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Bus Home from Campbell High 1958

On an early summer afternoon

as if propelled by screams of teens inside

the school bus bolts down Bascom Avenue

pouring our raucous kids at several stops

on two lane orchard roads:

Williams, Moorpark, Freestone and Fruitdale.

Kids squirm, baking in the heat of summer sun.

They look out of the windows and see ripened fruit,

smell its sweet scent and scream: “Cherries are ripe!”

At the next stop they flutter out–

ravenous birds of prey descend on unsuspecting trees.

They attack– climbing, grabbing, picking, gorging, stuffing

cherry after cherry into mouths that cannot get enough.

Sometimes clutching three and four at a time

they yank, they stuff, lips red, tongues cherry black,

stopping only to spit out pits,

and then resuming their feeding frenzy.

Suddenly, sprinklers attack.

Someone shouts “Go.”

Kids drop from trees to grab mud-spattered books

from the soft soil where they were abandoned.

It’s a long walk home, but no one notices

as they laugh and jab, scrambling down the dusty roads–

dreaming of summer afternoons

of no more school.

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