He came over in steerage

during the Depression

from a farm in Kilkenny,

with dead potato beetles

encrusted under his fingernails.

He could drive a tractor,

and was soon trained,

as he called it, to “push” a bus

around the streets of Manhattan.

He had a snarky attitude

toward people of color

and those who arrived

from strange countries

and didn’t speak English.

With arthritic hands on the wheel,

he grimly forged ahead

as if he was still ploughing

acres of potato fields.

His temper flared when passengers

couldn’t understand his Irish brogue,

and he was shocked at their ignorance

of north, south, east and west.

He ignored the chaos of city streets,

the cacophony of sirens and horns,

and cabs charging in front of his bus

like runaway bulls.

He never failed to genuflect, every time

he passed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

With Archie-Bunker like prejudices,

he bragged to his booze-soaked cronies

about being so much smarter

than his motely crew of passengers.

He never knew the bus company

rejected above average applicants,

assuming they would get bored

with the monotony of the routine.