Rant: Judged Conversation Overheard on the Bus in August


Judged Conversation Overheard on the Bus in August

by Shannon P. Laws


The sidewalk on Magnolia sticks to my shoes
Maple Tree sap bleeds from the high branches
It’s not enough to stop me
I have a bus to catch

It’s early morning-cold. Crisp air flies in from open slit of bus windows in position for the promised afternoon heat. Wednesday morning in August and downtown is quiet.  Half the town seems closed. Most are somewhere enjoying the last days of summer.  Anywhere else but downtown Bellingham. Only the sounds of a traffic light clicking green and a seagull. The gull stands like a superhero on the top southeast corner of Mount Baker Apartments
barking orders
waking us up
sounding reveille
few listen

Two ladies get on the bus.
They don’t live here.
I know it.

They are the only known tourist on the 3

Oh good, they are sitting behind me
She must be a grandmother
“Are you warm enough?”
The other perhaps a daughter
“Yes, I have my LL Bean on”
They don’t know
what’s coming

Then, it starts—

For 25 years I’ve been getting a mammogram every two years because my mother had breast cancer.

She continues to talk about cancer the way old people talk about cancer
the same way middle-aged people talk about the weather
the same way younger people talk about nothing in particular

The list of what’s wrong with grandma’s body rattles off like the description of a 2001 Dodge Durango I am forced to read:

There’s a new growth of cataract in my left eye, arthritis in the knees effecting my suspension, my liver is having problems, might be backed up.  Recent scans show no blockage in the arteries.  Hips replaced.  Doctor recommends a colon flush.  Hypertension makes me jerk to the left from time to time.  Engine still strong. Overall I’m in good shape

“For sale $500 obo”




Poem: Just Dawn


blinds oad

Just Dawn

My window blinds squint out a slit of light.

No one can tell the view from here but me.


I see the June cherry tree out there, on the other side

holding bouncing chickadees that peck at branch aphids.

I hear the roof-spine morning seagulls barking orders

—when pushed off swiftly by rumble-crows for turf!

The rustle-bush below my pane shelters raccoons shaking soft
clawed hands.

Without a sound, regal-mother deer and spotted twins walk
down the middle of the path towards breakfast.


I walk with them in my mind, think of oatmeal and coffee.

Then, tuck my leg back under the covers a little longer.


~Shannon P. Laws


Deer crossing the street. Photo credit johnhayesphotography.wordpress.com
Deer crossing the street. Photo credit johnhayesphotography.wordpress.com




This morning I woke up angry.  Or perhaps just pissed at everything in general, which, as I write this, realize its pretty much the same as being angry, but feels better to type “pissed”.  It was my second wake up.  I had a wake up at 1 a.m.  I tried to go back to sleep staying under covers for three hours.  Should I get up and write? the productive side of me rationalized.  No, just lay here and wait for sleep to come. the stubborn side argues.

A dark rain cloud hovers over my head.  The rain needs to wash out, empty all my thoughts onto the ground, lighten my spirit.  Around 10 a.m. I admit I am angry. I drive to the gym to work it out in a healthy sweat.

Slowly, I squeak out of the parking lot.  The right back tire joint on my car was damaged by a pot hole last month.  Now a squeak follows me everywhere I drive.  As soon as I get some extra money I’ll have it looked at.  The squeak reminds me I do not have extra money.  It is an annoying squeak, well into it’s second month of complaint.

At the stop sign a Happy Valley deer walks across the street to my left.  I wait for her to cross.  No other cars in sight, we share this moment alone.  I watch her cross, spying a hiccup in her walk. Her back right hip is noticeably irritated. Slowly she makes her way towards the bush-thick lot.

She limps.

It is a quiet moment.

I hurt for the deer with every step.

…The last hoof leaves the street. She disappears behind a green curtain.


My car continues its path to the gym announcing its presence a block ahead of any that have ears to hear.  Seven Pearl Jam albums shuffle in my ear-buds as I get my heart rate up on the elliptical.

Talk me down Eddie. 

Afterwards, walking out to my car I see a familiar face.  The man who frequents the alley walks up with three large garbage bags of aluminium cans.  He’s very productive. Last Thursday I saw him scoop up old pizza from the restaurant’s garbage bin and feed it to the seagulls.  He has done this before, the birds were following him, waiting for this exact moment.

Armfuls of pizza.

He sings to them.

The birds loudly applaud.

The smile on his face is contagious; I smile with him as I stand near my car.

Coming down off my anger-high the desire to get to a proper keyboard overtakes me.  I sit here, now, sweat dry and sticking to my shirt.

I am a deer laying in the valley surrounded by green, licking my hip, full of grace, asking for mercy.


“Hey, Shannon, relax. Everythings gonna be alright.” -Eddie Vedder



Amazon Kindle: Madrona Grove

Hello readers!

Bongo roll please—

Glad to announce that my first book of poems

Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy

is now available in print or Kindle on Amazon!

Click the title or the photo to get to the page in a snap

Madrona Grove Now Available!


It took a few days to get it properly formatted, but it’s up and ready for purchase.   Excited to be able to offer my first book on Amazon.  Hoping to reach new readers.  

Please consider a copy as a gift for a friend, or as an addition to your poetic library; I fit nicely between Keats and Oliver.  *wink*  -SPL


POETRY: Shannon P. Laws, 2013 Mayor Arts Award winner, takes us on a stroll through the mind, heart and the mystery of dreams in her debut collection. Her poems, like a fine picnic laid out on a blanket in the shade of her beloved Madrona, reveal treasures that hide in everyday living. This majestic tree, native to her home on San Juan Island, has a skin like bark, alive to the touch. They act as a sentry on her journey through ancient emotions and primal urges that stir within.