To tell the truth I don't really remember what was on the original LIGHT RAIL READS shelf, but the idea of it was something that struck me as a good one. I spend a lot of time on BART, MUNI, that stupid way too expensive ferry that takes me to Vallejo when I want to go visit my mom, etc, and I've long since discovered the hard way that getting lost in some Leo Tolstoy flim-flam is a bad idea. I've missed a lot of stops and seated myself next to a lot of googly eyed, cussing at something not real type psychos just because I didn't want to lose my place. Ugh.
Maybe not as rewarding as a dense read but certainly more practical, let's take a minute to give it up for those pick up/put down/girl on the go books that keep us entertained on the bus, reel in craigslist missed connections, and make us glad we left Blindness at home. I suggest:
Not just any poetry though. So many poems are needy for interpretation, require too much idyllic pondering and wouldn't suit the occasion of commuting. Things along the lines of Joe Brainard's I Remember, or James Tate's Memoir of the Hawk are perfect. They're both very straightforward, often waxing humorous with a bit of nostalgia. I feel Charles Simic's The Monster Loves His Labyrinth falls in to this category as well.
Robert Crumb's Your Vigour for Life Appalls Me got me through a long Seattle winter a couple of years back, taking the 11 bus downtown to work every day. Something about a candid look in to the life of someone you admire seems very appropriate to me as a vehicle, fully out of your control, is moving you forward to somewhere.
A good comic (narroglyphic-picto-assemblage) is something that makes sense to read just about any time if you ask me, but it almost goes without saying that by nature of their layout a stopping point is never further away than a panel or two. I revisited Dan Clowes' Ice Haven on my most recent trip to the East Bay and, because it is a series of short vignettes that pull together a larger story, it drive homes my point perfectly. Page 10:
Hmm... maybe I'll lobby to get this shelf reinstated.