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Public Transportation

By Joan Mazza

I miss those rides to school or to the city,

immersed in a book, or eyes closed,

mind open to fantasies, without a thought

to beasts around me. I knew not to sit

near the man with newspapers on his lap

or the one who tried to catch my eye,

never worried about what I might catch

from benches, straps, or turnstiles, never

thought of pathogens on every surface,

as numerous as the microbiome I carry

concealed on my person. In innocent

places, traces of Anthrax and bubonic

plague, antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

How reassuring to learn that no Tasmanian

devils, Himalayan yaks, or Mediterranean

fruit flies travel the trains in New City. But

most strange of all (Consider what this means!)

forty-eight percent of DNA found there

matches no known organism.


Joan Mazza worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in Potomac Review, The Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes, reads, and cooks, surrounded by oak and beech trees.


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