Richard Downes – 1 of Us

2 minute read

1 of us. 1 wheelchair user on the bus. 1 not of them. 1 not traveling with a similarly mobile friend. Many raising this as an issue. Travel remains a tale of segregation. 1 Rosa Parks. 1 Doug Palley. Many still not let on the bus. Hear all those voices on the back seat having fun, hear the politeness of passengers engaging whilst walking past each other. Human contact missing in segregation. Many have come far. I am 1 who travels. Many are still not let on the bus. Some are not let out of homes. Some cannot get to the bus stop. Many were engaged in the struggle. Many saw the inequity of inaccessible transport. Some thought it had been sorted. But being only 1 shows the complexity of the issue that remains for many.

Signs: Numbers

90 people on the bus
And only one of us

Seems fair to me
Lets take them on

One by one
by one by one

85 and counting

This old lady
Next to me
She’ll limp
She’s lame
She’s 93

84 and counting

Aye young fellah
give up your seat
you don’t need it
to get up this street

83 and counting

Hear young mother
Fold up your chair
That’s Doug Pauley
Do take care
And take your three kids with ya

78 and counting

10 schoolies on the back seat
All of them are shouting

68 and counting

This is rediculous
27 people standing
Black and white
And so much understanding

41 and counting

The bus driver
does he count
No he don’t

So that’s still 41 and counting

There’s loads upstairs
All unawares
Of all these sums amounting
I can’t see em all I do confess
So this is at best a guess

Only 5 left
Only 5 i’m counting

To my left a friend
Who does protest
She’d prefer to have a window seat
She’ll raise her voice
Its like a bleat

So that’s 4
And one’s a sheep
So that’s only 3 i’m counting

There’s the two ahead
Sat together
With no word said

So that’s only 1 I’m counting

1? where is this 1?
He’s that daft bloke
Doing all the counting

I am an emerging socially engaged activist poet, an Associate Artist with Disability Arts Online and Poet in Residence with Hornsey Town Hall Facebook Page, and facilitator of Poetry Meetings at the Highgate Society. 

Find Richard here: