Skip to main content

What do you get when you put Woody Guthrie, carbon monoxide, frozen custard, and Cheez Doodles in a big metal box and shake it for two hours?

photo by Joe Brusky

There are buses more famous than Iris (also known as the Forward Bus), but none more magical. And there are bus rides more significant than the one I joined on Friday, November 15th, 2013, but never a ride filled with more joy. And there are bus riders more famous, who sacrificed more than I ever will for the causes of freedom and economic fairness, but nobody who ever had more fun.

In a wonderful convergence of anniversaries, Madison participants of the Solidarity Sing Along joined the Overpass Light Brigade and some of the world’s finest poets for a public reading of “TURN UP THE VOLUME: POEMS ABOUT THE STATES OF WISCONSIN”, a beautiful hand-bound limited edition chapbook. The reading was held at the Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. All proceeds went to the First Amendment Protection Fund to help pay court costs for the more than 300 people arrested for singing in the Wisconsin Capitol.

Hippie Rick delivers his poetry; photo by Joe Brusky

It happened to be the two year anniversary of the founding of the Overpass Light Brigade. The Sing Along, just the day before, marked its 700th consecutive weekday, noon-hour singing protest at the Wisconsin Capitol.

It was also the eve of the anniversary of the birth of Father James Groppi, a civil rights icon and perhaps the most famous bus driver in Wisconsin history. That birthday fact was noted at the poetry reading by the widow of Father Groppi and organizer of the event, Margaret Rozga.

The singers, many of whom had been arrested and were the subjects of some of the poems, arrived in style and maybe a bit light-headed from the gas fumes. The singers led the crowd in song between readings.

It was a healing night – joy and outrage expressed in a safe space where artists and activists embraced, switched roles, then embraced again.

We laughed and sang on the way home, but on the way we stopped for frozen custard and burgers at a landmark custard stand just a few blocks from the home of Governor Walker. The teenagers hanging around outside were fascinated by the bus. They took photos of themselves standing next to it and were eager to learn about the Solidarity Sing Along.

As a token of my appreciation to Margaret Rozga and the other poets, I offer perhaps the world's worst poem about a bus ride. It is titled "The Doodles Abide" and it begins just past that little Cheez Doodle below.

Load up the doodles at Lady Forward. Save seats for the goslings and hit the gas. Shriek and ye shall be fined.

Paint your emergency with flowers and bluebirds while you stop and go, stop and go. Red light green light child’s play. Who let Rover on this bus?

Pick up some firestones on Penney Lane. Everyone out for a quick sunset snap. Have you sung happy birthday to chaos? Maybe you should before it’s too late. Doodly-do, happy birthday to you!

“No more tickets!” shout the conductors. “Talismans only, or maybe a tune. Br’m, br’m, br’m, br’oooom!”

Save the water! Save the Earth! It's time for dessert, so save your forks!

The wheels on the bus go see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh, see-oh.

Please pass the doodles. Are we there yet?

DSC09238 photo by Joe Brusky, Overpass Light Brigade

We’re here! We’re here! Shuffle off the bus and head toward the wavy lights. DON’T WALK , DON’T WALK , DON’T WALK , DON’T WALK …SING! If this is P O E T I C  J U S T I C E, then we’re here to be booked.

photo by Joe Brusky, Overpass Light Brigade

Peggy Sue, how my heart yearns for you, but we must lean on the art.

The flavor of the day in heaven is always fill in the blank, but the closer you are to hell, the better the ice cream tastes.

Br’m, br’m, br’m, br’ooooooom! See-oh, see-oh, see-oh.

Iris, my eyes are smiling, so why are you so cold?
Don’t you know we’re getting old?
It’s after midnight now, I’m told.
What can you do to warm my soul?
Hugs for the squirrels! Candy-coated quotes! Bells and weenie-whistles! That’ll do!

Chaous it was who delivered us here,
but poets were there putting bugs in our ears.
Their prayers of justice echoed us home.

The doodles abide.

photos by Jonathan Rosenblum

Originally posted to Giles Goat Boy on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 10:06 AM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Rebel Songwriters.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site