The root of the ancient, persistent, and pervasive issues we’re all grappling with so fitfully in the wake of Trump’s election is tribalism. The inherited compulsion to associate only with “your tribe,” which is so powerfully nested in our genes because once it was what kept humans alive, is now what threatens to keep the country and the world divided by difference (whether it’s race, ethnicity, religion, nation, politics, or any of the host of defining characteristics people tend to cling to). If humanity doesn’t evolve beyond those instincts, and outgrow their exclusive tribe, we’ll destroy any hope of harmonious human coexistence and unity. Just sayin’…

Midnight on MUNI

If you ride long enough,
You’ll see it all—
A host of Apostles,
Come Peter
Come Paul
Come grifters and drifters,
Gangsters and geeks,
Globetrotters, drag-queens,
Colorful Sikhs,
Graduates, dropouts,
Goatees galore,
Drug addicts, groupies
And $10 whores,
Libertine ex-marines
Out on a mission,
And cagey old skinflints
Starved for attention,
Runaways, Romeos,
Hustlers and hacks
And gigolos
Making the bucks
On their backs,
Hoodlums and hippies,
Harpies and hags,
Rasta men hoping
To score their next bag,
Business men, prostitutes
Pickpockets, pimps,
Beer-bellies, barflies,
Winos and wimps,
Musclemen, misfits,
Mumbling nuts,
And hotties with hip huggers
Tight on their butts.

You’ll see housewives
and hookers,
Felons and flakes
Arrive with a hiss
And a squeak of the breaks,
Menaced by cultural fate,
And immigrants
Doing their best to relate
To rabbis and rebels,
Rummies and rats,
Criminals, crackpots,
Cold-blooded cats,
Freeloaders, floozies,
Cops on the beat—
You never know who
You might find in a seat.

There’s Tom O’Bedlam,
And Jack-on-the-dole,
Delirium tremens
Shaking his soul,
A gin-sucking savior
Heralding doom,
His harrowing features
Speckled in spume.
There’s palm readers,
Poets and pigs,
And frustrated actors
After a gig.
So don’t be surprised
When framed in the door,
With pee-stained fatigues
Dragging the floor,
Is an unsettled vet
With a case of the tics,
Who’d do anything
To get his next fix.
Rarely policed
And knowing no sin,
He’s a beast at the feast
Who’s loosing his skin,
Who’s spun like the rest
From one batch of clay,
But retrogressed
Well beyond
codes of the day.
He’s too close for comfort,
Too close to us—
Too close in his kernel,
If not in his husk.
When he suddenly screams,
“We’re all gonna die!”
The passengers squirm
And the driver replies,
“Go on. Get off—
Back in the street!”
Then lets out a scoff
As he leaps from his seat.

And what do you do
While waiting to go,
And wondering who’s
Really running the show?

You sit back, don’t hide,
Try to relax
(As long as the guy
Isn’t wielding an ax)—
Let angry drivers
And dispossessed vets
Work out some balance
Of common regrets.
It’s sure to enrich you.
Just sit and decide
To join the crew
And enjoy the ride.