for the South Valley Ink for four years...

See all of his columns online at THE CORNER WINDOW.

To visit Jeff Hartzer's weblog, click: FRESHCHAOS.com



Jeff Hartzer, MEd. presents a unique view of poetry as a magical gift waiting to be opened . Jeff is a poet, writer, teacher, and the Executive Director of the AirDance ArtSpace. ( 1-505-842-9418).

Snailmail contact:

Jeff Hartzer

Post Office Box 25892

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87125


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